Many countries bid citizenship or residency programs for foreign nationals in exchange for investment or property purchase. With few other options, Syrians who can afford these citizenship-by-investment programs – most of which have very high price tags ranging from the hundreds of thousands of dollars to millions –are being drawn to them as the instability in their homeland continues.
One Syrian, who recently secured second citizenship, is Yaser Akkad, a 45-year-old Syrian native whose business suffers a lot because he couldn’t travel as much as his business might require. Mr Akkad established an information technology firm in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
A few years ago, Mr Akkad lost his passport when he was on a business trip to England. Knowing that Syria no longer had diplomatic representation in Britain, he panicked, putting advertisements in the local news and contacting the police.
Fronting a long and challenging process of having a new Syrian passport in a country with no Syrian official representation, some friends recommended that he should apply for asylum in England or another European country. As a successful businessman who frequently travelled across the globe, he neither considered himself a refugee nor wanted to put his life on hold for a prolonged asylum process.
To his great relief, Mr Akkad ultimately found his passport among his belongings. Nonetheless, the experience shuddered him: in a world where Syrian passports open few doors and can be viewed with outright suspicion in many western countries, Mr Akkad made his mind he needed second citizenship.
“I realised that this passport that I have is not helping me carry on my business”
He turned to Savory & Partners, one of the largest companies in the Middle East that provides citizenship-by-investment programs. And after a real estate investment, Mr Akkad was a citizen of the Commonwealth of Dominica—a tiny island nation in the Caribbean. Despite the fact that little attention is paid to the country of fewer than 74,000 people, its passport is exceptionally strong, allowing visa-free travel to more than 120 countries, including the EU and the United Kingdom.
“They’re good individuals who are in a situation where they need a second passport to find stability for their family, assets and business,” said Mr Savory of his clients.
The five Caribbean states namely—Antigua and Barbuda, Dominica, Grenada, St. Lucia, St. Kitts and Nevis are a relatively enticing choice for Syrian businessmen like Mr Akkad since they do not necessitate those looking to become citizens living in the country for any set period. In fact, prospective citizens never even have to visit these early-mentioned countries, except for Antigua and Barbuda which requires only a five-day visit within the first five years.
“The new passport has so far helped improved the business a lot, as one can now travel visa-free and visa-on-arrival to most countries around the globe; thus, save time and effort, concluded Mr Akkad.
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