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Egypt amends Citizenship Act to allow for citizenship-by-investment

Earlier this month the Egyptian parliament approved amendments to the Egyptian Nationality Law that had been proposed by the National Defense and Security Committee of the House of Representatives to facilitate citizenship-by-investment. Daily Egypt News reports that while parliament had already allowed the granting of citizenship to foreigners depositing EGP 7m ($442,000) in foreign currency in a local bank in 2018, “the new law stipulates that the Prime Minister may grant Egyptian nationality to any foreigner who has purchased a property owned by the State or other public legal persons or by establishing an investment project in accordance with the provisions of the Investment Law No. 72 of 2017”.

While the citizenship-by-investment programme makes Egypt stand out in the region, its nationality law has other particular features. Zahra Albarazi has noted that Egypt is one of the countries where gender discriminatory nationality provisions, which are a key characteristic of many countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), are largely absent: ‘With regards to maternal ius sanguinis, where the mother transfers the nationality … Israeli, Algerian, Egyptian, Moroccan and Tunisian nationality laws are the only ones that clearly allow for the transmission of nationality from mother to child on the same terms as from father to child, with the North African countries having reformed in the past 20 years”.

As for citizenship acquisition by children born on the territory, she points at the peculiarity that “Egyptian law requires that the father originate from a country in which Arabic is the principal language and that Islam is the principal religion”. The adherence to Egyptian culture and religion being a precondition for citizenship is also reflected in the conditions for loss of citizenship: under Egyptian nationality law, the authorities can deprive a person of nationality if, at any time, he is assumed to be a Zionist.

The implementation of the Egyptian CBI programme and the clear path to citizenship for investors is likely to contrast starkly with the generally very discretionary nature of naturalisation decisions in Egypt and the MENA region more generally. This has led to communities that have been stateless for generations, such as the Armenians of Egypt, for having been unable to access the naturalisation procedures.

Author: Dr. Olivier Vonk

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