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)
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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.
 


German startup to help Saudi hotels utilize empty spaces

German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
Updated 21 January 2021

German startup to help Saudi hotels utilize empty spaces

German start-up NeuSpace, established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates, is now working in Saudi Arabia. (Shutterstock/File Photo)
  • COVID-19 pandemic has brought slump in average hotel occupancy rates in Saudi Arabia

RIYADH: A German start-up established during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic to help hotels overcome a slump in occupancy rates is now working in Saudi Arabia.

NeuSpace aims to assist operators in coming up with new ways to generate revenue from their empty spaces.

Anne Schaeflein, a co-founder of the Dusseldorf-based company, told Arab News: “For hotel properties still in the completion phase, we feel it is best to evaluate the perspective, and to diversify pre-opening.

“To be empathic to the existing (or planned) infrastructure and environment of the location, we run a feasibility study and look at how the space could be best used from an ROI (return on investment) as well as community perspective. Turning function spaces into day nurseries, delis, and bakeries,” she said.

Anne Schaeflein, Collaborative Founder NeuSpace. (Supplied)

According to the company’s website, it aims to address the needs of hotel investors, operators, and the wider community surrounding the property.

“We deliver quick solutions to retain some of the hospitality jobs, and add others, and offer attractive living space for communities, all within one to four months, depending on the individual projects,” the company said.

A report in November by global hotel data analysis company, STR, found that the average occupancy rate in Saudi Arabia was 34.7 percent, down 38.7 percent on the previous year. As a result, the average revenue per available room fell 35.5 percent year-on-year to SR172.70 ($46.05).

Looking to the future, real estate consultancy firm, Colliers International, has forecast that average occupancy rates in Riyadh and Alkhobar will be 55 percent, 51 percent in Jeddah and Madinah, and 37 percent in Makkah.

On innovative solutions, Schaeflein said the startup’s concept was formed around the key pillars of value preservation, creating new housing space, and innovative housing concepts.

She pointed out that the company looked at how areas such as roof gardens or social spaces could be used by the wider community, or how pools and spas not being used by guests could be utilized by local residents.

NeuSpace also studies how back-office services and facilities could be offered to residents to better utilize staffing levels. This could include offering dog-minding services, turning rooms into office or retail areas, or renting out restaurant and entertainment spaces when footfall was low.