Manama: Egypt is considering granting citizenship to stateless people living in the Arabian Gulf countries in an effort to attract investments into the country.

Under the economic citizenship proposal, an investment fund would be set up and its capital would be collected from the financial contributions of stateless residents in the Gulf, Arabs and foreigners keen on acquiring Egyptian nationality.

The contributions would be linked to the time-frame for obtaining the citizenship, Kuwaiti daily Al Rai reported on Sunday, quoting an Egyptian government official it did not name.

The official said that the idea was the brainchild of Mohammad Sameh, the head of the Arab Union for Direct Investment, who had met two ministers and the adviser to the finance minister who reportedly welcomed the proposal and pledged “a serious debate” at the cabinet meeting.

Three investment programmes would be offered by the fund to attract Arab and foreign investors.

Under the first programme, the investor deposits $250,000 (Dh918,250) that is non-refundable, while in the second programme, the investor puts in $500,000 as a deposit that will be refunded in Egyptian pounds and without interest after five years.

Under the third option, the investor deposits $700,000 that can be recovered without interest after three years.

“The three categories targeted under the economic citizenship programme include the 3.2 million foreigners living in Egypt, most of whom are from Arab countries as well as foreign investors, specifically those who have companies that import their products to Egypt, and Africa and the stateless residents in the Arabian Gulf,” the daily said.

The official insisted that the idea was not based on selling Egyptian citizenship, but rather on broadening the scope of incentives offered to investors and attracting them to the North African country.

“The programme will attract foreign direct investments, but at the same time grant the full citizenship to investors so that they can benefit from fiscal advantages, compete in all national projects and get rid of risks related to the projects or to the residency permits,” he said.