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Through an interpreter, the Bidoon gave a full account of their situation: But what is also clear just from looking around Moroni is that the massive infrastructure projects never saw the light of day.

The actual number of citizenships sold has not been revealed. But for the Arabs, it was possible. Some roads waweet built; members of the diplomatic community say that some of the money went to help the government pay arrears on salaries.

It also seems like the bet Kiwan had made on the Gulf states providing documentation for their stateless went beyond economic citizenship and papers for a few thousand Bidoon duvai in the Emirates. Show 25 25 50 All. Sambi might have had God on his side, but what he really needed was someone to read him the fine print. The very existence of this business marks an enormous departure from traditional ideas about nationality, udbai, and belonging.

In the Emirates, the Bidoon were told that taking Comorian citizenship was the first step to becoming Emirati. With his glowing bronze complexion and a beatific calm, he carried himself — and, observers in Comorian political circles say, considered himself — more duabi a prophet than a politician.

The projects were a hard sell. Topics Comoros The long read. How they did so mattered very little in his eyes.

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Conveniently, the trip was scheduled to take place ahead of the next session of parliament. Like ships flying flags of convenience, these days people can carry nationalities of convenience.

Kiwan was all but driven out of the Comoros; his last trip there was in early After Kiwan picked the Comorians up at the airport, the men were shuttled away in limousines to a high-end Kuwait City hotel to rest up.


The discussion grew so heated that the president of the parliament stormed out in frustration. After securing a telecom licence, Comoro Gulf Holding had been expected to build a small port as collateral.

Most people have not heard of it; many of those who have do not quite believe that it is a sovereign nation at all.

There was a great demand for passports in the Middle East, the men explained; for starters, wealthy individuals saw a second or third nationality as a shortcut to make travelling and doing business abroad easier.

Before Kiwan arrived wzseet the scene, there was already a market for second citizenship — but it was targeted at the super-rich.

In a conference room, the delegates were introduced to several stateless men and women from Kuwait. The couple had one son, Jad. On a given day, a dozen cars with CGH logos may be spotted around Moroni.

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Sambi won the election, and almost overnight, Kiwan became a fixture in the presidential palace. The presence of the Bidoon would help native Comorians, who would benefit from increased investment in their country. What if the Comoros started to sell their citizenship to raise funds? InCGH lost its lease on the Itsandra hotel and concessions outside Moroni for tourism developments. One former manager who spoke on condition of anonymity suggests that the sum was less and that most of the money came from Kiwan, not from outside investors.

Although the proposed citizenship deal was with the United Arab Emirates, Kiwan invited the Comorians to Kuwait, a neighbouring country where he lived. Perhaps the biggest triumph of the modern nation state has been to convince large groups of people that a status conferred to them arbitrarily upon birth was, in fact, not for sale, and indeed, worth defending unto death.

One way they could show their commitment to interstate cooperation, he told them, was to give their would-be benefactors something only a Gulf monarchy could possibly demand, and that only a small, remote state like the Comoros could provide.


And that was unimaginable, to us. All the Comorians would have to do was pass a law allowing for this type of transaction, and print some passports. Kiwan would not respond to questions or requests for comment after our initial meeting in November As a result of their lobbying, CGH had come to be seen by more sceptical Comorians as neo-colonialists. But for the scheme to run smoothly, he had to convince the most reluctant Comorian parliamentarians to make it official — and the best way to do that was to take very good care of them during the trip in October As much as Kiwan wanted to contribute to the Comoros, a country in such bad shape needs far more help than private investors alone can offer.

But those in favour carried the day. But he says it was due to executive intransigence, and a lack of long-term planning on the part of the Comorian government. He was soon joined by 15 others. Back in the Comoros that November, the men gathered in the national assembly to debate and vote on the economic citizenship bill.

So Kiwan gave the Comorians advice on how build ties with Arab countries to raise more funds. His term signalled the beginning of the end for the Arabs.

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Beggar states cannot be chooser states. Threads collapsed expanded unthreaded.

The Bidoon have no nationality for various reasons: The new administration began to pressure CGH to pay millions of dollars it claimed the company still owed from the economic citizenship funds, and revoked the privileged status that Sambi had afforded Kiwan.

Sinceinternational organisations have been given some clues — few of them consistent with one another — about how much money ended up in state hands.