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European Passports Made Easier for Arab Real Estate Investors

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Many European countries made the laws and conditions regulating the issuance of residence permits easier for businessmen and real estate investors, in an attempt to spur the real estate investment activity and push the market growth.

Middle East investors, among others from many areas around the world like China and Russia, took advantage of these considerably more lenient laws, especially Libyan, Yemeni, Syrian, and Iraqi investors who are seeking refuge from their war-torn countries.

In fact, both sides are beneficiaries. Investors, no matter their nationalities, will find a safe place to live and run business, while countries can draw in foreign investments to support them on pursuing their economic development programs.

Malta

Buying a property in the small European island is one of the easiest ways to get a residence permit.

By purchasing a property that’s worth 320,000 euros, or more, the property owner becomes eligible for receiving a permit.

Investor will then be able to apply for Maltese Citizenship, only if he submits what proofs that he stayed in Malta for 12 months prior to the day of the release of the neutralization certificate.

Having the Maltese passport means being able to live and work anywhere in the European Union, travel visa-free to USA, and access Switzerland as well as other 166 countries without a visa.

Turkey

Foreigners who own a property anywhere around Turkey are made eligible for receiving a residence permit by Turkish law.

Trying to attract bigger investments to its market, Turkey issued a new law earlier this month making Turkish citizenship easier for property investors.

The new law states that investors who buy $1 million property can obtain a citizenship after holding it for three years.

This move had great percussions on the Turkish economic arena. A lot of analysts were in favor of the new law, while others had strict notes on it.

“Mohammed Yilmaz”, writer in the English-language newspaper Hurriyet, criticized the law saying that this decision had to be taken 6 years ago when the local economy was more attractive.

Portugal

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In 2015, Portugal announced cutting the minimum investment value for its “Golden Visa” from 500,000 to 350,000 euros, in a pursuit to encourage more investments in its local real estate market.

The Portuguese golden visa is offered to non-EU citizens who are about to carry out an investment in the country. The visa includes a non-conditioned residency permit for the investor and his family.

Moreover, holders of the golden visa may have access to a permanent residence permit or a Portuguese citizenship, only according to the current legal provisions.

GCC states desiring to get a cut

For the same aim, many of the Gulf countries have passed new laws and regulations making property investment for foreigners easier.

Bahrain for example made buying a property on its lands very appealing by shaping an attractive market that holds very positive prospects for investors.

The kingdom’s tale with foreign real estate investment started in 1999 after passing a law defining a certain areas for freehold ownership like Juffair, Seef, Busaiteen, and other vital locations.

According to the new law, residence permits are issued for investors buying properties worth more than BHD50,000.

Since then, the kingdom witnessed major real estate investments carried out by buyers from various nationalities, however, Arabs and GCC nationals constituted the biggest share.

That’s not the end of it, Bahrain’s endeavor for attracting more investments is still on the go. Last year, the government issued a new law enabling 100% business ownership for foreigners in an attempt to support non-Bahrainis willing to start a business in the kingdom.

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The State of Abu Dhabi issued a new law also last year putting a stricter framework of its real estate market.

The law aims to protect buyer’s rights and increase investors’ confidence in the state’s market, in order to boost real estate investment.

By the provisions of the new law, a registry will be founded collating all real estate developers in Abu Dhabi. All developers must be listed in the registry in order to practice the activity.

It’s been evident that GCC States are opening their arms for Middle East and Khaliji real estate investments, posing themselves as good alternative for European property markets.

Results haven’t yet been satisfying as Western markets are still more appealing for Arab investors, however, this is not expected to last too long as more investors are setting their sights towards Gulf properties.