Buying property in Abu Dhabi
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
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:
- Emirati citizens, natural or legal persons
- public holding companies where ownership with non-nationals does not exceed 49 per cent
- as any person to whom a decision is issued by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince or the President of the Executive Council.
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).
Buying property in Dubai
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: