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Dubai freehold property law explained

Positioning itself as a global metropolis, it’s no surprise why Dubai is an attractive city to invest in and that's where freehold property law comes in.

The real estate scene in Dubai has recently made headlines by generating over USD 1B worth of property transactions in one day. Positioning itself as a global metropolis, it’s no surprise why Dubai is an attractive city to invest in. Foreigners and expatriates are highly encouraged to invest in UAE properties.

In this article, we break down just how and where you can make your next investment.

The legalese, simplified

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. (source:

This means that foreigners and expat residents can benefit from owning property in any designated freehold areas. There are numerous benefits to purchasing a freehold property such as:

  • Complete control: As an owner of freehold property, you are able to have complete control which means you can lease, alter/modify and resell the property.

  • Permanent ownership: You have permanent rights over the property and the land. This means that you can transfer ownership to the next generation. So, until you or your inheritors decide to sell the property, it will remain under your family’s ownership.

  • No taxes, seriously: Annual property and inheritance taxes that is! While you are subject to a one-time fee to the Dubai Land Department upon your property’s transfer and an annual municipality tax, the tax rates are still comparatively lower than the global average.

  • Renewable residence visas: You and your family can avail of the UAE’s residence visa if the property’s value is AED 1M and above.

  • Leasehold vs. Freehold: Leasehold properties are limited as they remain under your ownership for only a maximum of 99 years. You don’t have ownership of the land your property is on and decisions regarding modification of your property have to be made with the developer.

Where you can purchase a property

Now that we’ve clarified the fine print, let’s explore the areas where you can purchase a property. Dubai has an extensive number of zones you can choose from depending on what you’re looking for. From tranquil suburban living to locations that are a stone’s throw away from Dubai’s iconic landmarks, you’re spoilt for choice!

Learn more about some of the best areas to live such as Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Palm Jumeirah and Dubai Creek Harbour.

Written by Ysabella Louise Manlangit

Published on 23 November 2022

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