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  About Freehold Properties

Dubai was the first emirate of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to get involved in freehold real estate, at a time when UAE and GCC nationals were only permitted to own property in the United Arab Emirates. Buying real estate in the Emirates is slowly changing and becoming more available to expats.

History of Freehold Real Estate in Dubai
In 2001, the Dubai government agreed to allow expats to have a 99-year lease of particular Dubai property, but in May 2002, the crown prince of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoom, issued a decree allowing foreigners to buy property on freehold ownership. After Sheikh Maktoum's decree, this sparked the real estate boom in Dubai's residential property.

The purchase of property on freehold basis means that the property is put in the owner's name for life, and the owner has the right to sell, lease or rent his/her property at their own discretion. Property owners and their immediate family, will obtain renewable Dubai residence visas for life, which can cost Dhs. 5,000 per person. Freehold property in Dubai is currently limited to areas of Bur Dubai closest to the end of Dubai, where Dubai connects with Abu Dhabi. Some of these areas include Sheikh Zayed Road, Jumeirah, Jebel Ali, and Dubailand.

RERA rules

Step forward the Real Estate Regulatory Authority which now licenses over 400 developers active in the Dubai market, and which is responsible for imposing the escrow account law.

This means that developers have to deposit funds for off-plan apartment projects into a separate account, unless they are given special dispensation by the RERA. In practice the interests of both parties is protected: the buyer knows that funds are correctly held on deposit; and the developer is protected from making poor investments with the money.

The RERA is working hand-in-hand with the Dubai Land Department, the real estate title registry. The latter is making progress in registering freehold titles of property sold to date in Dubai, and has just warned property owners that registrations after the middle of 2008 will be based on a percentage of the market and not original selling price.


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