In Passport to Freedom, Arab nationals from Syria, Iraq, and Egypt describe what led them either to flee their country as refugees or go abroad to set up a new life – and, in the process, get dual nationality and a second passport. The 2011 revolutions sparked an increase in the numbers of emigrants, wanting to escape political instability and economic uncertainty in several Arab countries.
“Emigration used to be a way of solving economic problems to achieve an end,” explains Ayman Zohry, a population and migration expert at the American University of Cairo. “Now, it’s become a desire to emigrate permanently and live abroad.” Zohry notes that two years after the Arab Spring, there were “about 23 million Arabs living in countries other than their own.”
Not just revolution, but war has forced the Syrians to flee – but according to researcher Yaseer Shabani, a perceived lack of “social justice” has been the main cause of Iraqis and Egyptians going abroad.
Around 2.3 million Egyptians emigrated in the year 2000, but this climbed to 3.46 million in 2013.