Jump in demand for second passports among KSA expats

Jump in demand for second passports among KSA expats
Libyan expats in Saudi Arabia are the biggest group looking for a second citizenship, followed by Syrians, Indians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Yemenis and Egyptians. (Reuters)
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Updated 04 May 2021

Jump in demand for second passports among KSA expats

Jump in demand for second passports among KSA expats
  • The desire to obtain a second passport is not a new phenomenon in the Middle East

RIYADH: Expatriates living in Saudi Arabia are more interested than ever in obtaining second passports, according to new data from Dubai-headquartered immigration firm Citizenship Invest (CI).

In an interview with Arab News, CEO Veronica Cotdemiey said that in the second half of 2020, interest among expats in the Kingdom in obtaining a second passport through various investment schemes increased 46 percent.

CI said Libyan expats in Saudi Arabia were the biggest group looking for a second citizenship, followed by Syrians, Indians, Iraqis, Lebanese, Yemenis and Egyptians. 

According to Cotdemiey, the ongoing coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic gave many people the opportunity to reflect on “essential issues” and provided those with the financial means a way of moving themselves and their families to more secure countries, potentially with better healthcare systems.

“People have realized that they strongly need a plan B, regardless of whether or not they have solid jobs or businesses, as this goes beyond financial security,” she said. “The power of having a strong passport in times of crisis is the ultimate insurance policy.”

Cotdemiey said that many high-net-worth individuals found themselves trapped in their home countries during the pandemic, unable to take their families to more secure countries because of the required visas to do so. “This triggered a sense of urgency, and many are finally taking the plunge to acquire second citizenships and passports, to never face that situation again,” she said. In addition to gaining a second passport, citizenship by investment programs often requires investors to acquire a second home or other investment property in the country in which they are applying for citizenship.

The top three most popular programs selected by expats in Saudi Arabia were St. Kitts & Nevis with 46 percent of the applications, the Commonwealth of Dominica with 21 percent, and Vanuatu with 18 percent.

According to data provided by CI, the top three most popular programs selected by expats in Saudi Arabia were St. Kitts & Nevis with 46 percent of the applications, the Commonwealth of Dominica with 21 percent, and Vanuatu — a country formed by 83 islands similar to the Maldives and located close to Australia — with 18 percent.

Other countries include Grenada, which made up 6.28 percent of applications, Portugal (3.43 percent), St. Lucia (2.86 percent) and Antigua (1.14 percent).

Cotdemiey also said that the minimum investment required for a second passport starts at $100,000. For St. Kitts and Nevis, a limited-time offer is available for the next six months, decreasing the required financial contribution to the two-island nation’s Sustainable Growth Fund from $195,000 to $150,000.

Dominica, which has another popular citizenship program, has decreased the non-refundable contribution for a family of four from $200,000 to $175,000. It has also incorporated the inclusion of the main applicant’s siblings or spouse under one application.

The desire to obtain a second passport is not a new phenomenon in the Middle East. In 2019, Arabian Business Magazine reported that nearly one-third of respondents to a global online survey by Arton Capital, a Canadian firm that specializes in global residency and citizenship investor programs, said that they had acquired citizenship of a country other than their country of origin, or planned to do so.

In 2017, CI also reported that high-net-worth families and residents in the Kingdom contributed to an over 70 percent increase in demand for second European and Caribbean nationalities.


Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing

Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing
Updated 16 May 2021

Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing

Oxford study: Return of US shale could derail oil market rebalancing
  • With global crude prices heading back toward $70 a barrel, the financial pressures on US shale have eased

DUBAI: The rising oil price could allow for a significant return of US shale to the market in 2022, potentially threatening the rebalancing of the global oil market, according to an analysis by the authoritative Oxford Institute for Energy Studies.

In its latest monthly report, Institute Director Bassam Fattouh and analyst Andreas Economou wrote: “As we enter 2022, the US shale response becomes a major source of uncertainty amid an uneven recovery across shale plays and players alike. As in previous cycles, US shale will remain a key factor shaping market outcomes.”

With global crude prices heading back toward $70 a barrel, the financial pressures on US shale have eased, and producers have adapted to the constraints of lower demand. “There has been a shift in perceptions about this sector’s behavior. There is a widely held belief that US shale producers have endorsed the principle of capital discipline,” the authors said.

The key “rig count” — the number of drilling operations in progress on shale fields — is set to rise to 602 by the end of the year, a big jump from the 13-year low of 222 rigs last summer. While the direct relationship between rigs and production is complex, the authors concluded that rising shale output could affect the careful calculations of OPEC+, the producers’ alliance led by Saudi Arabia and Russia, to balance the global market.

“Unless demand underperforms relative to current expectations, an increase in US shale output of 0.95 million barrels per day could be absorbed, though this would reduce the overall supply deficit to 0.66 million. If the US shale growth hits the upper bound of 1.22 million barrels per day and demand recovery turns out to be slower than expected, then US shale could disturb the rebalancing, flipping the market into a surplus in Q4 2022,” the report added.


UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing

UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing
Updated 16 May 2021

UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing

UAE’s Ras al Khaimah reveals 20 attractions to get pulse racing

DUBAI: The UAE's northernmost emirate has revealed a 500 million dirhams ($136 million) tourism investment plan to tempt thrill seekers and lovers of the great outdoors.
Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority revealed the plans at the Arabian Travel Market which kicked off in Dubai on Sunday.
Some are located at Jebel Jais, the UAE’s highest peak and focus on nature, leisure, adventure, accessibility and authenticity.

"This multi-million investment plan further demonstrates our resolve and commitment to tourism, despite the global challenges faced this past year that continue to shake our industry today," said  Raki Phillips, CEO of Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority.

Here are some of the projects that RAK is promoting at this year's travel gathering:

• Earth Hotels Altitude, an eco-based pop-up hotel concept set to feature 15 fully fitted accommodation units, an activation center and swimming pool.

• Saij, A Mantis Collection Mountain Lodge, comprising 35 luxury lodges.



• Cloud7 Camp Jebel Jais – a glamping experience with 30 accommodation units built out of sustainable material.

• The new Basecamp Jais will offer affordable accommodation for outdoor enthusiasts, thrill seekers and nature lovers as well as a range of activities such as yoga, Emirati live cooking and will serve as a leisure hub at the base of the rugged mountains.

• Jais Yard - an F&B Village with food trailers, kiosks, retail containers, vintage truck restaurants, open air cinema and children's play areas.

• Jais Wings - adventure seekers can take off on a paragliding experience from the top of Jebel Jais with landing pads near Saraya Islands and Al Rams. It will be the region’s first dedicated paragliding site in the GCC.



• Balloon Base with fixed hot air balloons that visitors can take in the infinite beauty of Jebel Jais.

• Jais Swing - an Instagramable swing made of twin ropes that provide amazing views and a unique content opportunity.

• Wadi Track at Wadi Showka will feature a new bicycle pump track for bike enthusiasts of all ages.



• Ras Al Khaimah is set to host the first ‘HIGHLANDER’ hiking experience in the GCC in November 2021.
 
• A mega-beachfront development by Marjan with a marine district, inflatable aqua park, leisure trampoline, swimming pool, outdoor gym and extensive food and beverage offering.

• Scallop Ranch at Al Hamra Marine will offer oyster/scallop diving, live cooking, family and kids’ experiences, and cultural activations.



• Cloud7 Camp AlSawan – a luxury glamping experience with 60 units where guests can learn what it takes to become an agriculturalist.

• Flying Arch at Manar Mall will welcome the region's first 130-metre aerial structure composed of over 1.5 million knots and around 300 km of twine that will cause the wind to create a choreography of constantly changing shape and color.

• Luminaze at Manar Mall will also welcome an aesthetic and playful art installation based on a light maze, ideal for family and team activities.

• Ras Al Khaimah is developing Mövenpick Resort Al Marjan Island with 418 hotel keys and direct sea views. Guests can choose from large-sized family rooms, suites or 28 beachfront chalets with private pools and gardens.


Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market

Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market
Updated 16 May 2021

Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market

Gulf Air delays jet deliveries in difficult market
  • Gulf Air has previously said it was looking to delay deliveries of Airbus A320neo jets and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners

DUBAI: Gulf Air’s chairman on Sunday said that market conditions remain difficult and that the Bahrain state carrier had reached a deal with Airbus and Boeing to delay deliveries of some new aircraft.
Flying remains at very low levels around the world as airlines struggle to rebound from the COVID-19 pandemic that has left many planes grounded or flying near-empty.
“It is very difficult because you are bound by your destinations. We have the fleet. We have the crew. We would like to fly to as many as places as we can, but we have to factor in demand,” Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani told reporters at the Arabian Travel Market exhibition in Dubai.
The Bahraini airline has reached an agreement with Airbus and Boeing to delay aicraft that were scheduled for delivery in 2020 and 2021 by about six to nine months, he said.
Zayani, also a Bahraini government minister, did not disclose which aircraft had been delayed, but he said the airline would receive six new jets this year, twice as many as it did in 2020.
Gulf Air has previously said it was looking to delay deliveries of Airbus A320neo jets and Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners.
The airline is not canceling aircraft orders, Zayani said.
Asked if Gulf Air was receiving “government support,” he replied: “who isn’t?”
The airline received 36 million dinars ($95.6 million) from the Bahrain government last year, according to a government bond prospectus seen by Reuters.


Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P

Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P
Updated 16 May 2021

Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P

Saudi bank mortgage portfolios to expand 30 percent annually says S&P
  • The credit ratings agency expects mortgage portfolios in the banking sector to expand by about 30 percent annually over the next couple of years

DUBAI: Strong housing demand and the government’s commitment to meet Vision 2030 targets is expected to support Saudi credit growth over the next two years, S&P said.
The credit ratings agency expects mortgage portfolios in the banking sector to expand by about 30 percent annually over the next couple of years as total growth is expected to top 10 percent in 2021-2022.
“Our assessment of economic risk reflects our view that the Saudi Arabian economy recently started to rebound, with global economic conditions and oil markets improving and the global economy emerging from the pandemic,” S&P said in a report on Sunday. “We expect government efforts to meet Vision 2030 targets and strong demand for housing from Saudi nationals will support solid mortgage and retail loan growth.”
S&P said it expects credit costs to be elevated as the government phases out pandemic-related support packages. However the Kingdom’s central bank has consistently encouraged banks to build strong loan loss provisions, it said.
Lenders in the Kingdom also benefit from a low-cost and stable core deposit base, with limited reliance on external debt. Low cost of funds and better-than-average cost of risk have supported the banking sector’s profitability, said S&P.
“We continue to see banks’ healthy funding and liquidity profiles as a key differentiator when compared with most other banking systems in the region and globally,” it said.
Despite the jump in mortgage lending, house price growth has been muted in the Kingdom because of a strong supply pipeline and the absence of speculation.
“We expect only modest growth in prices in real terms over the next few years,” said S&P. “We also note that commercial real estate prices performed much weaker than residential ones. Changes in customer behavior and a shift toward online deliveries and more widespread remote work could put pressure on this segment of the market.”


Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance

Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance
Updated 16 May 2021

Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance

Dubai’s Amanat profit surges on strong health unit performance
  • The Dubai-listed company saw a 449.9 percent year-on-year increase in net profit

DUBAI: Healthcare and education investment company Amanat has reported a fivefold increase in net profit to 31.5 million dirhams ($8.6 million) in the first three months of the year.
The Dubai-listed company saw a 449.9 percent year-on-year increase in net profit, as it managed to bring down its expenses by 30.7 percent.
The increase was driven by the company’s health care portfolio, with its most recent acquisition, the Cambridge Medical and Rehabilitation Center (CMRC).
The CMRC contributed up to 6.2 million dirhams to Amanat’s income from its health care investments.
“The start of 2021 we began to reap the benefits of the strategic decisions taken during 2020 and we are also taking important steps to further optimize our portfolio,” Amanat chair Hamad Alshamsi said.
Amanat’s education portfolio also delivered steady growth on the back of higher enrollments. Income from the company’s education investments in the first quarter reached up to 8.8 million dirhams — up from 2.5 million dirhams last year.
It also boosted its operational efficiency throughout the year, bringing total expenses down. Staff costs declined by 24 percent, general expenses by 42 percent, and project expenses by 78.5 percent.