There is an ever-growing demand for second citizenship among UAE expats and this article delves into the why’s, real life examples of two expats who obtained second citizenship through investment, and why a second passport may be a good choice for you offering security, stability, and freedom.
The UAE has one of the highest percentages of foreign-born residents in the world. In fact, based on data gathered in 2017, 88% of the population were born abroad.
In recent years, a larger percentage of the UAE’s affluent immigrant population have been applying for second passports in other foreign nations, and the use of services such as ‘citizenship by investment’ programs has skyrocketed.
Recent data from Bluemina shows that demand for second citizenship in the UAE expat community has risen by 67%, and the figures continue to climb.
An independent survey from YouGov, conducted in June 2019, revealed that 6 out of 10 UAE residents are likely to relocate to a foreign country other than their homeland.
Why is there an increase in the UAE Region?
So what is driving residents in the UAE to pursue second citizenship, and how do people manage to achieve it?
A recent YouGov survey found that one of the major reasons for families to move abroad was to pursue a better education for their children. Nations such as the United States are known for having an outstanding educational system full of cultural diversity and cutting edge learning practices aimed at helping students thrive in today’s increasingly competitive global market.
Other factors that draw people towards a second citizenship include accessing world-class healthcare systems for themselves and their family members. This is especially important to those people who suffer from certain chronic diseases or life-limiting health problems.
Investments, Finance, and Banking
For some UAE investors, investing in a second passport allows them to benefit from more favourable tax and interest rates than those in the UAE. Also, investors can diversify their existing assets by choosing to obtain a second passport through property investment.
Stability, Safety, and Security
Another driving force for some people seeking a second passport is to escape the region’s political and economic instability. Much of the UAE’s immigrant population comes from politically unstable countries and wish to add a second citizenship as a lifeline to fall back on for themselves and their families.
Freedom and Ease of Travel
Some passports, for example, those in the European Union and Schengen Zone, also offer freedom of movement for their citizens, allowing the possibility of living, working and starting a business in numerous countries across the continent. With so much freedom all from one passport, it’s clear why this is such an attractive proposition for some.
Real-World Experiences of Those Having a Second Passport
Take for example Shawkat, a resident of the UAE from Syria. Just two years ago he acquired a Maltese passport and says that ever since then his life has changed for the better.
Unlike most people from war-torn Syria, Shawkat can travel freely, simply breezing through immigration at airports around the world. He’s free to travel to countries across the European Union without visas or restrictions of any kind, and is even free to permanently move to any EU nation in the future, where he may educate his children, access full healthcare, open bank accounts and start multiple businesses. His Maltese passport also gives him the freedom to visit numerous other countries around the world, including the United States.
Another UAE resident who has pursued a second citizenship is Palestinian born Belal Nasser. Belal is now 51 years of age, and has not returned to his homeland since he was a child. He found his second citizenship opportunity in Antigua and Barbuda, which has offered him and his family ultimate security in a time of extreme conflict in his own nation.
So how are people like Shawkat and Belal achieving these second citizenships?
Both men were granted their new nationalities though ‘Citizenship by Investment’ schemes, which are an increasingly popular way for people to gain freedom through a second passport. In a nutshell, citizenship by investment involves investing in the economy of the host country and thus bypassing the traditional immigration processes such as citizenship through marriage or family ties.
Investments range in their scale and nature, costing anywhere from $100,000 to as much as $2.5 million, sometimes involving cash donations to the host country or investments in property and business ventures.
Shawkat gained his Maltese citizenship through the Malta Individual Investor Program (MIIP), which required him to raise approximately 1 million euros as a contribution to the country’s economy.
Just under three-quarters of this money goes into the Maltese development fund as a donation to the state, and the remaining amount can be used to purchase property for the individual and their family. The applicant can also choose to take a property lease of a minimum of 16,000 euros per year for 5 years.
Belal went through a similar, although less costly process, in order to acquire his second citizenship, investing $100,000 into the state of Antigua. He was thus granted permanent citizenship for himself and his family.
Current figures show that approximately 5,000 people per year are obtaining citizenship via investment, completing the rigorous financial checks and criminal background investigations to meet the requirements of their host countries.
Each country varies in its requirements, and some are more accessible than others. For example, obtaining citizenship through investment in St Lucia and Dominica requires as little as a $100,000 contribution with no physical residency or language requirements. The process takes only a few months to complete.
Many other nations, like our previous example of Malta, require a much larger investment, making the citizenship by investment approach only a possibility for high net worth individuals.
Closing Thoughts Regarding a Second Passport in UAE
Obtaining a second passport in UAE is an investment that has the potential for a high pay off for many individuals, from business professionals and entrepreneurs to world travellers. Obtaining a second passport is especially beneficial for those who hail from war-torn or unstable nations whose travel options on their birth passports can be extremely limited.
Many citizenship opportunities also offer the possibility of permanent citizenship for future generations, making the high cost of such an endeavour a worthwhile sacrifice to make.
Citizenship by investment programs are growing in popularity by the day, and for those that can afford it, a second passport can offer security, stability, and freedom.