The Rise of Citizenship by Investment in the GCC
Originally known as the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), The Cooperation Council for the Arab States of the Gulf, is an economic, political and intergovernmental union with members including Saudi Arabia, Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar and United Arab Emirates (UAE).
Over the years the GCC has risen to become a major center of business, wealth, and entrepreneurial aspirations. Many of its more affluent citizens have amassed significant wealth, having capitalized on regional opportunities to prosper.
This increase in wealth among residents has parked new and growing interest in second passports, with many savvy residents of Arab nations looking to expand their reach, influence, and interests abroad. The prospect of international or dual citizenship by way of a second passport is an alluring proposition, offering those who hold second passports a myriad of opportunities for investments, security, travel, business ventures, and more.
This guide will explore some of the key reasons behind the rise in demand for second passports in the GCC and why this trend is likely to continue in the future.
The GCC is Home to an Increasingly International Population
In today's age, the world is a much smaller place than it used to be, with residents of the GCC having far-reaching connections across the globe. Many GCC citizens own investment properties or second homes abroad, some families opt to send their children to top-rated international schools, and aspiring entrepreneurs often set their sights on global enterprise. For others, a nomadic lifestyle with frequent travel is the norm. A second passport makes all of these things and more not only possible but realistic and efficient.
Why the Trend in Second Passports in the GCC?
Second passport programs can be complex, laden with red tape and confusing paperwork, and with each program having its own unique set of rules, regulations, processes, deadlines, and costs. So why go through all the trouble of obtaining one?
Reputable firms in the “citizenship by investment” space have been helping affluent and forward-thinking residents of the GCC obtain second passports for decades. In recent years, companies like those have seen a boom in demand for applications, largely driven by the substantial benefits and opportunities second passports provide to applicants and their families for generations to come. From visa-free travel to 100s of countries to safety, security, access to resources, banking and business, and more.
Increased Business Opportunities
Business today is very much a global venture, with even local businesses competing on a multi-national level. Yet for those in the GCC, banking, financial, shipping, travel and other restrictions can put aspiring entrepreneurs and current business owners at a disadvantage. A second passport can open up many doors for businesses, from expanding their network to resolving logistic issues and overcoming restrictions and travel complications.
Open the Doors to Investment and Financial Options
A Second Passport allows its holders to set offshore companies and bank accounts so that they can enjoy the highest levels of confidentiality, diversify their asset portfolio, and have convenient access to funds. Also, investors might want to benefit from foreign exchange services and favorable tax environment abroad. All those benefits make a second passport an attractive proposition, opening up doors to countless investment paths for investors and their family.
Safety and Security for those in the GCC
Political changes, economic instability, evolving markets, threat of sanctions, and more can all put residents and their families at risk. Second passports provide their holders (and their family) with unparalleled mobility and freedom to travel and conduct personal and business moves abroad.
Education, Healthcare, and Amenities
Improved quality of life and access to a broader range of amenities is an attractive aspect of a second passport. Holders possess the ability to travel and explore various countries until they find the perfect fit. Second passports also open up the possibilities of access to prestigious international universities and high-quality healthcare.
An Investment that Yields Benefits for Generations
Many “citizenship by investment” programs include provisions that allow holders to pass down the citizenship to their heirs, providing future generations with the same opportunity to work, live, study, and travel abroad with ease.
The Freedom to Travel (visa-free)
For those living in GCC nations, world travel can be a challenge. Lengthy visa applications and wait times, to paperwork and even sanctions, can put a real damper on the ability to travel freely at will and unencumbered.
Citizenship programs in Caribbean countries such as St Kitts & Nevis, and residency in European nations such as Portugal and Cyprus - offer a solution, often allowing their holders to enjoy visa-free travel to over 130+ countries. Whether for work, education, pleasure, or business, this benefit is one of the most highly cited reasons why those in the GCC seek out for a second passport.
Demand for Second Passports in the GCC Continues to Grow
Given the state of the global economy, potential risks, and opportunities for global travel and business, it is unlikely we’ll see the demand for such passports to slow down anytime soon. Applications for second passports in the Caribbean and European nations has grown by triple digits for some nations year over year. This demand has grown the market for citizenship by investment and similar programs to over a $2 billion a year industry.