Economic citizenship options are most common among citizens from politically instable countries.
A rising number of UAE expats, mainly from politically troubled countries such as Iran, Syria and Egypt, have resorted to ‘buying a passport’ from countries such as Comoros, St. Kitts and Nevis, Antigua and Barbuda and Dominica, to secure better opportunities for their future.
An Iranian national who chose to be identified only by, Raha, had given up on being able to secure proper jobs and travel comfortably with her Iranian passport, she turned to the ‘economic citizenship’ program, to acquire a passport from Comoros, in order to be able to do things that she would normally be restricted from doing with her Iranian passport.
The economic citizenship, also known as second passports and citizenship by investment, is a multibillion-dollar industry, which is rapidly growing among wealthy Middle Easterns nationals.
To acquire a second passport, a hefty cash or property investment of a minimum DH367,000 per person, must be made to the economy of the desired country, in exchange for legal passport with full citizenship benefits. The process to receive the passport can take anywhere between 3-12 months, though some restrictions may apply.
“The demand for second passports in the Middle East is high, due to the political and social instability of many countries in the region, particularly after the Arab Spring” said citizenship consultant, Neda Bahador of Citizenship Services Group. “Many people acquire a second citizenship from Caribbean countries such as St. Kitts & Nevis because it is a commonwealth country, so essentially they can travel almost anywhere, visa free, giving themselves and their children access to more opportunities and a better life. The other reason is for tax purposes, in which case, many clients choose a cheaper passport such as Comoros, which gives visa-free travel to countries in the Arab League, and tax-free banking. This option however, is only applicable to a very small percentage of our clients,” said Bahador.