The UAE does not have to provide citizenships to attract investments like other countries, said John Hanafin, managing director of Sovereign Corporate Services in Dubai.
Speaking on the sidelines of Global Citizenship Forum, Hanafin said that current global trends are indicative of increased migrant flow from European countries to other parts of the world. The motive of having a dual citizenship or a different passport was to escape strict tax regimes seen in the West, he said.
“People in Europe are moving to the other parts of the world not because of travel restrictions but simply because they do not like the tax regimes in their home jurisdiction,” said Hanafin.
“Countries have become brands, and brands that strategically connect with stakeholders enjoy foreign investment,” said Armand Arton, CEO and president of Arton Capital.
“The era of globalisation is changing the way we look at countries and investments.”
Hanafin said that countries advertise offers of citizenship to bring in more investment and generate income as a result.
“Over here they don’t necessarily need the income that comes from attracting new citizens.”
However, Hanafin said that if the UAE was to provide citizenship to expats it would be slightly detrimental.
“The way legislation is set up for corporates and businesses is that they require a local partner or a sponsor and by providing citizenships to expats, they will be opening up the business to everybody,” said Hanafin.
Hanafin said the only deterrent in attracting investment to the region is the government’s stipulation that a business needs to have a local partner.
“There have been talks to change this over the last three or four years especially in certain industries,” he said.
“International investors who come to the region say that they know that they want to be in the Middle East and the UAE but do not understand the local regulation for having a partner.”