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The Evolution of Residency and Citizenship by Investment in the MENA Region

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Date Published: September 13, 2021 | Date Updated: September 5th, 2021
By September 13, 2021 No Comments
The Evolution of Residency and Citizenship by Investment in the MENA Region

Residency and citizenship by investment (RCBI) is a popular venture among the MENA’s elite, one that has been gaining traction in the past decade, and for good reason; it is affordable, easy, and provides the wealthy with a tool to unlock their ultimate potential.  

RCBI is the perfect fit for the MENA’s elite, as the region hosts some weak passports with limited global mobility, high financial restrictions, and has been plagued with political turmoil for a good part of the past century. All of these factors have created a growing need for a robust Plan B, a problem that RCBI remedies to perfection.

Demand For RCBI Increasing In The Region 

The need for a solid contingency plan is not a regional matter, but something every person in the world must consider. The reasons for setting up a contingency are also quite similar wherever you are; political instability, turbulent tax system, diversification of asset base, and limited global mobility.  

Investing in Residency or Citizenship by Investment resolves all of those by providing investors with enhanced global mobility through a new passport, a new investment destination, a favourable taxation regime, and, most importantly, a second home in case something goes awry in their nation of origin, with the latter being a significant issue in the MENA region the past few decades.

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MENA citizens are a diverse group, it is difficult to aggregate citizens of the GCC with the turbulent Levant or the further east North Africa. The GCC has, on average, a much better economy, slightly better passports, and a more favourable taxation system than its Arab counterparts.

However, challenges in global mobility remain an issue, with visas to the United Kingdom, Schengen Area, and otherwise becoming more of a hassle. A second passport can remedy that issue easily.

As for the Levant and North Africa, the issues stem much deeper than just global mobility. Many nations have been rocked by internal turbulence, which has affected the economy, living standards, and the ease of travel for its citizens. 

Map of the MENA region.

The MENA region accounts for approximately 6% of the world’s population, along with 60% of the world’s oil reserves, and 45% of the world’s natural gas reserves.

Financial blockades on some MENA nations have hindered the ability of investors to transfer money in and out of their home countries, while stringent financial regulations in other nations limit the ability of the successful to amass a fortune befitting their work and talents.

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RCBI acts as a solution to all of this, but until recently it was wrapped in obscurity and little was known about the premise or the ease of getting a second citizenship or foreign residency through investment.  

Awareness in the MENA regarding RCBI has grown recently, especially in major metropolitan cities such as Duba, Cairo, Baghdad, and Amman. This awareness has led to higher demand. One could argue that the demand was always high, but only a few knew about RCBI in the first place.

Cairo - Egypt

Challenges in global mobility remain an issue for MENA citizens, with visas to the United Kingdom, Schengen Area, and North America becoming more of a hassle.

The increase in awareness has been reflected in the number of applicants to the world’s most popular RCBI programs. A whopping 41% of the top 10 nationalities that apply to St. Lucia are from the MENA region. Malta’s (now discontinued) citizenship by investment program saw 26% of its applicants come from the Middle East in 2016, while the second, third, and fourth largest nationalities to apply for the Vanuatu citizenship by investment program are Iraqis, Lebanese, and Lybians respectively.

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Residency by investment programs in the EU saw high MENA applicant numbers as well. Greece’s popular golden visa is a great example here, excluding Chinese applicants (which are the overwhelming majority), MENA applicants make up about 28% of all remaining applications.

The data sets show that MENA high net worth individuals are now actively seeking a Plan B in the form of RCBI, and the good news is that getting investment-based citizenship or residency has never been easier.

Caribbean passports at Savory & Partners office in Dubai

The world’s elite have been using citizenship and residency laws to their advantage, creating portfolios that allow them to benefit from becoming global citizens.

Challenges RCBI Faces In The MENA Region

There remain challenges for RCBI programs in the MENA region the most prominent of which are: 

  • Proving source of funds in war-torn countries. Any country that has faced internal conflict will surely have a weak banking system, and showing that you have the funds needed for RCBI may prove a challenge. 
  • Choosing the right RCBI program. As more countries launch their own version of RCBI programs it can become quite confusing as to what the best option for you and your family actually is, and a venture that requires financial commitment needs to be studied well. 
  • Finding a suitable investment. Many RCBI programs have various investment options and choosing one which can make you a profit while simultaneously getting you a second passport can prove quite complex. Factor in the need of some investors for a Sharia investment, such as no-interest bonds, Sukuk, or income derived from Halal sources (without alcohol, gambling, etc.), and the equation becomes even more convoluted.  

The good news is; a competent and experienced service provider can help you easily overcome these challenges. From proving your source of funds through years of expertise handling RCBI cases, helping you choose the program and investment that suit your needs and budget, and assisting you in obtaining your new citizenship or residency in a timely manner; a good service provider makes it all seem easy.

Savory & Partners Office in Dubai, UAE.

Savory and Partners British management team maintains a strict code of conduct based on professionalism, transparency and efficiency.

MENA Could Become Largest RCBI Investor Source

The current instability in the region coupled with the economic effects of the pandemic will only drive demand for RCBI. China remains the largest RCBI investor source worldwide, but as awareness in the Arabic-speaking region grows, expect the MENA elite to give chase to their Chinese counterparts for that number one spot.

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Savory & Partners have successfully provided over 1200 families with top-tier investment migration services, and boast a 100%  success rate for all of our applications. We have seen it all and done it all, so If you would like to know more about the evolution of RCBI in the region, how it has affected the lives of those who have invested in it, or how you could obtain a second citizenship or residency contact us today for a free, comprehensive consultation.


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Jeremy Savory

About Jeremy Savory

Jeremy Savory, the founder and CEO of Savory and Partners, runs one of the world’s leading HNW citizenship by investment firms. The second passport company has coverage in over 20 jurisdictions including Europe.

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