August 2019 journals such as The Times of Israel and Haaretz carried inspiring
articles concerning the growing popularity of Portugal as a destination for the
settlement of young Sabras (Jews born in Palestine) of a happy, hippy
disposition. Theirs was the intention
of turning unwanted land and disused buildings into desirable and productive farmsteads
for occupation in a creative kibbutz
style of living . Such communities
would enjoy a bucolic existence where ecology, alternative therapies, organic
farming and Temples of free love would set an example to what remained of the
indigenous Portuguese population. The
chosen regions were initially the
Alentejo and Coimbra and stories abounded of large tracts of
land with habitations being bought for as little as €2,000 per hectare.
But there was also a movement to the districts of Porto of young urban Israelis who intended to introduce their IT and other professional skills to local commerce. First among the property developers was the Taga-Urbanica Group which formed a liason with the brokers Real Estate Boutique. Their CEO, Shlomi Avni, set a target to rehabilitate at least seven hundred apartments in the five years to 2023 with an initial investment of €100million but this has been far exceeded with a total of 1,250 units to date and sales being made principally to international investors.
Eli Taieb , an Israeli entrepreneur, who has been active in Portuguese real estate since 2017 through his company Emanuelle Investments Lda. ( located in Porto) also specialises in recruiting investors to participate in opportunities for both new construction and rehabilitation. Yehonatan Gourvitch , the owner of YGI Investments Lda., is a dealer and asset manager who has a Hebrew language web-site which gives relocation guidance to those investors wishing to assimilate.
Evidence of Israeli successes in real estate has not always been as transparent as one might hope but the there has been much recent publicity for the projected Skyline tower which is to be built in Gaia at a cost of €150million by the Fortera Group of which Elad Dror is CEO . The 28 storey building will be the tallest in Portugal at more than 100 metres and will house a hotel with 160 rooms and 110 serviced apartments supported by the usual infinity pool, health club and restaurants. Prices are expected to be as high as €7,000 per m2.
In June 2021, the Eurox Group (led by Bernhard Babel) began construction in the municipality of Grandola of a unit for the production of medicinal cannabis including laboratories for research in plant genetics and their possible applications. Cannabis is also projected for cultivation on a large scale in Vila de Rei where a €10million investment by Cann10-Portugal will include a factory for processing the crop into pharmaceuticals. The same Company has a similar scheme intended for Castelo Branco. Its CEO is Tamir Pardo who is a former director of Mossad and a controversial figure in current Israeli politics. Other executives of Cann10 include Moses Sabon and Yair Sayag who reportedly stated that other “medicinal” products of the Company are to be imported to Portugal. With astronomical profits resulting from sales predicted to reach an annual €100 billion worldwide by year 2025 it is comprehensible why so many erstwhile politicians and members of their security services should be anxious to join the gravy train.
Most of the several thousand Israeli pioneers who have arrived here during the past three years plus the nomadic investors and potential industrialists are of Ashkenazi descent but the minority who are able to prove a Sephardi lineage dating back to the expulsions of the late 15th and early 16th centuries have been able to secure dual Portuguese nationality which , of course, gives access to many privileges of our country and of the EU. Those who do not qualify for the fast track offered by the Israelite Community of Porto, have been able to secure the privilege of being Portuguese by payment through the infamous Golden Visa scheme.