Fri | Dec 9, 2016

UAE company offers Antigua passports with property purchase

Published:Sunday | April 5, 2015 | 11:38 AM

ABU DHABI, CMC - Property developers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are offering potential new home owners passports for Antigua and Barbuda, opening up fresh avenues for visa-free travel to a wide array of countries for Emirati citizens, according to reports here.

Al Jazeera, the television conglomerate, with offices in the Middle East and the United States, has reported that Sweet Homes – a company based in the emirate of Ajman – has “incentivised its property portfolio by including Antiguan and Barbadian passports with certain luxury home purchases.”

Al Jazeera said “A two bedroom villa costing 1.4mn dirhams (US$380,000) and a four-bedroom home priced at 1.9mn dirhams (US$517,000) come with passports for the purchaser, his or her partner, dependent children and parents over the age of 65.”

“The incentive of having an Antiguan and Barbadian passport for Emiratis is that it allows visa-free or visa-on-arrival travel to 132 countries, compared with 77 countries for a UAE passport,” the report added.

MEE said the offer applies to 600 of 1,500 units in the Ajman Uptown development, which Sweet Homes hopes will be completed in time for 2020.

“Ajman Uptown is the first project of its kind in the GCC region that allows the buyers to be eligible for citizenship, subject to due diligence and approval from [the] government of Antigua and Barbuda,” Sweet Homes chief executive Fahad Dero told Al Jazeera.

Dero said in the first 10 days of the offer he had found more than 1,000 “strong leads” and received 20 applications to take up the property and citizenship deal.

MEE said the Government of Antigua and Barbuda launched a “Citizenship-by-Investment” programme in 2013 “in an attempt to boost an economy that received 63 per cent of its US$1.2bn gross domestic product from the tourism industry in 2013”.

MEE explained further: “The initiative offers anyone the opportunity of becoming a citizen for a donation of US$200,000 to the country’s National Development Fund (NDF).”

Sweet Homes includes the US$200,000 donation in the hefty price-tag for its two and four bedroom villas, effectively cutting revenues in half with each property sale, according to MEE.

Antigua and Barbuda’s Prime Minister Gaston Browne told Al Jazeera the Emirati company keeps 10 per cent of the donation in exchange for recommending “wealthy citizens of the highest standard of integrity.”