Buying Property in Dubai

What to expect from the property purchase process in Dubai...

When it comes to buying property it is probably easier to think of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) not as a country, which it is, but as a Federation of seven different emirates, which it also is.

The reason for this is that each of the emirates does things in a slightly different way, particularly when it comes to real estate. Each emirate has its own regulations and procedures in place in relation to property ownership in their geographical area. Some of the emirates, for example, do not currently have specific laws relating to ownership of property by foreigners.

Dubai is one of the emirates of the UAE that does allow foreigners to buy property and has done so since they introduced the law in 2006. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean that you can buy property anywhere within Dubai.You can only buy within certain designated areas unless you are a national of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) member state, in which case you are allowed to buy freehold property anywhere within the Emirates.

The rest of this page talks about the process of buying in Dubai itself rather than the UAE in general or any of the other emirates.

As you can imagine the system of transferring property in Dubai is often very different to that in your home country. That is not to say that the system is any worse, it is just that it is different. What you are trying to achieve is exactly the same as in your home country. You wish to buy the property in your name, free of charges, get the property registered in your name and make sure that you only part with any money when it is safe to do so and the contract is suitable for you. Because of the differences it is vital that you use an independent lawyer to assist you with the purchase process as they will guide you, assist you and protect you through the buying process.

A contract (Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, or Sale and Purchase Agreement , SPA, depending upon the nature of the property) needs to be drafted which sets out the conditions of the purchase including the price, stage payments, what is being bought, what is included, timings and so on. You need to be very careful with regards to these conditions and should consult a lawyer before finalising, in order to protect your future interests. Once the contract has been agreed and the searches come back positive then the contract is signed and a No Objection Certificate (NOC) is applied for.

Just like in any country your lawyer should carry out checks on the property before they advise you whether it is safe to proceed with the purchase. They should make sure that the seller owns the property and the property is free of charges, mortgages, tenants and so on. If the property is being built they need to check that it has planning permission. They should make sure that the development is registered with the Dubai Land Department and that any deposit will be paid into an escrow bank account according to applicable law. They should check that the broker is registered with the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) and that they have the authority to sell on behalf of the seller.

The next stage would be to proceed to the Dubai Land Department to register the transfer of the property. At this stage the balance of the purchase price is paid.


One thing that you do need to take into consideration when buying property in Dubai is that the inheritance rules can be very different to that which you are used to as Shariah Law applies. As such it is vital that you take advice on this during the buying process. Inheritance rules and how to make sure that the correct people will inherit from you will be the subject of a future page so stay tuned.

Angloinfo Edit: See homes for sale at Angloinfo Property Dubai

Written by Peter Esders and Ashraf Motei of Judicare 3a The Grange, 3 Codicote Road, Welwyn, Herts, AL6 9LY Tel: +44 1438 840258 / Website / email Copyright © 2015 Peter Esders and Ashraf Motei All Rights Reserved