Jerry Parks


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Jerry Parks


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28 September 2022

Dubai emerging as hotspot among Indian high-net-worth individuals

  • Briefing

The UAE is the wealthiest nation in the MENA region, and Dubai is its richest city - that’s according to recent data compiled by New World Wealth.

The city is known for its favourable tax status, modern infrastructure, stable economy, inclusive lifestyle, and world-class tourism. It’s also increasingly establishing itself as an attractive destination for overseas investors, particularly for Indian high-net-worth individuals. 

Non-resident Indians make up a significant proportion of the investors in Dubai residential properties in upmarket areas such as Emirates Hills, The Palm, Arabian Ranches, Al Barari and Mohamed Bin Rashid City. 

There are a number of factors that contribute to the popularity of Dubai with Indian investors, including:  

  • Return on investment - residential real estate in India generates a return on investment in the region of 2-3%, whereas the average return in Dubai is c.5-6% pa.
  • Mortgage finance - mortgage finance for Dubai property purchases can be based on income in India.
  • Currency - the dirham (AED) getting stronger relative to the Indian rupee (INR) year on year by approximately 3-4% giving a de facto appreciation when compared with similar Indian investments.
  • Repatriation - the Indian government and Reserve Bank of India currently allow individuals to repatriate funds of USD 250,000 (approximately AED 900,000) per year.
  • Taxation - Investors that hold Non-Resident Indian (NRI) status (usually supported by staying out of the country for more than 240 days per year or by being legal residents of another country) are exempt from paying income tax in India on their global income.

Residential property prices in Dubai, though on a rising trajectory in recent months, are still regarded low when compared with several other popular overseas cities. Looking at prime real estate in Dubai, USD 1 million will buy you c.130 square meters of space. Compare that with 29 square meters in London, 22 square meters in Hong Kong and 30 square meters in New York.

Consider also transactional fees. The transfer fee payable to the Dubai Land Department is currently set at a flat rate of 4%. By comparison, non-UK resident buyers purchasing a second UK property valued at GBP 1.5m or more could be facing a stamp duty levy of up to 17%.  

Aside from hard economics, there are also soft factors at play. Dubai’s widely applauded handling of the Covid-19 pandemic has been held up by many as an example of the benefits of living in a country with strong leadership and the infrastructure and resources necessary to support decisive civic action. Geographical proximity to major Indian cities such as Delhi and Mumbai makes it an ideal location for a primary or secondary residence. Its unrivalled connectivity makes the UAE an obvious base from which to travel and do business with the rest of the world. And favourable government measures for visa eligibility, including the introduction of long-term property investor visas, encourage investors to think of the city as a home, rather than just an investment opportunity.  

Legal factors to consider before property purchase in Dubai

Most investors wouldn’t think of purchasing a property in their home country without legal support. We would encourage investors in the Dubai real estate market to think in the same way. Whenever acquiring an asset of relatively high value, as real estate tends to be, we would recommend retaining a locally based lawyer experienced in the field of UAE real estate. 

Our Dubai real estate team can help with the following:

  • Due diligence on legal title to the property – ensuring the seller is entitled to sell what he is purporting to sell.
  • Due diligence on the parties – checking if any of the parties are the subject of sanctions and therefore if any payments will fall foul of local or international regulations, exposing you to scrutiny.
  • Structuring – advising on structuring options having regard to your priorities, including the use of Foundations.
  • Representation by POA – acting as a trusted adviser to sign documentation and oversee the transaction, from viewing to completion and beyond.
  • Funds – receiving and paying out funds from our regulated client account, particularly where you may not have access to local banking facilities.
  • Succession – advising on the availability of succession planning solutions, including DIFC Wills. 

If you are looking to purchase a property in the UAE, whether residential or commercial, our Wessing’s Dubai office is here to help.

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