Yes, expats can buy Dubai property.
Earlier, foreign nationals were reluctant to purchase property in the Middle East, as there were no laws stipulating foreign ownership of Dubai property. This led expats to look elsewhere for second homes or real estate investments.
In 2001, however, things changed. The Dubai government made it permissible for expats of all nationalities to have a 99-year lease of Dubai property in designated areas. Then, in May 2002, the government issued a decree allowing non-GCC nationals to buy Dubai property on freehold ownership. This Freehold Decree, which was a formal legislation, allowed Dubai expats to buy, sell and lease or rent Dubai property in designated freehold zones across the city.
Designed to increase international Dubai real estate investment, and diversify the UAE’s economy which was largely oil dependent, the decree has since put Dubai on the map as a global hotspot and sparked the real estate boom which continues to this day.
With no permissions or legal hassles, buying Dubai property is a relatively simple process and a potentially profitable venture for expats. Rising rents and a sound property market are making buying Dubai property an attractive investment option.
There are two types of real estate ownership for Dubai expats; namely Freehold and Leasehold property ownership.
Freehold versus leasehold
Leasehold implies that a Dubai property can be taken on a lease from a freeholder for a period of 99 years. Technically, it involves buying the right to occupy or live in the Dubai property for a set period of time, as mentioned in the contract. Property ownership at the end of lease reverts to the owner.
Freehold allows the buyer complete and absolute ownership of the Dubai property including the structure and the land it stands on. Freehold Dubai property owners can upgrade or make changes to their property and have full rights to sell or lease it.