International property investors have been buying property in Dubai for the past few years in ever greater numbers.

The emirate has been the primary focus of the attention, but there are certainly other destinations in the region that are worth considering. 

Dubai property market overview

  • Bright commercial and tourism prospects in many nations in the region
  • Amazing choice of sometimes extraordinary property developments, and Dubai property prices are generally much cheaper than in Britain and western Europe
  • There are some restrictions to buying Dubai property though some of these are being relaxed
  • High cost of living and high rents, but little or no income tax and low crime
  • Year-round climate, though it can be extremely hot in summer

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The United Arab Emirates is a federation of seven states, Dubai being perhaps the best known, though Abu Dhabi, Ras al-Khaimah and Ajman have started to follow their neighbours lead in providing property that appeals to overseas buyers.

Countries such as Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Qatar have been best known in the past as rather somewhat obscure commercial and industrial postings for expat Europeans. However, by freeing up some of the restrictions on foreign ownership of land and property, encouraging property development and promoting tourism, these nations have become much more interesting for anyone looking to buy a Dubai property as a holiday home or an investment. Increasing demand and a shortage of supply of newproperties has increased rental yields, which makes the region even more of an investors hotspot. 

Choice of property in Dubai

It sometimes seems that nothing is impossible when it comes to Dubai property. In a bid to attract overseas investment, architects and construction companies have been allowed enormous freedom in creating their property developments. Some of the most audacious construction projects the world has seen have been undertaken in this region. Even if these headline-grabbing properties are not to your taste or budget, there are plenty of high quality homes to choose from.

The vast majority of property buyers will be looking for new or off-plan Dubai property. Though there are traditional Dubai properties for sale, there are a number of countries where foreign ownership is restricted to designated areas, invariably the new projects that have been taking shape over the past few years. However, as more schemes are completed, there will be an increasing number of modern re-sale properties in Dubai and the Middle East. Investors looking to cash in on their property might well be prepared to negotiate on price with buyers.

It is difficult to exaggerate the scale of construction and the sheer variety of Dubai properties that this is creating. Small apartments, luxurious penthouses, spacious villas overlooking perfectly manicured golf courses, waterfront properties on a vast marina, beachfront property - the list goes on. There is a dazzling selection of property styles too, from designs based on tradition Arab architecture to Mediterranean-style villas and cutting edge high rise blocks, via everything in between.

The Dubai property you buy will depend a great deal on your reason for buying. Pure property investors should consider how the location and facilities offered by a property will appeal to potential tenants with an objective mind. Property buyers looking for a holiday property in Dubai will make a much more personal choice about the type of property they want. Whatever your requirements, Dubai offers an abundance of property styles that few other regions can match.

The process of buying property in Dubai

  • Buying Dubai property is now much easier than it once was, thanks to the law allowing foreigners to own freehold property.
  • To buy a newly-built home off-plan (which most available Dubai property currently is), the process is easy. The property buyer reserves a unit and pays an initial deposit - usually 10 per cent.
  • The remaining balance is paid in stages until the completion date. This varies depending on the developer and should be agreed at the start of the deal.
  • For re-sale property, once you have found a property, a holding deposit is paid until funds are in place to carry out the exchange.
  • Bear in mind that although Dubai is tax free, you may find that you are required to pay taxes in Britain. Get a professional to guide you carefully through each step to make sure you know exactly where you stand

Fees and taxes

  • For newly-built homes, expect land registration fees of around 2 per cent, and a year's upfront maintenance charges, which vary depending on the development.
  • If buying a re-sale property, all the charges of a newly-built property, plus a 1 per cent to 2 per cent transfer fee, depending on whether the property is complete.
  • Allow between 2 per cent and 5 per cent for agents fees.
  • While a lawyer is not legally required when buying property in Dubai, it is nevertheless always recommendable.

Key facts

  • Population: 1,530,000
  • Capital: Dubai city
  • Languages: Arabic, English, Hindi
  • Area (sq km): 4,114
  • Currency: dirham (AED)
  • Dialling Code: +971
  • Emergency services: 999


The standard of healthcare in Dubai is generally quite high. However, the emergency services are not as efficient as they are in Britain, and those requiring specialised treatment may find that they need to travel out of the emirate. Special care needs to be taken to avoid dehydration and those with respiratory problems need to be aware of the dry, dusty air. Foreigners can use public hospitals provided they have a valid health card from the UAE Ministry of Health, but many still prefer to go private.


Flying to Dubai is easier than ever, thanks to a wide selection of airlines such as BA, Saudi Arabian Airlines and Emirates servicing the airport. Direct flights from Britain take around seven hours.

Visas and residency

Anyone in possession of a valid British passport can stay in Dubai for up to 30 days without needing a visa. This can often be extended up to 90 days on request. Owning a property entitles you to become a Dubai resident, if you wish, but you will still have to go through the application process, which is relatively straightforward.

Buying property in Dubai - top tip

Dubai has suffered slightly from a reputation for having shoddy building standards. While this doesn't apply to a large proportion of properties, it's definitely worth the peace of mind gained by having a full survey carried out by an independent professional.

Some information contained herein may have changed since it was first published. HomesOverseas strongly advises you to seek current legal and/or financial advice from a qualified professional.

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