RCBI-Market in MENA and India: Why What Worked in China Won’t Help You Here


King Tai of Beacon Events

King Tai, Commercial Director of Beacon, shares his thoughts on how the MENA and India RCBI-markets compare to those of other regions and discusses which idiosyncratic challenges these regions present to investment migration professionals.

What distinguishes the investment migration markets of India and MENA from those of regions like China, or Russia?

Perhaps even more so than in other markets, clients from both India and the Middle East take an exceedingly cautious approach when considering an investment migration solution, bringing very detailed questions to the attorney and project developer, and often prefer to conduct their own due diligence on the program and/ or investment opportunity.

MENA and India-based clients also generally rely less on an immigration agent or intermediary and prefer a more hands-on approach and to be more involved in the process.

As most clients from India or the UAE are comfortable communicating in English, they can read the legal documents and speak with the attorney or developer directly. As a result of this, the time it takes to secure an Indian or Middle Eastern client’s commitment is longer compared to markets like China. 

But there are also notable distinctions between the Indian and MENA markets themselves; In India, most of the clients from are Indian nationals, whereas in UAE, for example, the client pool is far more diversified, and advisors must be prepared to offer service to clients from a wide array of backgrounds and nationalities, notably Iranians, Lebanese, Syrians, Bahraini, Jordanians, and even non-MENA clients such as Pakistanis, and Russians.   

India has almost as big a population as China, yet its investment migration market has always been much smaller. Is this simply because of a lower GDP per capita and does that mean that the Indian market will, one day soon, challenge China as the biggest market?

In my opinion, there are a few key reasons for this;

First, much of the industry, in recent years, has focused its marketing efforts towards the Chinese market and, as a result, the outflux of HNWIs from China has grown tremendously.

Second, Chinese clients – in most cases – tend to come to a decision relatively soon allowing for a much shorter business development time-frame than elsewhere. 

As mentioned earlier, the time it takes to secure an Indian or Middle Eastern client’s commitment is longer. While these factors will naturally delay the overall growth of the Indian RCBI-market, India unquestionably has the potential to catch up with China, although that’s unlikely in the near term.

How do the preferences – in terms of programs – among Indian and MENA-based clients compare to those of other markets? 

For Indians, the United States has long been a favorite, whether we’re talking about the EB5, H1B, L1 and other visa categories.

Canada and the UK are also among top destinations for Indians, but it’s interesting to see that less conventional programs like those of Portugal, Cyprus, Greece, Malta, and other European Golden Visas have gained a great deal of traction and interest in the last few years.

As for citizenship programs, like the Caribbean CIPs of Saint Lucia, Dominica, Saint Kitts & Nevis, Grenada, and Antigua & Barbuda, there’s a certain limit on demand – just like there is for Chinese customers – because of the Indian government’s declining to acknowledge dual citizenship. This isn’t to say that the dual citizenship restriction stops Indians from investing in other citizenships – just like it doesn’t for the Chinese – merely that such a policy exists to put an artificial downward pressure on demand.

The story’s different in the MENA region, where both Caribbean and European programs have been immensely popular. While the volume of MENA-investors represented in US-based programs is far below that of their Indian counterparts, there’s a growing interest in both the EB-5 and E2 programs among the non-Emirati expats living and working in the UAE.

The Middle East, and particularly Dubai, has become a hub for the investment migration industry, and the many RCBI-advisories based in this – by now mature – market have a great deal of experience with Indian expat clients. How well positioned are Dubai-based firms to enter the Indian market?  

You’re absolutely right on this point Christian, and to add to your point, a number of migration firms in Dubai are owned and operated by Indian nationals and, thus, if they were to enter the Indian market, they would not only be coming in with a track record of industry experience but also their direct ties to India via family, friends, and business associates, providing them with a massive competitive advantage in this respect.

Unlike the Chinese, Taiwanese, or South Korean markets, a formal migration agent eco-system does not exist for the Indian and Middle East markets; clients from these regions come from a variety of sources, making the task of sourcing investors far more challenging for RCBI-advisories than in the client-conveyer-belt markets of China. What are some of the ways investment migration firms can overcome this?

As a solution to this ongoing challenge, I would suggest two key steps. The first would be to identify the local channels that can bring you the potential client. For India, I would say it’s the overseas education consultants, chartered accountants, attorneys, wealth managers, and ‘finders’.

For MENA, it would be the migration consultants, wealth managers, attorneys, family offices, and education consultants. 

The second step is to find a reliable and trusted partner who is not only actively engaged with and knowledgeable about these local channels and companies, but also has the ability to quickly connect you with these companies and or individuals.

Beacon’s Investment Immigration Summit industry platform provides RCBI practitioners access to pre-screened and qualified immigration intermediaries from India and the Middle East, in addition to the latest intelligence and insights to these markets. 

On February 20 – 22, 2019 and on February 24 – 26, 2019, Beacon will be in Mumbai and Dubai respectively to host its India and Middle East edition of the Investment Immigration Summit.

For any industry professionals interested in establishing and/or further developing these RCBI markets, I highly recommend for you join us here.

To find out more about our upcoming Mumbai and Dubai shows, please contact me and my team at: iis.team@beaconevents.com or at M: +852 2219 0111.

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Christian Henrik Nesheim AdministratorKeymaster

Christian Henrik Nesheim is the founder and editor of Investment Migration Insider, the #1 magazine – online or offline – for residency and citizenship by investment. He is an internationally recognized expert, speaker, documentary producer, and writer on the subject of investment migration, whose work is cited in the Economist, Bloomberg, Fortune, Forbes, Newsweek, and Business Insider. Norwegian by birth, Christian has spent the last 14 years in the United States, China, and Spain. 

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