Economic robustness, flexible visas and prime property boost Dubai’s international appeal

Favourable reforms to its visa system together with a bullish property market and dynamic high-end sector are helping to strengthen Dubai’s position as one of the world’s most attractive destinations to high net worth individuals (HNWIs) for both residency and investment, said international property specialist Spot Blue International Property in October 2022.

The United Arab Emirate’s (UAE) new Advanced Visa System came into effect on 3rd October 2022, giving more options to foreign nationals wishing to work, live and invest in Dubai. The revisions come at a time when the emirate’s property market has rebounded significantly after the Covid pandemic, the handling of which it has been highly praised for, and the rate of HNWIs gaining residency there is faster than any other prime real estate destination globally.

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Crucially, the updated visa legislation offers more flexibility to overseas investors using the UAE’s Golden Visa scheme to gain residency. To be eligible, today investors need to invest AED 2 million in property, as opposed to AED 5 million under the old rules. In addition, purchasing with a loan from a designated local bank can now be used to qualify for a Golden Visa, and this counts for one or more off-plan properties with a combined value that exceeds AED 2 million. Other beneficial changes include the extension of the duration of a Golden Visa to 10 years from five years previously and the holder no longer needing to visit the UAE every six months.

“As we head towards 2023, dismal economic conditions mean many Western countries aren’t especially attractive places for foreign entrepreneurs or affluent international citizens, either to work or invest,” said Julian Walker, Director at Spot Blue International Property. “But Dubai certainly bucks this trend right now. The emirate has ambitious plans to develop its infrastructure and create sustainable economic conditions to grow its population to 5.8 million from the current 3.5 million. The new Etihad Rail is a good example and once complete will link 11 cities across the UAE’s seven emirates, with the journey time by rail between Abu Dhabi and Dubai being just 50 minutes.”

The Advanced Visa System is designed to boost Dubai’s foreign workforce and bring foreign money and expertise into the emirate. It includes a host of visas geared towards skilled workers, freelancers and self-employed people, investors, entrepreneurs and foreigners coming to train.

“Increasing the number of incoming international workers will help to maintain a robust rental market, which is good news for long-term investors in Dubai,” continued Mr Walker at Spot Blue International Property. “And of course, a large percentage of foreigners choose to settle in Dubai and purchase primary residences there. The tax and lifestyle benefits will always be key drivers for residential purchases, but currently Dubai’s immunity to the financial volatility in other prime real estate destinations, which are experiencing rising interest rates, an inflated cost of living and uncertainty over property values, is a further incentive to come to Dubai.”

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Dubai’s increasing international appeal is reflected in a collection of recent reports. Findings include an 18 per cent rise in the emirate’s population of HNWIs during the first six months of 2022 – currently, ranked 23rd in the world’s most popular cities for HNWIs, it is expected to break into the top 20 by 2030. Meanwhile, the UAE is the global destination forecast to have the highest number of HNWIs applying for residency or citizenship, namely 4,000, in 2022. In addition, Dubai is one of only four global cities with a property market rated ‘Fair-valued’ in the UBS Global Real Estate Bubble Index 2022, the remaining 21 cities, regarded as overvalued (London and New York) or at risk of a bubble (Hong Kong, Toronto, Frankfurt).

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