Biden win spurs Gulf US visa scheme demand

Biden win spurs Gulf US visa scheme demand
President-elect Joe Biden said he plans to reverse the executive order banning citizens of 13 countries from entering the US. (AFP)
Short Url
Updated 13 November 2020

Biden win spurs Gulf US visa scheme demand

Biden win spurs Gulf US visa scheme demand
  • Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, and the president-elect’s plans to quickly reverse some of Trump’s policies on immigration, has renewed interest in the program among residents and citizens in the Gulf region

DUBAI: Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential election has spurred renewed demand for an investment program offering foreign investors a chance to apply for American citizenship, according to two companies promoting the scheme in the region.
The EB-5 Immigrant Investor Program was established by the US Congress in 1990 to boost foreign direct investment in deprived areas of the US. International applicants who invest a minimum of $900,000 can potentially obtain a green card and ultimately apply for full American citizenship.
Biden’s victory over President Donald Trump, and the president-elect’s plans to quickly reverse some of Trump’s policies on immigration, has renewed interest in the program among residents and citizens in the Gulf region.
“We’ve seen a surge of calls,” Shai Zamanian, director of the American Legal Center consultancy firm said. Zamanian, whose company is based in Dubai but has partner offices in Riyadh and Jeddah, said he has seen “a good response” from applicants in the Kingdom.
“There is renewed hope in the US and therefore people are willing to consider and invest and think of the US as a long-term option and a place where they want to take their families,” he added.
There was a similar spike in demand for the EB-5 program when Trump was elected four years ago, due to his economic policies, but his negative stance on immigration and foreign workers resulted in declining interest. Trump signed an executive order in 2017 banning citizens from 13 countries, including Iran, Libya, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, from traveling to the US. Biden has said that he plans to reverse this order on his first day in office.
“We definitely needed Biden to win because one of his main stances has been to change the negative impact that Trump has had on immigration,” said Preeya Malik, managing director of STEP Global Group, a Dubai-based company that offers the EB-5 program.
“When he was elected, the phone started ringing the next day,” she said.
 


KBW Ventures increases stake in US cellular seafood company

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures' founder and CEO, at the Milken Institute. (Supplied)
Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures' founder and CEO, at the Milken Institute. (Supplied)
Updated 19 January 2021

KBW Ventures increases stake in US cellular seafood company

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal, KBW Ventures' founder and CEO, at the Milken Institute. (Supplied)
  • BlueNalu produces a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells
  • KBW Ventures invests in companies with transformative technologies and business models

DUBAI: KBW Ventures, the company founded by Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, was among a group of backers who agreed to refinance $60 million of debt held by a Californian cellular agriculture seafood company, it was announced on Tuesday.

BlueNalu produces a variety of seafood products directly from fish cells. In addition to the latest debt financing, it previously raised $4.5 million in early 2018 and $20 million in 2020.

The San Diego company aims to use the funding to open a 40,000 square foot pilot production facility as part of its bid to launch a pilot program and eventually distribute its products across the US.

“The team at BlueNalu is driven to produce cell-based seafood products that are healthy for consumers, humane for animals, sustainable for our planet and provide increased food security to each nation in which we go to market,” said Lou Cooperhouse, BlueNalu president and CEO.

“This recent round of funding will allow us to continue advancing our mission and the next phase of our commercialization plans, while we continue to develop strategic partnerships that we expect will provide us with global market reach during the coming years.”

Prince Khaled bin Alwaleed bin Talal Al-Saud, founder and CEO of KBW Ventures, added: “We have increased our stake in BlueNalu by investing for the second time. Our commitment to inject further capital is based on the company’s impressive forward roadmap, detailing a clear path to ramping up production and bringing its first product to market at this crucial period in the pandemic. KBW Ventures is pleased to play a role in the largest round ever for a cell-based seafood company, aligning ourselves with mission-driven businesses that seek to solve the world’s food security issues sustainably.”

Amir Feder, BlueNalu’s CFO, said the company is confident it can penetrate the lucrative $200 billion global seafood market and that it is in the process of signing up a series of international strategic partners.

Last month, KBW Ventures also increased its investment in a Singapore-based biotech company aiming to produce lab-grown dairy products. TurtleTree Labs raised $6.2 million as part of its latest round of funding. Besides KBW Ventures, other investors included Green Monday Ventures, Eat Beyond Global and Verso Capital.

Founded in 2019, TurtleTree Labs, which has offices in San Francisco and Singapore, will use the funds to accelerate research and production of functional, bioactive proteins and complex sugars found in human milk.

The company hopes these will have potential benefits in gut and brain health, which can be applied to both infant and senior nutrition and offer a viable alternative to animal-based dairy products.

KBW Ventures invests in companies with transformative technologies and business models. Its other investments include the Colorado-based pet food firm Bond Pet Foods and California’s Beyond Meat.