London: For decades, foreign professionals have played a key role in building the economies of Gulf states like the UAE. Almost 90 percent of the country’s population is expatriate. However, with a forecasted economic downturn due to the coronavirus pandemic and record low oil prices, a growing number of expatriates are continuing to uproot. The data firm Oxford Economics estimates that the UAE could lose 900,000 jobs among a population of under 10 million, meaning some 10 percent of its residents could be uprooted during the ongoing pandemic.
To minimise the exodus, UAE authorities recently announced plans to offer citizenship to select foreigners based on several criteria. Nonetheless, foreigners must be nominated by UAE royals or officials, and the country’s Cabinet would get the final say.
The new policy is a big deal, but the specific details of the offering are yet to be seen, said Micha Emmett, the CEO of CS Global Partners, a London-based government advisory. “The pathway to citizenship for expatriates is limited in scope as they have no agency to apply for citizenship in the UAE. It is more of a feel-good story than a driver of economic returns or one that presents security to the UAE’s foreign workforce.”
“Without adequate access to citizenship rights, social welfare benefits, protection against expulsion by authorities and constant reliance on employment visas, expatriates are looking to more promising citizenship avenues like Caribbean Citizenship by Investment Programmes,” she said. Emmett added that CS Global Partners’ office in the Middle East has also seen an increased interest in economic citizenship programmes like that of St Kitts and Nevis, which does not have any travel, residency or language requirements.
The St Kitts and Nevis Citizenship by Investment Programme has long been regarded as the Platinum Standard of the industry and is known for its discreet approach, streamlined processing, and strict due diligence procedures. The Sustainable Growth Fund option is particularly popular amongst larger families who often have additional dependants, both children and grandchildren, to add to their application. Under a limited time offer, families of up to four can gain citizenship for US$150,000 instead of US$195,000. After passing a strict vetting process and applying for a passport, new citizens gain the right to live, work, and travel to some of the most sought-after business hubs across the globe world.
“Citizenship by Investment can be the perfect Plan B to gain control and security for your family and your finances in difficult times like this pandemic. You don’t have to wait for Royals to choose you. You get to decide,” Emmett concluded.