The rise (and rise) of second passports in the Middle East

Sep 30th, 2020

Rasha Seikaly describes the rise of the second passport industry in the Arabian Gulf, explains the benefits of a second passport, and gives an overview of how to acquire a second passport, and the best second programmes for GCC citizens. 

The Gulf Corporation Council, often referred to as the GCC, is made up of 6 countries: Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. In recent years, the GCC has become a major global powerhouse as the wealth and entrepreneurial spirit of its citizens has increased at anexponential rate.

Many Caribbean countries are popular passport choices for savvy entrepreneurs who are looking to reduce their tax liabilities.”

In recent times, many GCC residents have far-reaching global connections. Citizens own second homes and investment properties abroad. Parents send their children to high ranking international schools. Young entrepreneurs set their sights on global business opportunities and affluent individuals become global jet setters by trekking the planet in search of adventure. 

While all of this is possible with a passport from one of the six GCC countries, it can often require jumping through a few hoops along the way. A second passport from Europe, the Caribbean, Central America, or the United States can quickly open doors of opportunity and fast track your path to international success. 

Second passport, first choice
There are several benefits to acquiring a second passport for yourself, your family, and your business. These include:

Visa-free travel: Each passport affords its holder the right to travel to certain countries without the need to apply for a visa in advance. A passport’s strength is often determined by the number of countries it provides visa-free travel to. With the right passport, you can increase your ability to make last-minute trips with ease.

Investment and business opportunities: Dual-passport holders are uniquely positioned to benefit from investment and business opportunities often only available to residents. Many countries have restrictions in place regarding foreign investors, but as a dual passport holder, you will be free to participate in local business dealings and investment opportunities.

Tax benefits: If your primary reason for seeking a second passport is business-oriented, it is worth noting that many countries offer attractive tax rates which can help skyrocket your company to success. Many Caribbean countries are popular passport choices for savvy entrepreneurs who arelooking to reduce their tax liabilities.

Expanded reach for businesses: In the modern world it’s almost required for new businesses to operate on a larger global scale in order to achieve great success. A second passport will allow you to extend the reach of your business in a way that may have previously seemed impossible.

Protection from civil unrest and economic instability: As stock markets rise and fall, and the political unrest in the world poses a risk of conflicts, a second passport can provide a sense of safety and security for both your business and family. With a second passport, you will have the ability to quickly relocate your company and even your family at the first sign of economic or political turmoil.

Secure a stable future for your family: A second passport gives you the ability to raise your family in a more global setting. You will be able to send your children to the top international schools abroad while building a successful global business that can be passed down to your heirs.

Citizenship by investment


By far the easiest, fastest, and most popular method of obtaining a second passport is known as citizenship by investment programs. In addition to gaining a second passport, citizenship by investment programs also allows for the unique opportunity to acquire a second home or other investment property in the country you are applying for.

Second Citizenship Programs differ in terms of investment amounts, processing time and benefits offered to investors. The amount of the initial investment to get the process started varies greatly, starting as low as $100,000. Moreover, the processing time of the second citizenship application also varies, with some countries offering full citizenship in as little as 4 to 6 months, while others will first offer residency with the ability to apply for full citizenship after a certain amount of time, as is the case with the United States. 

The other paths to a second passport include naturalization and ancestral citizenship. The former is a lengthy process that often requires you to live in the selected country for several years before applying, while the latter requires proof of ancestral ties to the country in question.

Top options for GCC citizens


European Union:
 Obtaining a European passport is an especially attractive option if the ability to move and travel freely is a top priority for you. This is because once you have a European passport, you will have the ability to live and work anywhere within the European Union. Malta and Cyprus are two of the top options for second passports within the EU.

The Caribbean: The Caribbean is an attractive option for business due to many countries’ favorable tax rates and relatively inexpensive citizenship by investment programs. Saint Kitts & Nevis, Saint Lucia, and Dominica are all popular options.

The United States: The US has one of the strongest passports in the world, so it’s no surprise that it is one of the most desirable countries to obtain second citizenship for GCC residents. However, a US passport will take a bit longer to obtain than a European or a Caribbean Passport. To apply for citizenship by investment in the United States, you will first need to invest $900,000 to obtain a green card and then wait for 5 years in order to apply for full citizenship.


Demand for second passports has increased hugely in recent years, especially for those living in GCC member states. Those savvy enough to take the lead can take advantage of a broad range of benefits made available to those who opt to become a second citizen through a myriad of available programmes.

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