By Arab News
Egypt is offering citizenship to foreigners willing to buy real estate worth at least $500,000 or pay $250,000 to the state treasury under amendments to the country’s nationality laws.
The move is part of Egypt’s bid to boost its finances and draw back foreign investment that fled the country in the wake of its 2011 uprising.
In its latest initiative, the Council of Ministers stipulated four conditions under which foreigners will be granted Egyptian citizenship.
First, an individual can buy Egyptian real estate, government-owned or otherwise and worth at least $500,000, with the money wired from abroad according to Central Bank rules.
Second, if the person establishes or takes part in an investment project worth at least $400,000, with the money also wired from abroad. The foreigner’s share in the project cannot be less than 40 percent and must comply with Egyptian investment law.
Third, if a foreigner deposits $750,000 from abroad. The deposit may be returned after five years in Egyptian pounds according to the exchange rate at the time. The deposit may be exchanged after three years if the individual deposits $1 million or more. In both cases, no interest will be applied.
The fourth condition is if the foreigner transfers a nonrefundable $250,000 to the state treasury from abroad. Parliament must confirm any citizenships that are conferred.
The council’s decision ignited a spate of rumors, with claims that it applied to Israelis, Iranians and Turks, three countries that have tense relations with Egypt.
However, a member of the Defense and National Security Committee, Maj. Gen. Yehya Al-Kedwani, said that national security requirements will be taken into consideration before nationality is granted to anyone.
“The law gives the prime minister authority to establish a committee that will focus on all aspects of the process, including that of the national security authorities, to decide on applications for citizenship within three months if several conditions are met, the first of which is the deposit of $10,000 (the application fee),” Al-Kedwani said.
Foreigners can apply for a six-month residency permit until all the requirements are met.
“Egyptian citizens, rest assured,” Al-Kedwani said. “This is a common occurrence in many countries and it will be a chance to have investments in the country.”
However, Amgad Riad, an economic expert, told Arab News the citizenship offer is unlikely to attract any kind of investment.
“It appears to be a catalyst for investment, but the current law has many incentives for investors, including the right to residency and recruitment,” he said.
Riad said the goal behind the newly issued decision is unclear.