A New Draft Law to Grant Foreign Investors the Egyptian Nationality

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The Egyptian government announced a new amendment to the law that regulates the residency permits in Egypt for foreigners. The law stipulates granting the Egyptian nationality for foreign investors in return for payments paid in hard currency, according to Arabi 21.

The amendment includes another kind of foreigners who will be allowed a residency permit in the country if they have bank deposits, in addition to the foreigners who have special residency and temporary residency.

The bill reads that the Minister of Interior would grant the Egyptian nationality with a decree if the foreigner had a bank deposit and stayed in Egypt at least for five years respectively before he could submit a nationality request. It adds that if the nationality request was accepted, the bank deposit would be transferred to the state’s public treasury.

The explanatory document to the draft law explains that the law is mainly derived from the country’s policy to encourage the Arab and foreign investment in the economic projects. It also aims to facilitate the investment conditions for the foreigners who are attached to Egypt by creating an environment built on stability and confidence; so that the investors will be reassured on their money, projects, and their family stability.

The memorandum prepared by Magdy el-Agaty the minister of Legal and parliamentary affairs that he sees that granting them residency permits in return for a bank deposit in an Egyptian bank during their residency duration in Egypt is an appreciation for their roles in flourishing the investment in Egypt and its economy in a period not less than 5 years. Due to their sincerity and loyalty to the Egyptian state-as written in the memorandum, it has been perceived to grant them the Egyptian nationality if they enjoy sanity, good reputation and a good overview of the Arabic language.

However, the new draft law has caused a wide debate among the parliamentary members. Some MPs have seen that it will encourage foreign investment and provide a good source for hard currencies to Egypt.

On the other side, others consider that the draft law sells the Egyptian nationality for dollars.

In this context, the MP Hala Abu Saeda said that “The amendment of the nationality law is a new step towards increasing the foreign investments and it is adopted by many countries in the world especially the Arab countries.

She also denied in a press statement that the new law would allow the Israelis the Egyptian nationality and she ensured that there are harsh conditions and several security approvals for granting the Egyptian nationality. On the other hand, MP Ahmed Farghal announced his opposition to granting foreigners the Egyptian nationality in return for money. He also added that the foreign investors would only have a residency permit with special privileges. He added that granting the Egyptian nationality to foreigners regulated by the draft law-will cause many security problems, pointing that security is above encouraging investment.

Accordingly, Ibrahim al-Ghetany, the researcher at the regional center for the strategic studies, said that granting the Egyptian nationality to the foreign investors in return for bank deposits isn’t a new idea as many countries around the world adopt these policies to attract assets. However, al-Ghetany wanders that in the Egyptian case what will be the privileges from acquiring the Egyptian nationality? Are there any facilities to move easily between the Arab countries? He also ensured that the investors approaching won’t meet the officials’ expectations and the returns of that law will be very weak.

In the same context, MP Mo’taz al-Saeed said that the idea isn’t attractive for investors in the time being due to the current country’s conditions. He also pointed that presenting real facilitation to the investors for their investments in Egypt is better even if they didn’t acquire the country’s nationality.

Khaled Abu-Bakr, a TV presenter, said on twitter, “Granting the Egyptian nationality in return for a financial return doesn’t suit our society, even it was adopted in other countries. It is enough to give them only a residency permit.” He also called the members of the parliament to reject that law.

In the same context, Mamdouh Hamza -the political activist- mocked the government policies, writing on Twitter, “Egypt is selling its own furniture,  mortgaging the home and soon it will let ‘her’ daughter marry an old-aged Arab Gulf husband.”