Property Alert: Abu Dhabi real estate law amended for foreigners

By Sheena Amos

UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan

ABU DHABI 18 April 2019: In his capacity as Ruler of Abu Dhabi, UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has issued a law amending provisions of Law No. 19 of 2005 concerning real estate sector in Abu Dhabi.

The new law stipulates amendments to Articles 3 and 4 of the ‘Real Property Law’.

Who Can Own Property: Article 3 (i) stipulates the rights to own property are limited to three categories the first being Emirati citizens, natural or legal persons, the second includes public holding companies with ownership not exceeding 49% non-nationals, or the third as any person to whom a decision is issued by the Abu Dhabi Crown Prince or the President of the Executive Council. While Article 3 (ii) stipulates that non-UAE nationals, natural or legal persons, shall have the right to own and acquire all original and in-kind rights in real estate properties located within investment areas.

Usufruct: As for Article 4, the amendment stipulates that the holders of a ‘usufruct’ or ‘musataha’ for more than ten years shall have the right, without the consent of the landlord to dispose of the property, including the right of mortgage, however the landlord may not mortgage the property except with the consent of the usufruct or musataha holder. In both cases, the parties may agree otherwise.

His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, directed Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Executive Committee and Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, to review the emirate’s real estate sector development in line with international trends and standards.

The Abu Dhabi Executive Committee raised a proposal to update the Real Property Law, following a study on the emirate’s real estate sector, and the holding of a series of meetings with stakeholders, investors and real estate developers, to identify means to develop the sector, and consolidate the status of Abu Dhabi as an investment destination.

Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed noted that the amendments will have a positive effect on the real estate sector, and will encourage investors to acquire land in designated investment zones within the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, with ample room for development opportunities.