Why family business owners in UAE are seeking dual nationality

Expats who own companies in UAE struggle to get visa open bank accounts obtain business permits abroad

Dubai: A growing number of business owners in the UAE is looking to get a second passport, not just to see the world freely and secure better quality of life for their family, but also to skip red tape as they diversify their assets and expand their markets outside the Gulf.

According to Citizenship Invest, which assists clients who are eyeing a second nationality, expatriates with family businesses in the country and other parts of the region are also attracted by the prospect of lucrative returns abroad.

Who are they?

Particularly showing a great deal of interest are Middle Eastern businessmen from “more challenged” countries, such as Syria, Yemen, Iraq, Iran, Libya, as well as expatriates from Nigeria and Ghana who have already set up companies in the region.

These nationalities not only struggle to obtain visit visas, they also face restrictions when opening bank accounts and transferring money or acquiring a licence to do business abroad.

Such restrictions prove to be cumbersome, especially when entrepreneurs are looking to expand their business in places like Europe, the Americas and even Asia.

The US administration had earlier imposed a travel ban on citizens from a number of Muslim-majority countries, a move that has seen tens of thousands of American visas revoked.

While the US is tightening the influx of migrants, several countries are now allowing foreigners, including those who face a lot of travel restrictions, to acquire a second nationality in exchange for buying properties, bonds and other assets, and/or donating to a charity organisation.

From Dh275,000

If they have at their disposal a huge sum of money, which can be between Dh275,000 and Dh18 million, anyone can buy their way into a second citizenship and declare themselves an Austrian, British or Belgian.

And what’s more, they can expand their wealth at the same time.

The UAE-based family business owners who are interested in dual citizenship come from different backgrounds and have invested in construction, chemical, oil, retail and hospitality sectors.

“They mainly own their businesses, they are self-employed and are seeking a second citizenship ,” said Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest

“Basically, they are securing their families’ future. Holding a second nationality allows different options of wealth preservation as well as utilising better double taxation policies,” Cotdemiey said.

“Family offices tend to have a spread of businesses across different countries, in simple terms they ‘do not put all eggs in one basket’. Therefore, a second nationality helps them to maximise the potential of what they can achieve.”

She said a second passport that is more ‘internationally accepted’ than their current one “could open up the gates to infinite opportunities, from establishing businesses, opening bank accounts in safer economies and having a more efficient tax efficient set up to manage the family wealth to travelling without restrictions.”

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