Government reforms will boost UAE real estate market

Originally published on Nov 23, 2020 | Arabian Business

Sweeping reforms by the UAE Government, designed to make personal and family laws in the country more expat-friendly, will provide a shot-in-the-arm to the real estate market, which has been under pressure for some time as a result of low oil prices and the continued coronavirus pandemic.

It was announced on Saturday that the UAE is to decriminalise ‘actions that don’t harm others’, potentially ending punishments for cohabitation by unwed couples.

The amendments to the UAE personal status law, criminal code and other laws were made as part of an effort to “strengthen the country’s ability to attract foreign expertise and investment”, state news agency WAM reported.

UAE announces reforms to make country more expat-friendly

Lewis Allsopp, CEO of Allsopp and Allsopp, told Arabian Business: “These new laws will spur expats to consider buying their family home in Dubai and look at the country with longevity with the retirement visa as an option when the time comes - there is no longer a time limit on life in Dubai.

"The new legislation, teamed with the virtual visa for overseas workers will encourage more expats to the country and will be a welcomed boost to the Dubai property market. Working professionals will now take the virtual visa as a chance to trial Dubai without the risk of leaving a secure job in their home country."

According to the latest Knight Frank Global Residential Cities Index for the second quarter of 2020, Abu Dhabi values fell by 8.3 percent and Dubai by 6.6 percent over the past 12 months.

President Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a number of presidential decrees amending the laws which are effective immediately.

The reforms are the latest move by the UAE to future proof the country for a post-coronavirus era.

Last month, Dubai developer Nshama launched UNA - a co-working and co-living space within its popular Town Square project, comprising 478 units, including 96 studios, aimed at millennials and entrepreneurs.

CEO Fred Durie told Arabian Business on Sunday that he expects the latest announcement from the government to generate even more interest in the development.

He said: “I’m sure it will. It was unexpected and there was two or three good bits of news. It’s good for expats living in the area. I think it’s a really progressive move.”

Last month, Dubai launched a virtual visa scheme, which allows remote working professionals from all over the world to relocate to Dubai with their families with access to all services in the emirate, including schooling, telecom and services.

In September, the emirate launched a retirement programme for resident expatriates and foreigners over the age of 55.

Retire in Dubai, the first of its kind in the region, is being spearheaded by Dubai Tourism in collaboration with the General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs.

Dubai has also recently launched the Virtual Company Licence, which allows global businesses to access a regulated e-commerce platform populated by Dubai-based companies, while also exploring new markets and investment opportunities digitally.

The initiative, which allows investors worldwide to do business in Dubai digitally without having to live in the emirate, is expected to attract more than 100,000 companies.