Dubai Government Doubles Down In Attracting Onshore, Offshore Wealth

Tom Burroughes Group Editor London 1 February 2023

Dubai Government Doubles Down In Attracting Onshore, Offshore Wealth

Can you talk a bit about the Dubai/UAE approach to international visas, the registration of yachts, aircraft, etc, to encourage wealthy families and individuals to set up in the area.
Changes to the UAE’s residency visa schemes have clearly strengthened Dubai’s appeal as a preferred city for businesses, investors, entrepreneurs and talent. The long-term golden visa residency scheme introduced in 2019 was met with a tremendous response from HNW individuals, investors and specialised talent from around the world. Since then, it has been reported by the Dubai's General Directorate of Residency and Foreigners Affairs that Dubai alone has issued more than 150,000 golden visas.

As a second-home for HNW individuals, Dubai continues to invest in its world-class luxury offerings and infrastructure. The Emirate is home to state-of-the-art facilities for yacht owners, and 15 luxury marinas with more than 3,000 berths to be exact, as well as a picturesque coastline, making it a leading marine leisure destination offering the highest standards. 

Private jet travel has also really taken off in Dubai over the last decade due to the growing number of HNW individuals living in the Emirate with major events such as Expo 2020 Dubai and the 2022 World Cup boosting overall industry demand. This trend has led industry player Jetex to expand its fleets and facilities at airport terminals and provide world-class support and on-demand services to aircraft owners and operators, while other industry players like Vista Jet are changing the dynamics of private jet charter in the region and meeting growing demand. 

Dubai’s real estate market has been volatile at times, and the jurisdiction is not a Western-style liberal democracy, at least not yet. Does that ever come up in conversations with families and business owners as a potential problem? 
Dubai’s appeal and reputation as a preferred market for HNW individuals and investors has not changed over the years, even in the face of market volatility, global challenges and uncertainty. The Emirate’s property market remains a major selling point for foreign investors due its ability to maintain high property values and rental yields supported by strong demand and a steady pipeline. 

In 2021, 38,318 foreign investors made 51,553 new investments worth over $26.9 billion in Dubai real estate, according to the Dubai Land Department, while foreign investors accounted for nearly 60 per cent of total investors in the Emirate’s property market. For buyers, Dubai offers strong value for money compared with other big cities around the world. According to UBS, of 25 major cities surveyed worldwide, Dubai’s property market was the only one that it deemed undervalued in 2021. The market is now only back to its 2019 price level, and is still 25 per cent below its 2014 peak.

Dubai has continued to enhance its regulatory environment and mechanisms to ensure that the property market remains balanced and competitive. The introduction of new laws, reporting requirements for property transactions, sector indices and tighter rules for off-plan sales, and higher loan to value ratio (LTVs) in mortgages have all decreased the level of leverage and risks in real estate.

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) in Dubai offers a smart and transparent legal framework and protection for investors, landlords and tenants through RERA contracts and escrow accounts. In addition, the ease of purchasing properties and efficient processing times in Dubai, have instilled global confidence in the real estate market. 

Given all of these strengths and advantages, it comes as no surprise that Dubai’s real estate market continues to perform well and attract strong demand. A recent report from UBS stated that surging oil prices and a pick-up in immigration revived Dubai’s property market in 2021. The report noted that property values in the Emirate have risen by 10 per cent between mid-2021 and mid-2022,  and rental values have outpaced the growth in home prices over the same period. 

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