Expats granted right to buy freehold homes in UAE

Published:  21 Jan at 6 PM
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Foreigners working legally in Abu Dhabi can now purchase freehold properties located in specifically designated investment zones in the city.

Previously, expats were only allowed to purchase leasehold properties, with the change widely believed to have been brought in to stimulate the property market. For a decade or more, neighbouring Dubai has granted non-GCC nationals the right to buy freehold homes, making the emirate’s real estate market one of the world’s most vibrant.

Hard hit by the 2008 financial crash, the property sector in Abu Dhabi has been slow to recover and it's hoped the new rule will improve market conditions. A number of the designated investment zones are already being developed by Aldar Properties, the largest commercial developer in the emirate and mainly state-owned.

Its CEO, Abubaker Seddiq al Khoori, told the media that attracting overseas investors as well as expats working in the emirate was expected to deliver great benefits to the UAE in general as well as to the city. Expat professionals in Abu Dhabi consider the move as positive, but have reservations about the complications and strict requirements of freehold property rights.

Gated community freehold homes come with attached conditions such as making sure any changes made fit in with the general style of the development. Freehold properties on individual plots may have even more conditions applied.
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