Prince Bander Al Saud

الأمير بندر آل سعود

Prince Bander, a member of the royal Al Saud family, was able to have his full name withheld from publication in the list of new citizens published annually in the Malta Government Gazette.


Prince Bander (or Bandar) is a member of the Al-Farhan branch of the Al Saud royal family and the son of Khaled and Barbara (or Noura) Al Saud. He is the President of Unified Real Estate Development Co, a shopping centre developer in Saudi Arabia.

The residency proposal

Prince Bander leased a flat in the Maltese suburb of Swieqi in September 2015 and submitted an application to buy Maltese passports for himself and his family in May 2016. One day later, Identity Malta wrote to Henley & Partners, accepting Prince Bander's proposal to establish residency in fulfilment of the 12-month requirement. His passport application was approved seven months later.

Flats in these new blocks — until a couple of years ago incongruous in the villages and suburbs they mushroomed in but now the dominant building type in Malta — were rented by Prince Bander, but never lived in, so that he could qualify for residency.

In an internal email, one senior employee at Henley & Partners questioned Identity Malta's letter validating the applicant's “proposal” to satisfy the residency requirement asking, “Could you please explain how subject client already met the 12 months residence requirement?” A member of the firm's application processing staff replied, “The letter of the 12 months residence is issued to the clients with the acknowledgment of payment as this is a standard procedure…. Identity Malta issue this letter prior to the actual year in order to satisfy the needs of the EU on the IIP.”

Jonathan Cardona, formerly the CEO of Identity Malta and now CEO of its successor, Komunita Malta, did not comment directly about Prince Bander's case but said: “For clarity, fairness and transparency, at the beginning of the implementation of the IIP it was deemed necessary to have a very specific point as to when the 12 month residence status should start.”

The removal from the Government Gazette

Prince Bander was able to have his full name withheld from publication in the list of new citizens published annually in the Malta Government Gazette. In internal correspondence Henley & Partners noted that Prince Bander had met then Prime Minister Joseph Muscat and had “explained that it is of utmost importance not to mention his full name rather to mention “Mr Bander A. Saud”.” (Acquiring dual nationality is illegal in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, unless exceptional permission is granted first.)

What they said

Asked for his reaction at the time of Prince Bander's request to have his name redacted in the Malta Government Gazette, former prime minister Joseph Muscat said: “I am informed that in all cases, the relevant authorities acted in terms of the citizenship and applicable laws.” He did not respond to any questions about residency.

Neither Prince Bander nor Unified Real Estate Development Co. responded to requests for comment. Henley & Partners declined, citing confidentiality obligations, and said the firm is “committed to complying with all applicable laws and regulations.”