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Too Many “Pop-Up Companies” a Cause for Concern: 10 on the Weekend – Bashar Daoud

Ten On The Weekend is a semi-weekly feature in IMI, the concept of which is simple: Each time, we ask the same ten questions of a different industry figure, letting readers get to know the interviewee on a more personal and informal level than they might in an ordinary business setting.

Our guest this weekend is Bashar Daoud of Bluemina.


How do you spend your weekends?

Weekends are all about the family for me. Along with my three children and wife, we head down to our family farmhouse by the Dead Sea to enjoy the sun and good weather. I’ll spend the day outside with my children in the open air. They’ve recently learned to ride their bikes, so we’re pretty big on bike rides around the block. 

In the evenings, we have a fun routine. I’ll often barbecue and we’ll put together puzzles or guess riddles with the kids. I’ll admit, they’re getting really good at them, maybe too good! It’s more fun than online school I’ll say that much, and they’d probably agree! 

What are your top three business goals this year?

So many changes happened in the past year and Covid-19 has taught us a lot of lessons. At work, we’ve flourished; we invested in the career growth of our present employees across our 10 branches. We’ve even grown our network while adding two new offices in Sulaymaniyah, Iraq and another in Sheikh Zayed City, Egypt. Although 2020 was a difficult year for many companies in the world, it was a flourishing year for Bluemina, and we’re grateful to have built such a strong and close-knit culture to achieve that. Our employees were so cooperative working remotely and adapting to new techniques at work. We take lots of pride in the fact that not a single employee lost their job and no salary cuts were imposed. 

In 2021, we want to continue riding that growth wave, expand our network of global offices, and continue to nourish and enrich internally. This coming year, we are keen to continue catering to our clients, offering the ultimate highest standards of service as we’ve always done since 1997. Our clients are now seeking further after-sales services from Bluemina, private or family wealth management, offshore banking setup assistance, and other general financial consulting services. It could very well be time to set up a sister company to assist our clients further. 

What’s your biggest business concern right now?

This year we’ve seen the Cypriot Citizenship by Investment program come to a complete halt. It’s a program that our clients are invested in, and where they have been enjoying benefits for many years now. Without a doubt, CBI programs, and especially the Cypriot CBI program, brought great economic impacts and benefits to the country. Well-governed and duly executed CBI and RBI programs are beautiful, for both country and investors. So seeing the program come to a sudden stop is concerning especially with the increasingly growing demand of CBI and RBI solutions amongst investors in the MENA region. We need to be offering them more, not less. 

Another concern of mine has come up in recent years; the industry’s been faced with a huge challenge of distinguishing between true-to-the-core CBI and RBI companies and companies that I call “pop-up” companies. There are probably only a number of companies that I can name on one hand that were the true pioneers of the industry. Immigration is, after all, one of the oldest “trades”.

When my father first established Bluemina in 1997, our headquarters office, which he opened in Amman, Jordan, catered to all the Middle Eastern investors seeking to migrate or obtain a second citizenship. I remember my father walking a client through the entire process day by day through programs lasting years to complete and obtain a successful application on behalf of the client. These clients are part of our lives to this day, the kind of clients you call every once in a while even a decade later just to check in on their wellbeing. That is true promise and service, which we so proudly strive to achieve for our clients, even now.

I am concerned with the recent trend of newly established companies with little to no experience operating and not delivering as promised to clients. I call them “pop-up” companies because they appear for such a short period of time and then completely disappear. This tarnishes the industry’s reputation and overshadows the great benefits of CBI and RBI programs. 

Which book is on your night-stand right now?

I really believe reading is the strongest form of meditation for me in these chaotic times. At this moment, I am enjoying Tim Ferriss’ Tools of Titans, an interesting read 

How and when did you first get into the investment migration industry?

I joined Bluemina in 2006. The Bluemina it back then did not look anything like it does today! Just before joining, I had a really great career in banking in Montreal, Canada. Canada had been home since I was a young child. My family migrated there in the early ’90s and coming back to the Middle East was never in my plans. On a visit to Jordan one summer, I saw so much potential in our family business, I started learning about the different CBI and RBI programs, and it was all new and yet so familiar to me. I’ve always said that CBI and RBI run in my blood; it’ll always be my drive and passion. Today, we are four proud partners: The founder, Mr. Wasim Daoud, Lina Daoud, Nadine Daoud, and I. We have over 75 staff across 10 global offices. 

What was your proudest moment as a service provider?

The proudest moments as a service provider have always been, is, and will forever remain the satisfaction of seeing our clients joyful to receive their citizenship and passports or their residence documents. 

Which investment migration market development has surprised you the most in the last year? 

The sudden closure of the Cypriot Citizenship Program. We should all strive to give more options, not fewer, to our deserving clients  

If you could go back 10 years in time, what business decision would you change?

Absolutely nothing.

What investment migration industry personality do you most admire?

My answer may be a bit biased but definitely Mr. Wasim Daoud. He has been in this industry for over 30 years. He remains, however, vibrant and forward-looking in all decisions he takes for our firm. 

10 If all goes according to plan, what will you be doing five years from now?

I am really putting all of my efforts into concentrating on the now! I believe our industry is so fast-evolving and changes at a much more rapid pace than other industries. One must be careful not to plan too far ahead. One thing is for sure though; I see our firm vastly growing in all aspects of its operations.  

More From 10 on The Weekend

Post Grid lazy load

Bashar Daoud: “I call them ‘pop-up’ companies because they appear for such a short period of time and then completely disappear.”

Americans used to ask Sara Sousa Rebolo if Portugal’s buildings had elevators and air conditioning. Now, they line up to get Portuguese residency.

Mimoun Assraoui and his colleagues aim to become the global IM industry leaders, a feat he believes they can achieve “in very short order”.

 

The post Too Many “Pop-Up Companies” a Cause for Concern: 10 on the Weekend – Bashar Daoud appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.

“More Than 1,000 Nigerians Have Inquired About CBI”: Investment Migration People in the News This Week

Investment migration people in the news this week include:

  • Arthur Sarkisian, Armand Tannous, and Konstantin Kaminskiy of Astons
  • Nuri Katz of Apex Capital Partners
  • Juerg Steffen and Paddy Blewer of Henley & Partners
  • Arton Capital
  • Micha-Rose Emmett of CS Global Partners
  • Mohammed Asaria of Range Developments
  • Nestor Alfred of the Saint Lucia CIU
  • Evans Ahanaonu of High Net Worth Immigration
  • Veronica Cotdemiey of Citizenship Invest
  • Rasha Seikaly of Bluemina
  • Daniel Ryan of Atlantic American Partners
  • David Lesperance of Lesperance & Associates

Business Insider: The top 10 Golden Visas the ultrawealthy are scrambling to get ahead of the holidays

Countries such as Austria and Montenegro are still popular for those looking for Golden Visas, according to Astons, an investment immigration and relocation provider. They’re expensive: The minimum to secure a “citizenship by investment” in Austria can cost over£2 million ($3 million). Montenegro is relatively affordable, with a minimum investment that costs just over £300,00 ($400,000.).

[…]

Apex Capital Partners founder Nuri Katz told Business Insider that the newly weakened passport has led many ultrawealthy to question its longevity, with some asking: “A year from now, will the American passport be enough to get me to where I want to go?”

[…]

In August, The New York Times deemed having a second passport as the new “status symbol.” Business Insider’s Graham Rapier reported that London-based passport broker Henley & Partners saw a 42% increase in overall citizenship applications this year, while Katz estimated to CNN that about  5,000 used investment programs in 2017 to acquire citizenship. This year, he estimates about 25,000. 


Business Daily: Rich Kenyans race to buy Caribbean citizenship

“Kenya has seen tremendous growth in enquiries of 116 percent between mid-November 2019 and the same period in 2020, while India saw growth of 61 percent, off an already high base in the same period, and Nigeria saw 30 percent growth, also off an impressive starting point,” said Juerg Steffen, the Henley & Partners CEO.

[…]

Micha Emmett, the CS Global Partners chief executive officer, said that the Caribbean offers a luxurious lifestyle combined with accessibility which appeals to many Kenyan entrepreneurs and those wanting a better life for their families.

“What perhaps used to be seen as an unconventional avenue to obtain a second passport is now highly sought after,” Ms Emmett said in a statement.


JamesEdition: Second passport as the newest trophy – the 5 destinations for 2021

Armand Tannous of Astons contributes a piece on citizenship by investment in luxury goods marketplace JamesEdition.

Bloomberg recently called a second passport “the newest asset of a mega-rich U.S. citizen”, along with a Gulfstream jet or a Manhattan penthouse.

Given the global crisis and entry restrictions imposed by many countries, US citizens have found themselves in a peculiar position – probably, for the first time in history. Holding one of the world’s most powerful passports but not being allowed to travel freely, affluent individuals are looking to maintain their quality of life and obtain a second passport or residence permit that would provide greater flexibility.


Al Jazeera: The wealthy Nigerians buying citizenship overseas

The rush for golden visas among rich Nigerians started before October’s SARS protests. At London-based Henley & Partners, one of the world’s largest citizenship advisory firms, applications by Nigerians increased by 185 percent during the eight months to September 2020, making them the second-largest nationality to apply for such schemes after Indians.

More than 1,000 Nigerians have enquired about the citizenship of another country through Henley & Partners this year alone, which Paddy Blewer, head of marketing, says “is unheard of. We’ve never had this many people contacting us”.

[…]

The Six Senses La Sagesse is being constructed by Range Developments, whose founder and managing director, Mohammed Asaria, says it is not unusual for investors never to visit. In fact, since there is no obligation for citizenship investors to visit Grenada, interest in the scheme has ballooned among Nigerians.

“We have between high single figures and low double-digit sales of hotel units on a monthly basis to Nigerians. The average investment is just under $300,000,” says Asaria. “It’s a big market for us. And it’s going to get bigger. There are 300 million people [in Nigeria].” Of these, more than 40,000 are millionaires and, therefore, potential customers for golden visas, according to the Knight Frank Wealth Report.

It is a similar story across the Caribbean. Arton Capital, a citizenship advisory group, says demand from Nigerian families for Antigua and Barbuda citizenship is up 15 percent this year compared with the last.

St Lucia has also seen a record number of Nigerians applying in 2020. “It’s more than it’s ever been over the past four years,” says Nestor Alfred, CEO of the St Lucia Citizenship-by-Investment Unit.

[…]

“Businesses are struggling, inflation on the rise, insecurity, and a host of other issues. These issues have prompted an increase in citizenship or residency-by-investment from wealthy Nigerians in a bid to secure a better future for their families in developed countries,” says Evans Ahanaonu, a Lagos-based representative for High Net Worth Immigration, a citizenship advisory firm. Grenada and Turkey are popular for clients wanting quick access to Europe, he adds, while some go straight for the UK Innovator Visa which means setting up a business in the UK.


WealthManagement.com: Twenty-Five Passports HNW Clients Are Hoping to Find Under the Tree

“2020 has been an incredibly busy year for the residency and citizenship by investment sector and we’ve seen some significant uplifts in demand across a number of programs for a variety of reasons,” said Arthur Sarkisian, managing director of Astons. “Affordability and speed have always been a driving factor. However, with the pandemic bringing both economic uncertainty and restrictions around travel, we’ve seen investors opt for more remote and idyllic destinations such as the Caribbean and Vanuatu where they might not have otherwise.”


Zawya: COVID-19 impact: Many UAE expats are buying a second passport; applications rise by 30%

“When the pandemic started, those with strong passports had the option to move their families to a stable country with reliable healthcare and feel safe under governments that make sensible decisions. For those who hold less desired passports, this pandemic has accelerated the urgency to obtain a second nationality, a passport that allows them to travel outside their countries when they need to do so, without having to plan ahead and worry about visa complications,” said Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

[…]

“In the first quarter of the year 2020, when the pandemic started, people were uncertain and there was a sense of unease through all aspects of life. Decisions were put on hold, things were unclear. However, a few months down the line, expats from the GCC and citizens from the MENA region started considering dual passports by seeking countries with secure social services, healthcare and quality education,” Rasha Seikaly, Bluemina’s marketing director.


Business Daily: Why Kenyans are rushing for expensive investment visas

“The number of inquiries we have had from Kenya have tripled compared to 2011 when the option of dual citizenship came into play,” says Micha-Rose Emmett, chief executive officer of CS Global Partners, a marketing and legal advisory agency specialising in foreign direct investment (FDI).

[…]

In his last visit to the country in July last year, Atlantic American managing director Daniel Ryan told the Business Daily that they had signed up more than 20 high-net worth Kenyans to the programme in just seven months, while 20 others were in the process of filling in paperwork and getting vetted for suitability to the programme.

“It takes about six months for people to get ready to invest, given that most of them do not have the $500,000 instantly at hand,” Mr Ryan told the Business Daily.


Business Insider: Ultrawealthy Americans want to diversify their passports. Agencies trying keep up with demand

The US is facing potentially record-breaking expatriation numbers, along with an even larger number of citizens looking to acquire second citizenship.

Global tax and immigration lawyers are already contending with increased demand. Apex Capital, which specializes in citizenship by investment (CIP) programs, said it has seen interest increase more than 600% since the election, compared to 2019.

And agencies that cater to Golden Visas — where people can acquire citizenship or residency by investing a certain amount into that country — are also feeling the crunch.

“North America just blew up in terms of demand,” Konstantin Kaminskiy, an associate director at Astons, an investment immigration and relocation provider, told Business Insider. “We used to have maybe a couple of dozen Americans investors applying for European residencies or UK residencies per year. Now we have 20 to 30 inquiries per day.”

[…]

International tax and immigration advisor and lawyer David Lesperance previously told Business Insider that he’d heard similar reasoning from clients with marginalized racial, religious, and sexual identities. The ultrawealthy who are considering fleeing are worried about the implications of social and civic unrest.

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The post “More Than 1,000 Nigerians Have Inquired About CBI”: Investment Migration People in the News This Week appeared first on Investment Migration Insider.