Tips for foreign investors on where and how to buy property in Abu Dhabi

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Rating: 4.8/5 (voted 706)

Alexey Nosovsky

A representative of the Legal Department at iWorld. Author of articles on Migration Law.

Update: 19 April 2024 8 minutes read
Real estate in Abu Dhabi with city and sea views

Abu Dhabi is the wealthiest emirate of the UAE with a solvent population and high rental property prices. About 90% of the country’s oil reserves are stored there. Therefore, residential and commercial property in Abu Dhabi, the country’s business center, is profitable to let.

Thanks to Law 13 of 2019, foreigners were able to buy properties in designated investment zones of Abu Dhabi. In order to purchase real estate, after selecting the property, the foreign buyer must sign a contract with the seller, pay for the transaction and obtain a registration certificate for the property. In this article, you will find out how, where and at what cost you can buy a property in Abu Dhabi to benefit from it.

The advantages of buying property in Abu Dhabi

There are the following advantages of buying real estate in the capital of the United Arab Emirates:

  • return on investment in Abu Dhabi is 7-8% per annum, as housing and commercial properties are in demand for rent among permanent and visiting residents;
  • 700 kilometers of coastline, gorgeous beaches and many islands in Abu Dhabi have created an ideal environment for the development of tourism;
  • the emirate offers available lots of land for construction at a relatively low price – from 500 USD per square meter;
  • the opportunity to issue a residence permit for 5 years through the purchase of real estate worth 5 million dirhams (1,361,322 USD) or 10 years when the value of the object is 10 million (2,722,644 USD).

Investing in real estate in Abu Dhabi is beneficial to those who:

  • wants to buy a constructed facility and rent it out;
  • is ready to invest in construction for future sale or lease;
  • is considering the possibility of selling the property at a higher price in the future;
  • wants to live in the capital of the United Arab Emirates in their own home or develop their own business.

Purchase options

An investor can buy property in Abu Dhabi in freehold zones – an area, where the buyer is free to use the property and has a full right to it. This zone includes the following areas:

  • Reem Island — the business core of the capital, which is dominated by business centers. Residential real estate is represented by small studios, apartments up to four rooms, penthouses and townhouses. Buying real estate in this area is beneficial for living, renting and business development.
  • Yas Island — the main entertainment center of the whole country, with the largest shopping mall, water park, hosting tournaments and competitions. The buildings are mixed: restaurants, clubs, media zones and residential sector. Studios, large apartments and 5-6 bedroom villas are available for investors. Properties can be rented out or sold at a higher price in the future. According to the ValuStrat Price Index, housing prices in Abu Dhabi for the third quarter of 2021 increased by 2.6%.
  • Saadiyat Island — the cultural center of the capital, a luxury district. There are five-star hotels, restaurants, educational institutions and museums. On the island you can buy premium apartments with 1-4 bedrooms overlooking the sea and villas with 4 or more bedrooms. Property in the area is suitable for living and renting.
  • Ghantoot — This area of Abu Dhabi is located on the border with Dubai near the site of Expo 2020 (World Exhibition of Excellence in Architecture, Technology, Art, Music, etc.). There is a marina, a polo club and 30 kilometers of virgin nature. Buyers can invest in off-plan villas and studios, that is, properties that are still under construction. The area is actively being built, the real estate is suitable for renting or profitable sale in the future.
  • Al Mariya Island — financial center of the city with a mixed development (hotels, shopping mall, residential sector). The housing is represented by studios and apartments with 1-3 bedrooms. The residential and commercial properties purchased in the area are profitable to rent, as there are many companies, restaurants, kindergartens, schools and entertainment venues.
  • Marina Island — the district located next to the palace of the president of the country and the emir of the city. There is an amusement area, a shopping center and the Fairmont Marina Resort. Foreigners can buy villas with 4-5 bedrooms or apartments in the luxury Fairmont Marina Residences. One can live in their own apartment or rent it out.
  • Al Raha Beach — a new residential area of Abu Dhabi with prestigious educational institutions, restaurants, beaches and a large shopping center. Here you can buy a studio, an apartment, a penthouse or a villa. An investor can live in this resort area or invest in the construction of a hotel and receive income in the future.
  • Masdar City — an area of advanced technology and innovation, where people use mostly electric cars and the streets are kept at 15-20 degrees Celsius. There are educational institutions, stores, and parks. Apartments are the most popular housing options. Commercial real estate for business development is also profitable to buy in the area.
  • Nurai Island — an island inhabited by very wealthy individuals who value privacy. Nurai Island is only possible to get to by sea or by air. There are 11 hectares of white-sand beaches, elite restaurants, spa and five-star resort. People with ultra-high-net-worth can buy local real estate. Luxury villas with 4-6 bedrooms are available for purchase. The area is only suitable for those who want to live here.

Beach against the background of real estate in Abu Dhabi

Real estate prices in Abu Dhabi

According to a study of several popular real estate resources, the price per square meter of real estate on Reem Island is 2.5-4,000 USD. Approximately the same prices on Al Mariya Island, Al Raha Beach, Masdar City and Ghantoot. On Yas Island the price per square meter is 2-6,000 USD, on Saadiyat Island it is 3-6,000 USD. In Marina Island area the real estate is more expensive – 5000 USD per square meter. The most expensive, but the most attractive area is Nurai Island, where one square meter costs 5-9,000 USD.

How much is real estate in Abu Dhabi: an overview of the prices of apartments, houses and land

Type of property Area Price min., USD
Apartment, 1 bedroom Reem Island 168 800
Apartment, 2 bedrooms 204 200
Apartment, 3 bedrooms 408 400
Penthouse, 3 bedrooms 626 200
Apartment, 1 bedroom Yas Island 119 000
Apartment, 2 bedrooms 276 300
Apartment, 3 bedrooms 354 000
Penthouse, 2 bedrooms 1 170 700
Plot of land 269 500
Apartment, 1 bedroom Saadiyat Island 272 200
Apartment, 2 bedrooms 435 600
Apartment, 3 bedrooms 626 200
Penthouse, 5 bedrooms 5 948 900
Plot of land 496 900
Apartment, 1 bedroom Al Mariya Island 143 000
Apartment, 2 bedrooms 193 200
Penthouse, 6 bedrooms 1 464 000
Apartment, 2 bedrooms Marina Island 872 900
Apartment, 3 bedrooms 1 379 000
Apartment, 1 bedroom Masdar City 149 800
Apartment, 2 bedrooms 213 000
Townhouse, 3 bedrooms 517 000
Villa, 4 bedrooms Nurai Island 3 290 000
Villa, 5 bedrooms 12 300 000

The purchase procedure

The procedure for purchasing a commercial property or a house in Abu Dhabi consists of the following steps:

  1. Studying the real estate market, selecting an option. One can search by him/herself or contact a realtor. The services of a real estate agent are paid by the buyer (1-3% of the value of the property).
  2. Getting a sales license from the construction company. If the object is sold by the intermediary, he should ask the construction company permission to sell.
  3. Signing the contract of sale. The contract is drawn up by the seller or a real estate agency.
  4. Paying a deposit of 10% of the total price. To do this, the buyer, personally visiting Abu Dhabi, draw up a check and give it to the seller in the presence of an employee of the Land Department.
  5. Re-register the property in your name at the Land Department. When buying in the secondary market, you will also need to pay 2% of the purchase price for the title transfer registration fee. The transfer requires the passports of the buyer and the seller, the certificate of registration of the property, the sales permit and the contract of sale.

At the Land Department, the buyer may not be present in person, but can execute a notarized power of attorney for another person. At the time of registration of the new owner, the final settlement between the seller and the buyer takes place. If a proxy is involved in the transaction, he or she must hand over checks prepared in advance by the buyer to pay the remaining amount. Before the new registration certificate is issued, both parties make final calculations, and the seller signs a document stating that there are no claims for payment. This completes the process of buying a house, villa, commercial property, land or apartment in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi is a rapidly developing emirate, open to foreign investors. Buying property here is suitable for living, business development and renting, and as the value of the objects is increasing, in the future, the property can be sold for a good deal. The purchase provides the opportunity to obtain a residence visa (residence permit), through which you can come to the UAE at any time and bring your family to the country. Knowledge of the language, the local market and legislation are the key to a good deal. Therefore, it is worth asking for help from migration specialists who can help you buy liquid real estate quickly and without much effort.

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