Feature: Lebanese opt for European residency to escape domestic crises

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, November 6, 2021
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by Dana Halawi

BEIRUT, Nov. 6 (Xinhua) -- Haitham Ismail, a Lebanese who owns a construction company, seeks to establish a real estate firm in Greece to escape Lebanon's unprecedented financial crisis which deprived businessmen and citizens of their deposits amid shortage of foreign reserves in the country.

Ismail managed to secure 250,000 euros in cash to purchase an apartment in Greece which gained him and his family a permanent residency in the European country.

"Upon the start of the financial crisis in Lebanon, I needed a way out where I could start a new business and secure a residency for my family in a safe and secure place," Ismail told Xinhua.

Through his investment, Ismail was able to give his children the opportunity to study in any European country without going through the hassle of applying for visas, which is a difficult and complicated process in Lebanon.

Similarly, many Lebanese, who were lucky enough to have saved dollars away from banks' heavy restrictions, resorted to the residency and citizenship programs through real estate investment offered by some countries including Greece, Cyprus and Portugal.

Mireille Korab, head of business development at a real estate firm, which has a special department tailored for assisting clients who seek global citizenship programs, told Xinhua that demand by Lebanese for such programs increased in 2020 and 2021 by around 50 percent compared to previous years.

"Some people bought houses outside Lebanon to diversify their investments in light of the financial crisis in Lebanon or to secure a safe place to escape in case the security situation deteriorates in their country," Korab explained.

Korab witnessed a great demand not only by Lebanese, but also by Libyans, Jordanians and Iraqis residing in Lebanon.

As for people who are looking to relocate to a nearby country, she explains, they usually go for Cyprus which offers a permanent residency for those who invest in real estate at the value of 300,000 euros.

She added that one of the most attractive programs for residency and citizenship is that of Portugal, which offers residency within a six-month period of purchasing a real estate at the value of 500,000 euros.

"The program also allows investors to apply for citizenship after six years while it only requires the applicant to visit the country for a few days per year," she said.

Peter Tsounis, CEO of a real estate company in Greece, told Xinhua that demand through his firm by Lebanese who seek residency in Greece has increased by over 50 percent.

Tsounis explained that Greece's permanent residency is one of the easiest to get because it requires an investment of only 250,000 euros allowing investors to get a golden visa for five years which can be renewed if the investors' records are clean.

"Also, investors can apply for the nationality after seven years of ownership but they should learn a bit of Greek language and have information about the Greek culture and history in a bid to pass a test for this purpose," he said. Enditem

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