Property Law in Dubai
This page last edited April 2007
and is in dire need of an update. It does not yet include information
about many recent changes. Our apologies. Mind the Gap.
- The Property Law, or more correctly, Real Estate Law No.7 of 2006
was published mid 2006. Previously, foreign ownership of property was
between buyer and developer.
- UAE federal law does not allow foreign
ownership of property. It does not explicitly disallow foreign
property ownership either so individual emirates may allow ownership
within designated areas.
- Dubai Land Department is the sole competent official authority for
registration of property and land owners or leaseholders in Dubai as
of 06 March 2006.
- Foreigners are able to lease or purchase property in certain
freehold areas defined by the Dubai Government (detailed in Order No.
3 of 2006 published on 03 July 2006).
- Freehold ownership means buyer owns property outright and ownership
title should be registered at the Dubai Land Department (not Dubai
- For apartment buildings, each building will be granted a single title
deed. So it seems that commonhold property owners do not have
clear title to their property and may have to rely on a contractual
with the building owner/developer. Refer article 23 of the Real Estate
- Leasehold (long-term lease, usufruct) is given as 5 to 99 years.
- Residency permits are subject to the approval of the Dubai Naturalisation
and Residency Department (DNRD - correct name is Department of Naturalisation
and Residency, Dubai). Approval is not guaranteed - some applications
have been rejected. See the Dubai
visas page for application conditions.
- Abu Dhabi emirate only allows 99 year lease, not freehold, for expatriates
(as of end 2006).
Divorce and Property in Dubai
- Law of country of husband's nationality will usually apply (complications
if dual nationality or non-UAE but wife is UAE national).
- Age, health, earning capacity, existing capital, number and age and
parentage of children affect distribution of assests.
Freehold Law in Dubai
- Freehold title only available in certain designated areas to non-UAE
- Some properties are in areas designated as freehold but sold as leasehold.
Leasehold Law for Dubai Properties
- Leasehold usually 99 year leases (some have a 50 year lease).
Inheritance Law in Dubai
- Should make a will for property in Dubai.
- Die intestate is not a good thing - question over law of which country
will apply. In simple case, law of country of nationality but not certain
especially if multiple claims on property.
- No death or inheritance taxes in the UAE but may be some from your
country of domicile (not necessarily the same as residence) eg UK domiciled
citizens have taxes imposed on worldwide assets.
Sharia Law and Property in Dubai
- Applies to UAE citizens or citizens of countries where Sharia Law
is applied eg Pakistan.
- Does not apply to Muslims with citizenship of a non-Sharia Law country
eg US or UK.
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