Without a doubt, one of the most exciting pieces of news in the past few weeks was the announcement that investors into the UAE market and certain categories of skilled professionals will be granted 10-year residence visas, and that all mainland companies will now be able to have 100 per cent foreign ownership. As someone whose work involves, to no small extent, inviting new investments into Dubai's property market, I could not be more thrilled. This is a wonderful new development for the city.
Dubai has always been one of the most investor-friendly cities in the Middle East, especially in the real estate sector. I have known people in the UK and the US who have considered the possibility of investing in Dubai, and I have always endorsed that idea based on four main points.
Firstly, despite the many up and downs that the market has faced, Dubai continues to see a growing roster of fantastic real estate projects that are reshaping the landscape of the city in a literal and metaphorical sense. Expo 2020 and the expected influx of visitors is a driving factor, but it is also a commitment to maintaining the city's position as a top global destination for residents and visitors alike.
The second key point is that Dubai delivers on the promises it makes. The Burj Khalifa, Palm Jumeirah, Mohammed Bin Rashid City - all of these were ambitious and, some might say, far-fetched ideas that Dubai has brought to life one at a time. Even now, the foundations of Mohammed Bin Rashid City are solidifying as the first phase of the project starts to deliver and we already find ourselves looking at phase two.
Third, and perhaps most important when it comes to investment, is the fact that Dubai offers returns that far outstrip those of other cosmopolitan cities around the world, such as London, New York or Hong Kong.
The fourth point is that Dubai's regulations and policies have been designed to make things easier for investors, minimising the paperwork and process involved and the introduction of VAT notwithstanding, providing a tax-free haven. This new announcement only adds to that point, and possibly creates a fifth point for me to emphasise.
Investors have been focused primarily on short-term gains in Dubai, funnelling money into the economy and watching their capital grow only to take the money out and re-invest it elsewhere at an opportune moment. We should now see a shift toward more long-term investments with an aim to consolidating an investor's local portfolio.
The ability to fully own and operate a company in the UAE without the need for an Emirati partner will further strengthen investment not just into the general market but also into commercial properties. I imagine there will be a surge in homegrown businesses and startups in the near future, making the economy more competitive and ultimately, more profitable.
Boon for residents and homeowners
As much as investors benefit from the new rule, it will really be a boon for residents and homeowners. The idea of a 10-year residency visa in the UAE is quite staggering itself, but becomes even more remarkable when you consider the fact that it is longer than similar permits you would get elsewhere in the world. While Dubai has outgrown its past as a tourist spot and is seen as an increasingly attractive city for a primary residence, there has still always been a sense of transience to the city, with residents eventually moving on to different cities after an all-too brief stay. Being able to comfortably spend a decade in Dubai will go a long way in making the city feel more like home and that will, in turn, drive up demand for homes.
Needless to say, I consider this to be very exciting news and it has brought fresh energy to my private client office team, who have been busy advising our clients from around the world about these new developments. Over the next few months, I expect that the ripples from this announcement will keep us quite busy indeed. Exciting times ahead.
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