Philippe Amarante is a Managing Partner at Henley & Partners and the Head of the firm’s Dubai office.
With the pandemic gradually receding, we are seeing some interesting dynamics in the Middle East pertaining to both private clients and major sovereigns from an investment migration standpoint.
Since restrictions were lifted our key audiences have demonstrated a hunger for international travel greater than ever before, and a deep desire to see a world that was simply closed during the pandemic. Even though much of our audience already has at least dual citizenship, there is a common belief that their existing statuses still might not be resilient enough. Some of our clients who had already invested in real estate in Caribbean jurisdictions to qualify for citizenship by investment some time ago are now also investing in holiday homes in various European countries to acquire further residence and citizenship options with all the associated lifestyle benefits Europe has to offer.
This degree of confidence in investment migration among private clients is clearly visible in markets such as Egypt, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the UAE. Clients are also performing more research and in-depth due diligence on the solutions available to them to ensure they cover all possible angles in their decision-making process. Recent events such as the EU’s temporary suspension of its visa-waiver on Vanuatu’s passport appear to have received broad support from clients, who were raising concerns about unregulated schemes and initiatives that were influencing how they perceived more robust residence and citizenship solutions.
Clients are also showing strong interest in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. The UAE has spearheaded this surge with its competitive, agile approach to adapting regulations and remains a powerful magnet for capital and talent. Investors from all over the world continue to relocate to the country either in a private capacity, with their businesses, or both. This seemed to have been a temporary effect due to the UAE leadership’s efficient pandemic management, but roots in the UAE are now becoming a must-have asset in every high-net-worth investor’s portfolio.
We have also seen a significant increase in investor interest in Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Much like the UAE, Bahrain applies a nimble, and therefore highly attractive, approach to private clients wishing to invest in the country’s real estate or industrial sectors. The recent start of the construction of the Bahrain–US trade zone as a regional center for manufacturing, logistics, and distribution for American companies in the kingdom, in the GCC markets, and beyond, has increased Bahrain’s attractiveness.
Meanwhile, economic and social developments in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have made its premium residency initiative look increasingly appealing to the global community of high-net-worth-individuals. Research suggests that the education sector in Saudi Arabia benefited from the use of social media during the pandemic, with the result that academics, higher education institutions, and educational technology application providers are increasingly interested in the opportunities the kingdom offers.