Now you can buy land in Abu Dhabi

Foreign property seekers previously restricted to 99-year leasehold terms in the emirate, unlike Dubai

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates. Marianna Ianovska/Shutterstock

In a historic move, the Abu Dhabi government is allowing foreign buyers to buy land in 30 designated areas around the emirate, Bloomberg is reporting.

The loosening of foreign ownership restrictions will mitigate the housing market downturn in the emirate, which has been driven by slumping oil prices and a weak dirham relative to a strong US dollar, to which it is pegged.

Foreign owners of such plots will be able to mortgage, sell, and inherit it, clarified Falah Al Ahbabi, director general of the Abu Dhabi’s Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, in a press statement.

The move marks a departure from the emirate’s earlier policy restricting foreign land seekers to a 99-year lease of the land.

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Granted, Abu Dhabi had long permitted citizens of other Gulf Cooperation Council countries to purchase land in the emirate. Neighbouring Dubai has also enabled foreigners to buy land since 2002.

While the change is a positive step, it’s unlikely to have significant impact on demand immediately, Craig Plumb, head of Middle East research at Jones Lang LaSalle, told Bloomberg.

On the other hand, the measure could give a boost to sales in the emirate, by at least 40 percent year-on-year, predicted Talal Al Dhiyebi, CEO of developer Aldar Properties.