New conditions for obtaining Egyptian nationality indicate a challenging greenback shortage

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The Egyptian government has facilitated the conditions for obtaining citizenship for foreigners in exchange for depositing a dollar deposit in an Egyptian bank, purchasing facilities, or investing in companies. This comes within the framework of attempts to confront the dollar shortage crisis since 2022, while experts doubt the decision will significantly impact.

Discounts of up to 40%

The conditions for obtaining Egyptian citizenship in exchange for dollars, which the Prime Minister approved for the first time in 2019, consisted of buying a property for an amount of no less than 500 thousand US dollars or participating in an investment project for an amount of no less than 400 thousand dollars with a participation rate of no less than 40%, from the capital of the project, or depositing a deposit of 750,000 US dollars, which will be returned after five years in pounds, or depositing sediment of one million dollars, which will be returned after three years in pounds as well or obtaining citizenship for 250,000 dollars that will not be returned. These conditions only attracted a few people to obtain Egyptian nationality. The matter was limited to dozens, mostly Palestinians, Syrians and Libyans, who have lived and worked in Egypt for years without getting Egyptian nationality, especially since their countries are facing crises and wars.

The new decision reduced the conditions for obtaining citizenship in exchange for buying a property owned by the state or other public legal persons to $300,000 instead of $500,000, with the possibility of paying the amount in instalments within a year, with the buyer being granted residence for tourism during that period, and then giving him citizenship after paying the total amount. As for establishing an investment project or participating in it, the amendments stipulated that the amount be reduced to 350 $, with a deposit of 100 $ from the project’s revenues directly in the public treasury, not refundable, instead of the old decision to contribute an amount of 400 $, and the participation rate should not be less than 40% of the project capital.

As for deposits, the decision reduced their value to become a condition for obtaining citizenship in exchange for depositing an amount of $500,000 for three years only, after which it will be refunded in pounds at the exchange rate announced at the time without interest, instead of the previous condition of depositing an amount of $750,000 as a five-year deposit, or a deposit of one million dollars as a deposit for three years. As for granting citizenship in return for money, the decision authorised the payment of $250,000 in instalments. The applicant was granted a residence document for tourism during that period and then granted citizenship after paying the total amount.

Does the decision have a significant impact?

The government’s decision drew criticism from Egyptian nationalists. A lawyer close to the authority, Khaled Abu Bakr, publicly criticised the decision, saying, “I will always remain against granting Egyptian citizenship in return for money. It is enough for any investor that we grant him and his family permanent residency. Egyptians have one origin and race, and prejudice to this identity is a great matter.” He attacked Parliament for its silence: “How does Parliament allow the Prime Minister to control his decisions regarding the rules for granting Egyptian nationality?”

Economists believe that the decision will not have a significant impact, noting that foreigners’ lack of interest in buying the Egyptian nationality has nothing to do with its price and the conditions for obtaining it. Still, its main reason is that the Egyptian passport needs to be stronger and allow its holder to quickly enter important Western countries such as the United States, Britain or the European Union. Accordingly, Ashraf Abdel-Aal, an economist, believes that facilitating the financial conditions for obtaining Egyptian citizenship “may slightly increase the number of applicants from Arab countries that are experiencing wars and crises to get it, but the matter will not have a significant impact, and it will not lead to the flow of billions of dollars to the country as the government believes.” Abdel Aal believes that the government is “unrealistic in its perceptions,” explaining the failure of the initiative to “import cars by Egyptians abroad” in return for a 3-year dollar deposit, as the government expected to reap $2.5 billion from this initiative within three months. The reality was shocking, as it earned only $202 million, which forced it to extend the industry for two additional months with new incentives.