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Dubai – attracting foreigners from around the world


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Dubai – attracting foreigners from around the world


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A place to live

In the last two decades, Dubai has evolved from a trading centre to an international hub for individuals, companies and entrepreneurs looking to take advantage of the many benefits this vibrant city offers. While the presence of Indian and other West Asian citizens and companies can be explained by geographical proximity and a common culture, the relatively strong presence of westerners is a testimony to the openness and attractiveness of Dubai.

Families relocate to Dubai for many reasons:

  • Lifestyle: The emirate boasts world-class infrastructure that enhances lifestyle. Dubai ranks 16th in the world (1st in the Middle East) on The Knight Frank City Wealth Index 2017.
  • Cosmopolitan work environment: Over 200 different nationalities live and work in the UAE.
  • Security: Dubai is recognised as one of the safest cities in the world.
  • Weather: There is sunshine all year round.
  • Connectivity: The UAE offers direct flights to more than 90 countries.
  • Language: English is the lingua franca, in spite of Arabic being the official language.
  • Legal system: There is access to English common law via the common law free zones.
  • Business: The UAE ranks 26th out of 190 countries when it comes to ease of doing business.
  • There are more than 112 embassies and consulates in the UAE.
  • The UAE is a tax-free and duty-free jurisdiction. As a result, people have more disposable income and can enjoy one of the best standards of living in the world.
  • Investment in real estate: Foreigners are allowed to acquire real estate in Dubai.


How to relocate to Dubai

There are basically three ways to move to Dubai. These are starting a company; obtaining a work permit; or buying property.

Incorporation of a company – Investor Visa

This is the most convenient and efficient option for obtaining a residence visa (valid for two to three years). Ideally, the foreigner will set up a company in any one of the 45 free-trade zones spread across the UAE’s seven emirates, which allow for 100% foreign shareholding. Depending on the selected free zone, it can take only a few weeks to set up the company and obtain the residence visa.


Applying for a work permit – Employment Visa

Taking employment in Dubai remains the cheapest way of obtaining a residence visa in the UAE. As an employee,
the foreigner is provided with an employment/residence visa valid for two to three years. It is the responsibility of the employer to organise for the visa and liaise with the UAE immigration authorities to obtain the necessary employment visa for the foreigner. As per Dubai laws, the employer also needs to bear the costs of the visa application.


Purchase of real estate – Property Residence Visa

The purchase of a real estate property can also facilitate acquiring a residence visa in the UAE. Properties based in the emirate of Dubai provide for residence visas, which are renewable every two years. For properties outside of Dubai, the property owner can apply and obtain a multiple entry visit visa renewable every six months. The property owner can then sponsor their family members. Some of the conditions of the property visa are as follows:

  1. The value of the residential property (after deducting the mortgaged amount outstanding) should be more than AED 1 million (about US$275,000).
  2. The property owner must have a monthly income of no less than AED 10,000 or its equivalent in foreign currency.
  3. The property must also be completed and suitable to live in.
  4. Only one person can apply for residency with a given property, even if ownership is deemed to be held jointly.

Acquiring property in Dubai

The UAE has been experiencing declining sales prices and rents as new residential supply continues to focus largely on the affordable segment. This provides the opportunity for end users to enter the market and become home owners. Certain Dubai residential developers have started to offer payment plans phased over two or three years to service the mid-market segment. Potential investors can also access real estate finance in Dubai on very competitive terms. Since the 2008 property crisis, Dubai has put in place a number of bold steps to prevent speculation and protect investors and home owners:

  • The transfer fee for each property transaction has increased from 2% to 4% of the property value, well below rates applicable in other jurisdictions – for example, France (6%) and the UK (4–15%) – to prevent speculation, and maintain a stable market.
  • The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) has been established as a regulator of all real estate operators
    and projects.
  • RERA publishes a rental index that outlines the percentages of maximum property rent increase that are allowed
    upon renewal of tenancy contracts.
  • Developers need to maintain escrow accounts, providing protection to mortgagees of off-plan purchases.
  • Credit bureaux give UAE banks access to consumer credit information, reducing exposure to risky borrowers and offering improved terms to borrowers with better credit profiles.


Helping you set up or relocate in the UAE

With over eight years’ presence in Dubai, ABAX UAE assists companies and individuals to relocate in Dubai. We help with all visa and business application procedures, and will deal with the relevant authorities on your behalf. We have also built specific expertise helping companies to set up in UAE’s free zones and assisting them with their ongoing compliance and administration requirements.

Nousrath Bhugeloo


Nina Auchoybur

Managing Director ABAX UAE

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