Residency changes could open the floodgates to UAE's property sector, say experts

Amendments could affect residency regulations for retirees

Changes to Abu Dhabi's residency laws could encourage older residents to invest in property. Delores Johnson / The National
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Upcoming changes to the UAE's residency regulations could open the floodgates to the country's property sector, experts have said.

The UAE Cabinet on Sunday night made number of amendments to the current residency laws public.

The changes include:

- offering residency visas of up to 10-years for key professional workers including doctors and engineers and their families

- offering residency visas of up to 10-years for foreign investors establishing businesses in the country

- and allowing companies to own 100 per cent of their business in the UAE. At present they must offer an Emirati partner a substantial stake.

- top students graduating from university will also have options to reside in the Emirates

Mario Volpi, the sales and leasing manager at Engel & Volkers, said the roll out of residency visas to long-term residents and potentially retirees would be a game changer.

“The grey dollar, for want of a better word, is a market that is definitely untapped here,” said Mr Volpi.

“It would be a catalyst. It would open up the floodgates I think. Maybe not totally straight away, but definitely it’s a very good plus point.”

Ben Crompton, managing partner of Crompton Partners Abu Dhabi, said the UAE currently attracts more young professionals, proportionally. But new regulations could change that.

“A lot of people come here during their best working years to save up, because they have always known that they need to go back home to retire. So it might bring in older families, couples and professionals because they know it’s not going to be a two or three-year stint,” said Mr Crompton.

“They can work here for a longer period and then retire here as well. It might actually change the population demographics of the UAE to a slightly more older, better educated group of people.”


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However, many questions about the possible changes to Abu Dhabi’s residency remain, said Mr Volpi.

“I guess I would just caution, to what form does the visa take place? What are the parameters? What’s the entry level? What would you have to do to get it?” he said.

The renewal frequency and fees will also have to be taken into consideration.

But overall, it is likely to positive — particularly in terms of the creating demand as there is currently a lack, they said.

“If the UAE is now opening its doors effectively to what I term the grey dollar I think with the inventory we have, as agents, which is a lot, and with more coming on a daily basis, I think it would be a good way of absorbing or counter balancing the supply and demand scenario,” said Mr Volpi.

“For me, bring it on. I would be very happy.”