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.