Egypt to grant citizenship to 17 foreigners after depositing $380,000 each in national banks
The Egyptian government has agreed to grant citizenship to 17 foreigners after each had deposited 7,000,000 Egyptian pounds ($US 380,000) at the country's banks as per a law passed earlier in 2019, local news outlets reported Sunday.
The 17 include 15 Syrians, one British citizen and one Palestinian, reported the Egyptian Shorouk news outlet.
It was not immediately clear what economic benefits a foreigner would obtain by acquiring citizenship as Egypt places several restrictions on foreign investment projects, including a ban on foreign ownership of agricultural land and property in the Sinai Peninsula where it faces Islamist insurgency, Reuters reported.
The head of the Egyptian parliament's defence and national security committee Kamal Amer told Reuters that the new law had complimented recent amendments to an investment act granting incentives to foreigners to invest in the country.
He added that foreigners who acquired citizenship would enjoy no political rights until after five years of citizenship and would need 10 years to be eligible for election or appointment to a representative body.
Spouses and children will not be eligible for citizenship unless they reside in Egypt, he added.
Egypt has been looking to boost its finances and drawback foreign investment that fled the country after its 25 January uprising, notably through a series of tough reforms tied to a $US 12 billion IMF loan program it began in late 2016.
On 21 March, the Egyptian pound plunged around 17% in its value against the US dollar, following a rise in inflation amid growing economic hardships, at the time when the Central Bank of Egypt announced higher interest rates at the two major national banks.
Earlier last week, the central bank announced that the country’s net foreign reserves had declined for the first time in 22 months, from $US 3.91 billion to $US 37.082 billion by the end of March 2022, compared to $US 40.99 billion recorded in February 2022.
For his part, however, prominent economic expert Hassan Heikal ruled out a direct correlation between granting the foreigners the Egyptian nationality and the recent economic hardships Egypt had been undergoing during a brief interview with The New Arab.
"They will acquire the citizenship as per an already 3-year-old law after a background security check is conducted on each of them," Heikal said.
"Other means to get the nationality are through investing in the state's new mega-projects such as the New Administrative Capital and the New El-Alamin," he added.
"But, in a nutshell, I exclude the possibility that the decline in the reserves of hard currency in Egypt has anything to do with this."