Why Millionaires Are Buying Second Passport
By Cleofe Maceda
Dubai: As immigration policies around the world get tougher and political instability in some countries persist, a growing number of Arab families and wealthy residents in the Middle East are looking to buy a second passport.
Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest, said that many citizens from Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, Palestine, Egypt, Libya and Sudan, among many others, are willing to spend hundreds of thousands - or even millions of dirhams - just to acquire a new citizenship.
"In light of risky political situations and unstable economies, having a second citizenship becomes as valuable as a life insurance policy," Cotdemiey told Gulf News.
"A second passport is a perfect solution for them, as most fast-track citizenship programs allow visa-free access to major regions and countries in the world, such as Schengen states, United Kingdom, Singapore, Canada and even China."
Cotdemiey's company has set up a stand at the ongoing Dubai International Boat Show, where the region's high rollers flock to, in search of luxurious yachts. Since the event kicked off on Tuesday, the company has been drawing huge footfall numbers of high-net-worth individuals (HNWIs) - not to buy a boat- but a second nationality.
For these wealthy individuals, there's a lot to be gained from investing in an alternative citizenship. A second passport could offer visa-free travel to many destinations as well as better quality of life and family security and safety.
"The [event] is a great platform for us to target investors who recognize the need and benefits of having an alternative citizenship. Considering the trends and developments witnessed by the region over the past years, these individuals are seeking our help to process their citizenship applications," said Cotdemiey.
Many of the interested applicants are high-net-worth individuals with businesses around the Middle East and North Africa. Cotdemiey said they have also noted a growing interest from the Asian community, including Indians and Pakistanis.
Acquiring an alternative passport has been popularized by the multi-billion dollar "citizenship by investment" industry. Depending on where applicants want to live in, a second passport can cost anywhere between Dh367,000 and Dh7.7 million. The invested funds are either used to purchase a property or donate to the local economy in exchange for a passport.
One of the most sought-after among wealthy residents in the region is the investment program offered by Cyprus, which can help applicants obtain citizenship and a passport in six months. The passport grants the holder the right to live and work anywhere in Europe. An added bonus is that Cyprus has the lowest tax rates in Europe and does not collect income tax from non-residents.
From an investor's point of view, Cyprus is also a good choice considering that the property market is growing, with prices increasing by three per cent annually.
The citizenship by investment programs offered in other countries like Dominica, Grenada and St. Lucia are also worth exploring.
"These countries, which are located in the Caribbean, offer effective programs. Investors can obtain a second passport in a matter of three to four months and are able to travel visa-free to over 120 countries, including Schengen area, Singapore, China and the United Kingdom," added Cotdemiey. – Gulf News