Understanding the UAE housing market and what it means for you

Understanding the UAE housing market and what it means for you

With a raft of new initiatives, like the retirement, extended and foreign ownership visas now coming into play, we take a closer look at the state of the UAE housing market and what this actually means if you want to buy a property.

Dubai has a reputation for attracting top talent to work and reside here, but ultimately their stay appears to have a shelf life – not exactly encouraging when you want to put down roots. However, this perception is starting to shift, thanks in large to the new initiatives introduced last year and this year by the UAE government, designed to make Dubai a home rather than a haven for transient expats. 


What are these initiatives and what do they mean for you? 


The Retirement Visa:

This allows retirees to stay in Dubai for five years after they have finished work with the possibility of renewal, providing they meet the criteria. 

What this means: Previously expats had a 30-day grace period to leave the country once they had retired, but now, instead of sending home an affluent property owner once they reach the very middle-aged figure of 55, residents may well choose to remain here for another five years. Part of the issue with getting expats to commit to buying a property here is the uncertainty for how long they will remain, but with the introduction of this visa, we may well see an increase in entire families staying put and all three generations remaining in the UAE. This scheme is designed to ease expat concerns surrounding their future in the UAE, and this measure goes a long way to creating a feeling of more stability.


The 10-Year Residency:

A visa valid for 10-years and is applicable to specialists in the medical, scientific, research and technical fields, as well as those in the creative innovation industries.

What this means: In the immediate, if you fit the criteria, you will be able to stay in the country for 10-years before having to renew your visa, which anyone will tell you is a huge deal. While this won’t apply to everyone, a number of expats will certainly benefit from such a generous initiative, helping to foster a feeling of belonging and prominence in their adopted country. As a result, this will act as a further incentive to opt for the long-term security of owning rather than renting a property in the UAE. Buying a house is the logical next step in investing in yourself and in the future. Who knows, in the long run, the impact of this law could act as a catalyst for completely changing how the general population view life in the UAE, making it much less transient over time. 


The 5-Year Visa:

Targeted towards modest investors, entrepreneurs and academically gifted students, they will be given a 5-year visa to reside in the UAE. 

What this means: Whilst not everyone can qualify for the 10-year residency visa, this could be an option for expats to consider as well. What’s so interesting about this particular initiative is that it’s not just high achieving university undergraduates that qualify for this visa, it can also be awarded to particularly talented secondary school students. That’s right, a teenager could essentially be awarded a 5-year residency for themselves and their family! While this may not seem like news at first glance, think about the implications; as with the 10-year visa or retirement residency scheme, the whole family is able to reside in the country for an extended period of time, thus increasing the chance of wanting to buy a property. 


100% Foreign Ownership:

Exactly what it says on the tin, this new law will allow foreign investors to set up a business in the Gulf country, whereas previously full ownership of companies based in the UAE was limited to free zones.

What this means: There was a lot of buzz when this was announced which helped to buoy the market. Confidence is high that this law will help increase investment in the region and pave the way for more entrepreneurs and businesses to set up shop here. The knock-on effect is that it will create more jobs, stimulate population growth and increase demand for both renting and buying property; in other words, it’s a win-win scenario. We’re also likely to see a shift in business owners opting to buy rather than rent office space and other commercial property as they plot a long-term future in the region. 

There’s no denying that there’s an upbeat feeling surrounding the market right now, due in no small part to the very welcome way in which the initiatives were rolled out last year. Wave after wave of announcements signal very clearly that the government valued the contribution of expats, and they want them to stick around. 



Taking into consideration all the factors at play, this is an ideal time to make a property investment. Other great things about buying a property in the UAE: Dubai real estate investments are tax free, they have a good capital appreciation and good rental yields.

There could be endless initiatives, laws and schemes passed to enhance stability for the millions of expats living and working in the region, but at the end of the day it comes down to the value you place on your own future. It’s not so much about weighing risk against reward, but about envisioning where you see yourself in the long run. As more expats stay put and help grow the population, demand for property is only going to increase, which means it won’t be a buyer’s market forever, nor will property prices in Dubai remain low. Now is the best time to strike to capitalize early and secure the best deal that makes sense for you for the long term. 


After all, who wouldn’t want to live in Dubai? 


Visit dubizzle for a huge selection of apartments and villas for sale in Dubai and the other Emirates. 

  • Bhushan Pahuja

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