(MENAFN– Karim Geadah) Written by Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO, Citizenship Invest
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has always been a magnet for the world’s High Net Worth Individuals (HNIs), who flock to its glamorous cities, such as Dubai and Abu Dhabi, to enjoy the opulent lifestyle that the country offers. Historically, the UAE’s elite has been associated with a penchant for luxury real estate, high-end automobiles, and extravagant goods. However, a discernible shift is occurring among the UAE’s elite – the acquisition of second passports and residencies.
In recent years, HNIs in the UAE have started to diversify their investments, incorporating citizenship or residency-by-investment programs into their portfolios. This emerging trend is reshaping the concept of status and privilege among the nation’s affluent for a number of reasons.
Top Nationalities Applying for Second Passports in the UAE
While the trend of UAE’s elite seeking second passports and residencies may not be surprising, the nationalities that are actively pursuing such programs might be making an unexpected turn. Exclusive data from Citizenship Invest have highlighted how such programs have attracted applicants from diverse nationalities that are residing in the country and how the landscape has seen intriguing shifts compared to the previous years.
Over the past 12 months, the following nationalities have emerged as the most popular among UAE residents applying for residency and citizenship by investment programs:
India (16% of total applicants): With a significant 16% share of total applicants, Indian nationals have retained their leading position in the race for UAE residency and citizenship.
Lebanon (14%): Lebanese applicants have claimed the second spot, constituting 14% of the applicant pool.
Syria (11%): Syrian nationals follow closely behind, representing 11% of those seeking UAE residency and citizenship.
Pakistan (9%): Applicants from Pakistan hold the fourth position, accounting for 9% of the total applicant pool.
Iran (7%): Iranian nationals round out the top five, with 7% of the applicants in the mix.
Comparatively, in 2022, Citizenship Invest witnessed a similar trend with slight variations. Indian nationals led the pack, comprising 18% of the applicant, and Lebanese applicants followed closely at 12%. Syrian nationals secured the third position with a 9% share, followed by Iranians, who maintained their 7% share of applicants.
This data demonstrates the enduring popularity of residency and citizenship by investment programs among these specific nationalities over the years. The interest of these nationalities isn’t confined solely to the UAE’s Golden Visa program. They have also shown keen interest in second citizenship programs offered by Caribbean nations like St. Kitts & Nevis, Dominica, St. Lucia, Antigua, and Grenada. Moreover, European residency programs in countries such as Portugal, Spain, and Greece have garnered attention from individuals hailing from these nations. This highlights a broader international trend where various options are available for obtaining residency and citizenship, catering to a range of preferences and objectives.
The Rise of Russian Investors and Diverse Nationalities on the Horizon
Another development in 2023 has been the remarkable increase in Russian investors pursuing real estate investments for the UAE Golden Visa. In 2022, Russians accounted for less than 2% of UAE residents, but this figure has surged to 6% of all UAE-based investors in 2023. This growth underscores the growing appeal of the UAE’s Golden Visa program to Russian nationals, possibly driven by economic, lifestyle, or geopolitical factors.
The most striking shift in recent times is the influx of nationalities that were relatively uncommon in historical data. Individuals from a diverse array of countries, not limited to Dubai but spanning across the globe, have shown a growing interest in UAE residency and citizenship programs. These nationalities include South Asian countries like Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, African nations such as Guinea, Mozambique, Senegal, Madagascar, Nigeria, and South Africa, and Central Asian countries like Armenia, Tajikistan, and Kazakhstan.
This shift underlines the evolving landscape of residency and citizenship by investment, illustrating the widening appeal of these programs across various demographics. The UAE’s continued attractiveness as a destination for those seeking a new place to call home or to diversify their citizenship portfolio remains a testament to the adaptability and allure of these programs in an ever-changing world.
Boundless Horizons, Shielding Your Future
Perhaps the most compelling reason behind the surge in demand for second passports among the UAE’s elite is the unprecedented level of global mobility they offer. A second passport opens doors to a world of opportunities, including hassle-free international travel, access to global business networks, and an easier route to establishing offshore companies. It provides the freedom to explore new horizons and tap into international markets without the constraints of a single citizenship.
Additionally, a second passport serves as a valuable insurance policy. It provides an alternative place of residence, offering refuge and security in uncertain times. In an ever-changing world, a second passport is a symbol of preparedness and resilience.
Enhancing Your Lifestyle and Broadening Wealth Portfolio
While the UAE offers a lavish lifestyle, second passports often come with additional perks that enhance the quality of life. These perks can include access to high-quality healthcare and education, tax benefits, and the ability to live in desirable countries. A second passport signifies not just the ability to travel instantly and freely but the capacity to elevate one’s lifestyle, adding to the privilege of acquiring one.
As part of a comprehensive wealth management strategy, the elite are increasingly diversifying their assets. Just as one diversifies investments across various asset classes to mitigate risk, owning a second passport is seen as a diversification of citizenship. It ensures that an individual is not overly dependent on the privileges and protections of a single nation.
Economic Opportunities and Cultivating a Legacy
For the elite, securing a second passport often means securing their wealth and expanding their economic reach. The presence of a second passport can significantly boost an individual’s desirability in the business world and among peers. It can facilitate ease of travel and collaboration, and it is often viewed as a mark of success. The notion that one can belong to multiple countries, a global citizen, is becoming a symbol of prestige and privilege.
Furthermore, a number of HNIs are acquiring second passports not only for themselves but also for their families with the aim of securing a brighter future for their loved ones, and granting access to world-class education and healthcare. Thus, A second passport can be seen as a legacy investment, ensuring the prosperity of generations to come.
Beyond these examples, the growing appreciation among the global elite for the benefits of investing in a second passport cannot be denied. While luxury real estate, high-end automobiles, and extravagant goods remain important status symbols, the acquisition of second passports and residencies is gaining prominence as a new symbol of privilege. As the world of status symbols evolves, the UAE’s elite continues to redefine what it means to be truly privileged in an increasingly globalised world.