Owning A Dream in UAE for Expats

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Staff Writer, TLR

Published on July 14, 2023, 17:41:00


Owning A Dream in UAE for Expats

Buying or renting houses and having a roof over one's head is one of the most basic necessities in life and here are the ways expats can own houses in UAE.


According to Law No. (19) of 2005 on real estate ownership, expatriates are only allowed to own real estate in the form of apartments through various methods of ownership.

The Abu Dhabi government offers four main systems that allow foreigners to own real estate in the emirate:
1. Property system- Specific ownership entities foreigners to own property such as villas and apartments without land for a period of about 99 years.
2. Musataha system- Foreigners can own residential units within certain investment areas under “musataha” contracts for a period of 50 years and have the option to have a renewable agreement        of  the two parties for a similar period, which enables construction on unused land. 
    Musataha contracts entitle the owner to enjoy the use of the property and build it or change it during a specified period of years.
3. Benefit system- Foreigners can own residential units within certain investment areas under “usufruct” contracts for a period of 99 years. The usufruct contract entitles the owner to enjoy the use         of    the property and its facilities without the ability to change it.
4. Long term rental system- this system states the right to rent units for an initial period of no less than 25 years.

Freehold areas in Abu Dhabi
Nine areas wherein foreigners are allowed to own real estate:
● Lol
● Mariah
● Saadiyat
● Yass Island
● Masdar City
● Country
● And Saih Al-Sedira
● Al Raha Beach

In April 2019, His Highness Sheikh Khalifa, in his capacity as Ruler of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, issued a law, amending some provisions of Law No. 19 of 2005 on real estate ownership, granting non-nationals the ownership of real estate located within investment areas and making any disposal of them.

The new law stipulates replacing the texts of Articles 3 and 4 of the law, as the new Article (3) states that the right to own real estate is limited to the following categories:
● Citizens, the natural legal persons
● Public shareholding companies, with shares held by non-nationals is not more than 49%
● Any person on whom a decision is issued by the crown prince or the chairman of the executive council.

The law stipulates that non-citizen, whether natural or legal persons, have the right to own and acquire all the original and dependent rights in kind over real estate located within the investment areas, and they have the right to take any action on these real estate properties. 
And the new Article (4) stipulates that whoever has a usufruct or a musataha right for a period of more than ten years, without the owner’s permission, can dispose of this right, including its mortgage. 

Foreigners in Dubai are allowed to:
● Have ownership in freehold areas
● acquisition of the right to own real estate is an absolute ownership that is not restricted by time
● The right to usufruct the real estate, or the right to lease it for a period not exceeding 99 years in the areas specified by the land department.
Article 3 of Legislation No. 3 of 2006 regarding defining the areas for non-nationals to own real estate in the Emirate of Dubai, refers to the areas designated for freehold ownership (pages 115-117). Title deeds of real estate owned in the Emirate of Dubai are issued by the Land Department, and there is no age requirement for ownership in the Emirate.

To own property, one needs to sign a usufruct contract. The period of usufruct shall be a maximum of 100 years from the date of signing the usufruct contract with the Real Estate Registration Department in Sharjah.
This shall be done after attaining a license to purchase property in the specified areas with the permission of the ruler and the condition he determines. This process shall be approved by Executive Council Resolution No. 26 of 2014 regarding the use of real estate in the Emirate of Sharjah

The  property market tends to fluctuate from time to time but By and large, it is a stable sector with reliable rental and resale values. However, with growing numbers of new developments, there is a lot of choice. 

By Kairavi Shah

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