Philippe Amarante is a Managing Partner at Henley & Partners and the Head of the firm’s Dubai office.
The Middle East has seen a strong surge in investment migration solutions post pandemic. This applies both to inbound investment migration programs such as UAE’s golden visa options and outbound in the form of investors securing second or third homes via investment migration-linked real estate acquisitions. Particular countries of interest in this regard are Greece, Portugal, and Spain. While a level of uncertainty remained tangible at the end of 2021, with the outlook for 2022 and related risks on a geopolitical level, the rise of interest rates but strongly performing businesses and successful entrepreneurs, the current year appears to be a somewhat “now or never” period. The need for additional residence and citizenship options, and the recognition that they are indispensable assets to acquire in order to maintain optionality and access rights, prevails.
Strong demand for residence and citizenship by investment continues to emanate from UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Pakistan. Recently, demand looks to have picked up in Kuwait, Oman, and Bahrain, possibly accelerated in the latter two countries by their announcement of long-term golden visas — Oman in September 2021 and Bahrain in February 2022. Both awareness and acceptance of residence and citizenship by investment appear to be on the rise in these countries.
The diversity of our region is reflected in the wide range of key destinations of choice, but demand has always been highest for Mediterranean countries. Interest in the Americas has somewhat cooled, but two Caribbean island nations remain highly attractive to Middle Eastern investors — St. Lucia and Grenada. With the unfortunate variance in governance and lack of robustness in certain investment migration programs, our clientele has thankfully become extremely savvy when it comes to assessing the strength of a program beyond its immediate benefits such as visa-free access. The international reputation of a program, the need for liked-minded investors in a program, and the thoroughness of the application process are becoming increasingly important decision-making factors for investors, with financial requirements appearing to be less of importance. Better safe than sorry.