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Visitors at the Aldar pavilion during the recently concluded Cityscape Abu Dhabi exhibition. Under the legislative changes, land and residential units in designated investment zones can be registered under Abu Dhabi’s freehold law. Image Credit: Ahmed Kutty/Gulf News

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi’s new law allowing foreigners to buy plots in select zones could push up freehold investments by as much as 40-50 per cent this year, according to top industry sources.

Under the new rules, freehold registration fees will be 2 per cent of the price of each unit, compared with 4 per cent leasehold.

Earlier, ownership of land was only permitted to citizens of the UAE and GCC countries. Under the legislative changes, land and residential units in designated investment zones can be registered under Abu Dhabi’s freehold law, with property ownership deeds issued to investors. Foreign investors in were only allowed leasehold arrangements for a maximum of 99 years.

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Freehold registration fees under the new rules in Abu Dhabi

“The new rules will not only drive the maturity of Abu Dhabi’s property market, but increase transparency and provide clarity of title for property owners, increasing long-term investment and injecting more liquidity, and encouraging longer term residency,” said Talal Al Dhiyebi, Aldar Properties’ chief executive. “Indian and Chinese investors are targets for the UAE.”

On Wednesday, Abu Dhabi issued a Decree that allowed freehold rights on land for individual investors of foreign origin and foreign-owned businesses in investment zones. There are as of now up to 30 such zones designated as such. Public-listed companies with up to 49 foreign ownership can also own land and build in the emirate.

That apart, it also allows “Foreign owners to put land on mortgage, sell it, inherit it and enjoy the full rights that come with free and full ownership,” said Falah Mohammad Al Ahbabi, chairman of the Urban Planning and Municipalities Department.

According to Jassim Al Siddiqi at the developer Imkan, “What’s important to me is that the law allows listed companies to buy land anywhere in Abu Dhabi. This is positive not only for individual foreign investors but also to local listed companies.”