Laws concerning property ownership by expatriates are different from one emirate to another. This page provides information about regulations of buying a property in the UAE.
Law No. 19 of 2005 Concerning the Regulation of the Real Estate Sector in Abu Dhabi allows expatriates to own properties in the form of floors and apartments only, not lands, through four main systems:
Expatriates are granted ownership deeds of residential units for a period of 99 years, which allow them to fully dispose off the apartments and villas they buy (land is not included).
Expatriates can own residential units for a period of 50 years, renewable by the agreement of the parties for a similar period. Masataha contracts entitle the owner to enjoy the use, construction or alteration of the property within the specified period.
Expatriates can own residential units for 99 years. The usufruct contract entitles the owner to enjoy the use of the property and its facilities without being able to change it.
Long-term lease is given for an initial period, not less than 25 years.
Designated areas for ownership in Abu Dhabi
There are nine areas in Abu Dhabi, where foreigners are allowed to own real estate properties. They are: Yas Island, Saadiyat, Reem, Mariya, Lulu, Al Raha Beach, Sayh Al Sedairah, Al Reef and Masdar City.
Learn more about regulations for expatriates owning properties in Abu Dhabi.
Amended provisions in Abu Dhabi Real Estate Law
In April 2019, an amendment was made to the Abu Dhabi Real Estate law which allows foreigners to own real estate properties in Abu Dhabi investment areas.
The new law stipulates amendments to Articles 3 and 4 of the above law.
Article 3 (i) stipulates the rights to own property are limited to three categories. They are:
Article 3 (ii) stipulates that non-UAE nationals, natural or legal persons, have the right to own and acquire all original and in-kind rights in real estate properties located within investment areas.
Article 4 stipulates that the holders of a 'usufruct' or 'musataha' for more than 10 years have the right, without the consent of the landlord to dispose of the property, including the right of mortgage. However, the landlord may not mortgage the property except with the consent of the usufruct or musataha holder. In both cases, the parties may agree otherwise.
Read full article on Abu Dhabi Government website (Tamm).
In Dubai, foreign ownership is permitted in areas designated as freehold. Foreigners (who don’t live in the UAE) and expatriate residents may acquire freehold ownership rights over property without restriction, usufruct rights, or leasehold rights for up to 99 years.
Article 3 of Regulation No. 3 of 2006 Determining Areas for Ownership by Non-Nationals of Real Property in the Emirate of Dubai (pages 129-132) indicates the land plots designated as freehold properties.
The title deeds are issued by the Land Department in the emirate. There is no age limit to own property in Dubai.
Read more about properties ownership and lease in Dubai Real Estate Legislation.
For additional information about buying properties in the UAE contact:
Search for approved brokers in Dubai.
According to Executive Council Resolution No. 26 of 2014 Regarding the Usufruct of Real Estate Properties in the Emirate of Sharjah, (in Arabic) foreign nationals and companies owned by foreign nationals in the UAE do not have the right to own, but they have the right of usufruct for 100 years maximum after registering such usufruct right with the Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department (SRERD).
The resolution stipulates also that usufruct right must be within the areas specified by the Government of Sharjah for this purpose, and it is given only after a special approval is obtained from the Ruler of Sharjah.
Read FAQs relating to buying usufruct right in Sharjah.
For more information, contact the Real Estate Registration Department.