(July 31, 2019) On June 10, 2019, the National Defense and Security Committee of the Egyptian Parliament approved a draft law amending the Citizenship Law—Law No. 26 of 1975. The new amendment aims at attracting foreign investors to reside in Egypt.
The bill will now be debated among members of Parliament and put to a preliminary vote. If approved, the bill will be sent to the State Council (the administrative court) for a review of its wording and then sent back to Parliament for a final vote. If Parliament passes the bill, it will be sent to the president for ratification and publication in the official gazette.
Provisions of the New Law
Under the new law, the Prime Minister has the power to grant Egyptian citizenship to any foreign national who buys a state-owned property or a private property to establish an investment project.
The cabinet will create a government body to review applications of foreign investors who are interested in acquiring Egyptian citizenship. This body is to be composed of representatives of a number of government bodies, including the ministries of foreign affairs, homeland security, investment, and international cooperation, as well as concerned security apparatuses.
The fees of the citizenship application will be US$10,000. After submitting an application, a foreign investor will receive an official reply within 90 days as to whether the application was accepted or rejected. The application can reportedly be filed online.
Reactions to the Draft Law
Members of Parliament who endorsed the draft law claimed that it would have a positive impact on the investment sector by enhancing direct foreign investment in the country, which in their view would lead to the growth of the whole economy. Similarly, the vice chairman of the Egyptian Business Association, Fathallah Fawzi, supported the draft law. On June 17, 2019, Fawzi issued a press release stating that the new amendment would help the real estate sector in Egypt and create a more attractive business climate for foreign investors.
On the other hand, members of Parliament who opposed the draft law, such as Talaat Khalil, claimed that they did not see any benefit from amending the Citizenship Law. Khalil argued that, because the current unified Investment Law provides a vast number of benefits to foreign investors, the incentive to acquire the Egyptian citizenship is unlikely to encourage those foreign investors to invest more in the country.