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Abu Dhabi opens up freehold land and property to foreign buyers

Dubai

ABU DHABI will now allow all foreigners to own land and property in investment areas on a freehold basis, after having made changes to its real estate law, state news agency WAM reported on Wednesday.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital previously limited ownership largely to Emiratis and citizens of the Gulf Cooperation Council states.

Residential units in investment areas will now be registered under Abu Dhabi's freehold law, said Abu Dhabi real estate firm Aldar Properties, citing a government statement. Previously, foreign investors in Abu Dhabi were largely restricted to 99-year leases, it said.

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Aldar chief executive Talal Al Dhiyebi said: "This will not only further drive the maturity of Abu Dhabi's real estate market, but will also increase transparency and provide clarity of title for property owners, increase long-term investment, inject more liquidity into the market and encourage longer-term residency."

Aldar said on Wednesday that a residential project on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island, where land and property can be sold to anyone, had sold out and generated over 400 million dirhams (S$147.6 million) in sales.

The oil-rich emirate's revenues have been hit in recent years by lower oil prices, with the government now focusing on diversifying its economy into other sectors such as tourism.

Abu Dhabi property prices fell by 6.4 per cent in the fourth quarter compared to the corresponding period, the Central Bank said in a report. REUTERS