The chairman of the Iranian Parliament’s National Security and Foreign Policy Commission hailed an agreement to ease visa restrictions between the Islamic Republic and Iraq as a major achievement of President Hassan Rouhani’s visit to the Arab country.

“The president’s visit to Iraq after the withdrawal of Daesh (ISIS or ISIL) from the country and the elimination of the terrorist group is important because it can develop investments and strategic relations between Tehran and Baghdad,” Heshmatollah Falahat Pishe told Tasnim.

He further emphasized that the visit is also important because Iraq can play a major role in countering the sanctions imposed by the US against Iran.

The senior lawmaker also referred to the easing of visa restrictions between Iran and Iraq as one of the most important achievements of Rouhani’s visit to Iraq, the senior lawmaker added.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume.

Iran’s main exports to the neighboring country include agro products, foodstuff and fruits such as watermelon, tomato and cucumber, which account for 37% of the total exports.

Other Iranian exports to Iraq include canned food, tomato paste, chicken, egg, meat, construction materials (mainly rebar, tiles and ceramics), steel and evaporative cooler.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iran and Iraq signed five deals to promote cooperation in various fields on the first day of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to Baghdad.

In a meeting co-chaired by Rouhani and Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad on Monday evening, top officials from the two countries signed five memoranda of understanding.

The documents entail cooperation between Iran and Iraq concerning the Basra-Shalamcheh railroad project, visa facilitation for investors, cooperation in the health sector, and agreements between the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran and Ministry of Trade of Iraq, and another one in the field of oil between the petroleum ministries of the two countries.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Iran and Iraq signed five deals to promote cooperation in various fields on the first day of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani’s trip to Baghdad.

In a meeting co-chaired by Rouhani and Prime Minister of Iraq Adil Abdul-Mahdi in Baghdad on Monday evening, top officials from the two countries signed five memoranda of understanding.

The documents entail cooperation between Iran and Iraq concerning the Basra-Shalamcheh railroad project, visa facilitation for investors, cooperation in the health sector, and agreements between the Ministry of Industry, Mines and Trade of Iran and Ministry of Trade of Iraq, and another one in the field of oil between the petroleum ministries of the two countries.

Heading a high-ranking delegation, Rouhani arrived in Baghdad on Monday at the official invitation of the Iraqi government. It is Rouhani’s first official visit to Iraq during his tenure.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

Head of Iran’s Cultural Heritage, Handicrafts and Tourism Organization (ICHTO) Ali Asghar Mounesan said removing visa restrictions on travels between Iran and Iraq could serve the interests of both nations.

Speaking at a meeting with Iraq’s Culture and Tourism Minister Abdul Amir al-Hamdani, Mounesan, also a vice-president, praised bilateral relations between Tehran and Baghdad as “brotherly and very cordial” and said the two countries enjoy good ties in all economic, social, and political areas.

“Each year, millions of Iranian and Iraqi tourists visit the two countries and there is a readiness to promote relations in the field of tourism,” he noted.

Referring to the abolition of the visa requirements for Iranians visiting Turkey and Oman, the official urged a similar move by Iraq and said an increase in the number of tourists from the two countries would be in the interests of both nations.

“We should make efforts to speed up this process by lifting visa requirements,” said the vice president.

Annually, millions of Muslim pilgrims, mainly from Iran, travel long routes to Iraq’s Karbala, where the holy shrine of Imam Hussein (AS), the third Shiite Imam, is located.

Iran and Iraq enjoy cordial political, security and cultural ties but due to some internal and regional problems including Daesh (also known as ISIS or ISIL) terrorism in Iraq, they have not been able to increase their trade volume in the past years.

Iran’s main exports to the neighboring country include agro products, foodstuff and fruits such as watermelon, tomato and cucumber, which account for 37% of the total exports.

(Source: Tasnim, under Creative Commons licence)

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Moldova: the most cost-effective passport from Europe

Citizenship by Investment has become one of the most reliable ways to obtain a legal citizenship and passport for many nationalities around the world. Allowing the ability to travel easily and secure a better future for individuals. However, when we talk about obtaining a fast-track second passport or citizenship and without immigration requirements, many come at a hefty price.

The Republic of Cyprus has one of the world’s most famous citizenship by investment programs and it is the only country that can offer a European nationality without ever needing to immigrate or prove residence in the country to obtain it. However, the property investment required to obtain the Cypriot citizenship stands at 2 million EURO which it is not affordable to large number of potential applicants. Many consider Caribbean countries like Dominica, St. Kitts & Nevis, St. Lucia, Antigua & Barbuda and Grenada through which they can achieve a second citizenship with a considerably lower investment amount.

For many investors in the region, some Caribbean countries can pose some difficulties to obtain their citizenship. In some cases, certain nationalities are banned from applying and they could encounter issues to transfer funds to the Government’s accounts due to intermediary banks based in the United States.

Moldova recently launched its citizenship program, the country is located in Europe and investors can obtain its passport without any residency requirements. The program is cost effective and has a quick processing time where applicants can obtain their citizenship in approximately 3 months. Moldovan citizens have visa-free travel to major countries around the world, most notably, Schengen countries, Russia and Turkey. The Moldovan citizenship program requires an applicant to transfer an amount of EUR 100,000 to Moldova’s Public Investment Fund. The amount goes up to EUR 155,000 for an applicant with more than 4 dependents. Another positive feature in Moldova’s CBI program is the ability to transfer citizenship to future generations without restrictions.

Moldova is a landlocked country in Eastern Europe with a 4 million population. The country is famous for its world-class wine industry and picturesque landscapes. The service sector has grown to dominate Moldova’s economy and currently composes over 60% of the nation’s GDP. In 2017, total bilateral trade between the EU and Moldova increased by 18% to €4 billion. The European Union’s imports from Moldova increased by 23% in 2017, to the value of €1.6 billion.

Although Moldova is not yet part of the European Union, the EU is Moldova’s first trading partner and the first investor in the country, accounting for over 55% of total trade. The value of agricultural, machinery and transport EU imported products from Moldova also grew confirming the positive trend of growth in Moldovan exports to the EU.

Moldova is actively pursuing joining the European Union member states through the EU Eastern Partnership policy. As part of its effort, Moldova is working on integrating various sectors such as transport, Energy, Technology, Media and Telecom with the EU for the possibility to deepen its corporation with the EU and increase the chances of becoming a member state.

By John Lee.

The Iraqi government has said it is introducing changes to simplify visa and residency procedures for visitors, international investors and entrepreneurs from a number countries.

It added that citizens of Lebanon will be able to obtain entry visas on arrival at Iraqi airports as part of a reciprocal agreement between the two countries.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Turkish Nationality: The Most Desired Citizenship Program among GCC Expats

Citizenship by Investment programs have been witnessing some major changes and one of them is the introduction of the new Turkish citizenship program which was published on the Official Gazette and entered into force in September 2018. The new law requires a minimum Real Estate investment of USD 250,000 and the citizenship could be obtained in approximately 6 months.

With over 4 million Arabs residing in Turkey, the country is certainly one of the most desirable destinations for Middle Eastern people. Historically Arabs feel at home in Turkey, love Istanbul and the demand for the newly launched citizenship program shows so. Turkey has the 17th largest economy in the world and its on its way to hit the 1 billion USD mark in GDP in 2020.

In 2018 Turkey has seen an increase in real estate sales by over 20%. This is largely due to the drop of the property prices after the imposed US sanctions that weakened the Turkish Lira. Buying a property in Turkey today is almost 50% cheaper than a year ago only due to the exchange rate.  With the amendment of the citizenship legislation, sales in Turkey are set to fly.

There are many advantageous aspects of becoming a Turkish citizen. Firstly, investors can obtain the citizenship without ever residing in Turkey and within a period of approximately 6 months from submission of the citizenship application.

There is a high number of expats from countries like Iraq, Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Egypt to name a few, who currently reside in the GCC, facing difficulties to obtain visas due to their current passports and looking for options. Turkey poses a good investment choice for them as it allows the option of owning property as well as a strong passport simultaneously and the possibility of moving to Turkey if they wish.

Turkey offers applicants the eligibility to become citizens through multiple ways such as a fix deposit of USD 500,000 for 3 years in a bank operating in Turkey; a fixed capital investment; or even generate employment in Turkey. However, the most interesting option is through investing in Turkey’s suppressed real estate market.

Investors are scrambling to find the property of their choice to qualify for the citizenship knowing that they can sell it after 3 years and keep the citizenship for life. An additional advantage is that the property can be passed to children without paying any form of inheritance tax.

A foreigner acquiring Turkish citizenship by investment has the same rights as any Turkish born in the country, therefore for those wanting to make Turkey their home this is a great advantage having the same level of equality, included the ability to pass the citizenship to future generations. The Turkish passport allows  visa free travel to 111 countries, including Japan, South Korea, Singapore and other major countries in Asia, Africa and South America.

Investors do not need to reside in Turkey at any point in time, which means they do not need to disrupt their lives and can just keep it as an option for the future. Spouse and all dependents under 18 years of age are eligible for the Turkish citizenship as well.

If the investor decides to live in Turkey, the country offers amazing quality of services and is considered to be one of the most low-cost places to live in. Basic costs like Electric and gas, council tax, rent, renovations, maintenance, food and drink, everyday groceries, transport and even petrol costs are just a fraction of what it costs in the EU and other developed countries.

Turkey’s infrastructure makes transport in Turkey convenient and reliable with easy access to a number of airports all year round, your journey home is normally within half an hour in most popular locations.

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By Veronica Cotdemiey, CEO of Citizenship Invest.

Recently Cyprus has been recognized as the ‘super star’ of the citizenship by investment programs worldwide. The country has the most appealing second citizenship program being the only European country which grants the nationality in only 6 months without ever having to reside there. Cyprus has officially and by far, the fastest form of legally obtaining a European citizenship and passport which enables living, working and studying in any of the 28 countries members of the European Union.

Moreover, Cypriot passport holders can travel to major destinations without applying for visas. It allows instant visa free travel to over 170 countries including the UK, UAE, European Union countries, Canada, Australia among other major countries and often allows a stay from 30 up to 90 days at a time depending on each country.

Most importantly, the citizenship can be inherited by family members and future generations. Children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and beyond also have the right to obtain the citizenship and passport through a very simple process which takes only two weeks.

Unlike many of the fast track citizenship programs which require a non-refundable financial contribution to a Government fund, Cyprus offers its investors the possibility of earning a good return while obtaining the citizenship. The Cypriot citizenship law requires a temporary investment of EUR 2 million in a Real Estate investment in Cyprus which is required to be held for 3 years and thereafter can be sold while maintaining a property worth 500,000 EUROS. It is certain that not everyone can afford it, but for those who can, this is potentially on of the best investment they would have made in their lifetimes, leaving their families a great legacy.

The program has become so popular among HNWI citizenship applicants from all over the world especially Asia, Middle East and Russia, that the Cypriot Government has recently announced a cap of only 700 applications per annum to maintain its high standards. According to Cypriot news agencies, the Government of Cyprus has released reports of issuing passports for over 3,300 families bringing into the economy approximately USD 4.5 Billion. This has helped turning the Cypriot economy around becoming one of the fastest growing GDP’s in Europe. At the moment, Cyprus GDP levels are considerably higher than those of the Eurozone and the European Union according to a report released by the international firm KPMG.

The Cypriot citizenship by investment program is one of the many incentives established by the Government to attract foreign direct investment to the country. The first amendments to the citizenship law were introduced back in 2013. Since its inception, the program has undergone various improvements to make it more accessible and attractive for investors. In September 2016, the Government of Cyprus introduced an amendment which reduced the minimum investment amount to EUR 2 million (from EUR 2.5 million) and the option to add the parents of the main applicant for an additional EUR 500,000 plus VAT investment in a property in Cyprus.

According to official statistics from the Department of Land and Surveys, in 2017 Cyprus has recorded a 24% increase in real estate sales contracts, 30% of which accounted to non-nationals. Not surprisingly 31% of the real estate transactions in 2017 were properties valued at around 2 million EUROS, which indicates that a high number of investors are purchasing real estate as a mean to obtain the Cypriot citizenship.

The contribution of real estate to Cyprus’ GVA amounted to EUR 2,4 Billion in 2017. Construction activities from 2013 onwards indicate to have broken through the slowdown of the financial crisis, which has been clearly left way behind, and entered into an expansion period which until 2019 is set stretch to pre-2013 levels where Cyprus recorded all-time highs in real estate transactions.

From a taxation point of view Cypriot passports holders actually benefit. Non-tax residents are not liable for income tax generated outside the country. More importantly Cyprus does not impose inheritance tax on property, which gives the ability to pass it down to future generations without incurring costs.

So how does all this benefit investors? Cyprus has become one the of the most attractive real estate investments in Europe. This injection of billions of Euros in luxury real estate and infrastructure is turning the Cypriot landscape around. Limassol will soon have ‘One’ the tallest residential tower in Europe, Ayia Napa is undergoing the non-stop 24/7 construction of the most luxurious marina in the region with high end international restaurants and villas worth EUR 5 million with their own private berths. The whole country is having a radical facelift with modern contemporary architecture of glass and refined design are taking over. In the next 3 years, when allowed to re-sale, investors will be able to appreciate the growth of their investments as part of this radical transformation.

One can understand the excitement of savvy businessmen when considering buying property in Cyprus, after all they know that they are purchasing luxury real estate in a newly booming property market.

It is clear that Cyprus has not only become the ‘super star’ of citizenship programs but also earned a prime position amongst the most profitable real estate investments worldwide. Demand translates into growth which then translates into high profits. Whether applying for citizenship or not, Cyprus seems to be the place to invest in.

The Iraqi Cabinet held its weekly regular meeting in Baghdad on Tuesday under the chairmanship of Prime Minister Haider Al-Abadi.

It approved funding to support the implementation of measures to improve public services, with a focus on electricity supply, water, health and education.

It also discussed a range of policies to encourage foreign investment, and agreed measures to streamline and simplify procedures for individual investors and companies applying for entry visas and residency permits.

(Source: Govt of Iraq)