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Tue 14 Jan 2014 07:48 PM

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Abu Dhabi to give foreigners freehold property titles

Move seeks to attract more investors to UAE capital's real estate sector

Abu Dhabi to give foreigners freehold property titles
Skyscrapers stand on the skyline viewed from the Central Market in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, on Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2012. Abu Dhabi, the oil-rich sheikhdom that spent 36 billion Dirhams ($9.8 billion) bailing out its biggest developer in 2011, will probably reach for its checkbook again as property companies in the United Arab Emirates face a stalled market and deadlines to repay debt. (Credit: Bloomberg News)

Foreigners can own property in Abu Dhabi on a freehold basis in designated investment zones, the emirate announced on Tuesday, seeking to attract more investors to its real estate sector.

Residential units in the zones will be registered under Abu Dhabi's freehold law, with property ownership deeds issued to investors, a statement from the Abu Dhabi Municipality said.

Previously, foreign investors in Abu Dhabi property were generally limited to leasehold arrangements with 99-year leases.

The brief statement did not give details of the freehold arrangement or explain exactly how it differed from other property rights in Abu Dhabi, or from freehold rights abroad. Officials could not be contacted on Tuesday to elaborate on the statement.

Abu Dhabi, capital of the United Arab Emirates, has designated areas for property investment by foreigners. Some of the zones are being developed by majority state-owned Aldar Properties, the largest developer in the emirate.

"This marks the launch of a very important phase in the development of the real estate market in Abu Dhabi, a phase which presents us with new opportunities for growth and development offered by Abu Dhabi's economy," Abubaker Seddiq al Khoori, chairman of Aldar, said in the statement.

"We believe in Aldar Properties that attracting long-term foreign investors will bring great benefits to Abu Dhabi in particular and to the UAE in general so that we can continue our path of construction and development."

Abu Dhabi has been trying to boost its residential property market through regulation and other steps for the past couple of years, after its property sector was hit hard during the global economic slump of 2008-09.

In 2012, Abu Dhabi pressed public sector employees living outside the emirate to relocate within its borders. Last November, Abu Dhabi scrapped a 5 percent cap on annual rent increases.

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Munim Bokhari 6 years ago

It would be an excellent gesture if Abu Dhabi take a lead & also allows long term residence visas to expat- owner of a freehold property. Economy of entire GCC would be flourished by leaps and bounds.UAE would be the most loved leader amongst GCC countries.

David 6 years ago

The last person I would expect to make sweeping predictions without basis would be Brits, but could someone please explain how the entire GCC would flourish by "leaps and bounds" if Abu Dhabi allows visas to property owners? If anything, the economy of Abu Dhabi and UAE would improve, but where does the other 5 countries come in?

Hopeful 6 years ago

Long term residence for those who have been in the UAE for over a lengthy period of time (20-25+ years) would be very beneficial to the culture and residential market of the UAE. This would filter out the residents who are here for their jobs, and allow those who genuinely call UAE home to live in peace.

Andy 6 years ago

Permanent residency visas as long as the owner owns the unit would be nice.

brainlessspeculator 6 years ago

Abu Dhabi - No RERA, No comprehensive real estate laws, no regulations of developers, brokers, service charge, escrow, mortgages, surveys, etc, etc.
Think Dubai 2007......
This press release looks like all headline - no substance. Abu Dhabi has been selling/delivering "freehold" real estate to foreigners for 6+ years now! What no Title Deeds? No Laws? Regulations? Enforcement? Gee I wonder why the market lags Dubai so much........

Telcoguy 6 years ago

Hi David,
Welcome onboard, I guess by questioning the above post you are now part of the unofficial list of UAE haters.
From your post it seems you may not be familiar with the hyperbole as a figure of speech. As a rule, the more flowery the speech, and the larger the comparisons, the less substance. In this region it seems to have replaced critical thinking.
Do not worry too much, if you keep reading the comments here you will soon become desensitized even though some of the things I have seen are almost NK level (but still my favorite is Kim Jong's "Dear Leader, who is a perfect incarnation of the appearance that a leader should have")

@brainlessspeculator, yes. Amazing. Anyhow emerging economies tend to have shorter bubble-bust cycles

Andy 6 years ago

I have a feeling those properties will come with 16-20AED per square foot in building fees that they will charge you. Will be interesting to see what the community fees will be for where foreigners are allowed to by houses will be.

SA1 6 years ago

@Telcoguy - Whats so bad or inferior if people praise their leaders in flower language?
Isn't the British treat their monarch in somewhat similar ways...may not be flowery language but very much gaga to the outsiders. After seeing the extravagant weddings, jubilees, births

Monkey Tennis 6 years ago

Oh dear, he hates the Brits as much as he hates Dubai, so please don't get him started. I agree with you though, the world would be a dull and boring place if everyone used the same utilitarian, dull rhetoric - a little poetry and grandeur in every day speech is a good thing in my book.

Telcoguy 6 years ago

@SA1 the British stopped talking like this about their Dear Leader some 200 years ago, and if you think that NK claims that the Kim discovered electromagnetism, modern physics and a number of other things are perfectly normal I seriously doubt that we will agree on anything
@MT have you bothered to read the original post or that would be way too much effort for you? Maybe you can explain how this proposal will " entire GCC would be flourished by leaps and bounds.UAE would be the most loved leader amongst GCC countries"?

I rather have a a fact-grounded discussion, I realize that is hard for some