Jad, a Lebanese who works as an executive director in Dubai, lost hope that he could return to his country due to the economic collapse and got tired of waiting for a long time to get visas for his business trips, so paid $ 135,000 for it. buy a foreign passport and after a month, he got a parcel. It features two passports for him and his wife issued from the Caribbean island of Saint Kitts and Nevis, and Jad and his wife can travel to more than 150 countries. including Europe, without the need for entry visas. According to AFP.
The new document is a qualitative step in Gad’s life, as the Henley Passport Index ranked the Lebanese passport among the worst in the world in terms of ease of obtaining visas. Also, today it has become almost impossible to renew the passport due to the exhaustion of stocks and lack of funding, in a country that is experiencing a severe economic crisis since the fall of 2019.
“Three years ago, I could not have imagined that I could buy a passport. But now, because of the situation in Lebanon and because we can afford it, we have finally done it,” says Jad. who asked you not to use his last name to maintain his privacy.
Saint Kitts and Nevis, with a population of just 55,000, launched its passport-selling program just one year after gaining independence in 1983. Its passport ranks 25th in the world, according to the Henley Index, which ranks nuts by the access they provide. to the holder.
Nationality acquisition programs attract wealthy people from countries experiencing economic crises or sanctions, such as Iraq, Yemen, Syria, and finally Lebanon. Today, many wealthy Lebanese, most of whom work or invest in Gulf or African countries , are rushing to buy passports or They have lost hope that Lebanon will emerge at any time near the stormy economic collapse.
The collapse triggered a massive wave of migration. For several months, the queues that began to form at dawn in front of the General Security stations, which last month announced that they had stopped issuing passports, did not disappear as the stock was about to expire.
is the solution
And the demands to buy passports are growing, especially in the Caribbean, because those who want to get them can get them within a few months for a lot of money without having to visit their new country, and Gad says that when he traveled to Paris for the first time with his new document, “the staff at the airport looked at my passport and told me I was coming from a beautiful place,” he added, “but I have never been there.” Not only serious, but also his friends are buying “island passports” and some of them are looking at the possibility of investing in European countries like Greece and Portugal in exchange for getting permanent residence, and Jad says: “What is happening “It’s not just a general trend, it’s the solution.”
As long as Lebanese in the Gulf countries in particular, numbering approximately 350,000, including 100,000 in the Emirates, are stuck between diplomatic and political tensions that add to their fear of losing a way of life to which they are accustomed. year, Saudi Arabia-led Gulf states summoned their ambassadors from Lebanon more than five months ago, amid statements by a minister criticizing Riyadh-led military intervention in Yemen, Kuwait decided at the time to “become tough” in issuing visas to Lebanese, which raised immigrants’ fears that other countries would use the same step.
“It all made me think there was a problem and I did not want to risk my job in the Gulf,” said Marielle Bou Harb, a 35-year-old Lebanese businessman in Dubai.
Last year Marielli bought four passports from Saint Kitts for him, his wife and their two children, after being tempted by an offer to deduct $ 50,000 from the cost due to the spread of the Covid-19 epidemic on the island, which depends largely on tourist services.
A passport usually costs $ 150,000, which is donated to the Sustainable Growth Fund in a country that installed the first traffic lights in its capital in 2018. Other Caribbean islands like Grenada, Antigua, Barbuda and Dominica also sell their passports .
They buy their freedom
As for Lebanon, where more than eighty percent of the population is below the poverty line, only a few can buy foreign passports, and over the past two years, the work of companies specializing in providing passport consulting has flourished. and their advertisements were added, either through billboards, whether inside the airport, or by telephone messages.
In 2020, Ziad Karkaji turned his real estate company into Global Pass, a passport consulting firm. “Our business flourished by no less than forty percent between 2020 and 2021,” he says, and as a result of the economic collapse and subsequent explosion of the Port of Beirut in 2020, the number of Lebanese clients of the Swiss consulting company Heritage which employs Jose Charo has increased fivefold, and Lebanese now make up a quarter of the company’s clients. Sharoo, whose branch is headquartered in Beirut, and if the client wants a solution that will allow him to easily secure a visa investor in the United States, according to Shareau, it is best to obtain Grenada citizenship.
As for those who want to retire or move abroad, Charo advises investing about a quarter of a million dollars in exchange for permanent residence in Greece or Portugal. “This sector will continue to flourish, fortunately bad for the country, but fortunately for us. he says, adding that Lebanese “are buying their freedom.”