Laws and regulations introduced under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, have transformed the emirate into a more mature market and global real estate destination.
"The vision and leadership of Sheikh Mohammed has positioned Dubai as a global city and one of the most renowned business hubs in a record time. His Highness focused on attracting international investors and building a world-class infrastructure which made Dubai, as we know it today, the location of choice for residents, businesses and visitors," said Mohanad Alwadiya, Managing Director, Harbor Real Estate.
When it comes to real estate, Dubai set a new global benchmark and has introduced iconic projects to the world that covered all kinds of asset types and interests including the Dubai Media City, Dubai Internet City, Knowledge Village, Burj Al Arab, Emirates Towers, Dubai Marina, Business Bay, Dubai Festival City, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Downtown Burj Dubai, Emirates Living, Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC), Burj Dubai and the Palm Trilogy.
Sheikh Mohammed's vision did not start with the real estate developments, he ensured establishing the suitable infrastructure to support the real estate boom and its sustainability. The development of the Dubai Ports Authority, the introduction of Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and industrial and specialised business zones have contributed to setting Dubai up to become one of the main trading, tourism and culturally rich cities of the world, he added.
Dubai, under Sheikh Mohammed, became the first city in the Gulf Co-operation Council to introduce a real estate regulatory body under the auspices of the Land Department.
The Land Department has continuously strived to keep up with the development and prosperity of the emirate. Through the leadership of Sheikh Mohammed, who always strives to be the best and definitely world-class in everything he plans, guiding with an extraordinary skill, passion and intelligence, the "vision of Dubai" has become the world's most incredible reality and yet still, there is even more to come.
Supported by Sheikh Mohammed, the Land Department is planning and implementing services to participate towards making Dubai the leading city of the world, the Department said on its website.
The Government of Dubai instituted new rules, regulations and laws in the emirate to regulate the market, to protect the rights and interests of consumers, and to ensure Dubai property investors are assured the highest possible service standards from real estate agents, brokers and property developers transacting business in Dubai and maintain the integrity of all the developments.
The Department launched a number of laws and regulations that regulate the property sector. Starting with Law No7 concerning land registration in Dubai, Law No3 concerning areas of properties that can be owned by non-UAE nationals in Dubai, Law No8 concerning property trust account in Dubai, Law No 85 concerning real ease agent regulation and the upcoming strata law.
Alwadiya said: "The young Dubai property market has come a long way with regards to regulating the real estate industry. While the efforts to protect rights, lift standards of professionalism and establish a transparent, credible and functional framework are to be applauded, there is still a long way to go before the industry can be said to be in the final stages of maturation.
"Over the past years, the government has adopted numerous legislations and regulations to protect everyone in the real estate sector, and most importantly establish a safe environment for investors. Dubai has proven to be the world's greatest improver in terms of real estate transparency over the past two years. With the establishment of regulatory bodies such as Rera, investor representative bodies, the establishment of codes of practice for real estate practitioners combined with laws relating to freehold ownership, escrow accounts and strata titling, Dubai has reduced drastically the concerns of expatriate and foreign investors," he added.
Transparency has also been given a boost with the introduction of the credit information law, a positive step towards transparency and risk mitigation for banks. The law will create a framework of rights and obligations for data providers, information users and individuals alike, Alwadiya said.
Saeed Mirsaeedi, Investment Manager of Sherwoods Real Estate, said: "Introduction of new laws has been a positive development and has helped Dubai's emergence as a mature and prosperous economy.
"Clear-cut regulations and increasing transparency make Dubai property most attractive to overseas investors," he said.
Although previously non-Gulf Co-operation Council expatriates were only permitted to rent property, or own property on a 99-year leasehold basis, all changed in 2002 when the Dubai Government took the initiative and permitted the ownership of freehold property to expatriates. This bold initiative changed the perception of the real estate industry in the Middle East and the Gulf.
The Dubai Government began the promotion in 1997 by setting up Emaar Properties. The next year, Emaar began work on Dubai Marina followed by the Emirates Living Community developments such as the Springs, the Meadows, Emirates Hills, etc. However, the major property boom in Dubai occurred in May 2002, when Sheikh Mohammed issued a decree to allow foreigners to buy and own freehold property in selected areas of the city, now referred to as New Dubai.
On March 14, 2006, Dubai's Government issued a law legalising foreign ownership of properties in designated areas of Dubai.
"It was the adoption of freehold tenure in general, and foreign ownership in particular, that sparked the great real estate boom in the Dubai property market," said Alwadiya.
The introduction of the freehold law by the Ruler transformed Dubai into a true success story capturing the imagination and admiration of countries worldwide. Many countries followed the Dubai model and benefited greatly from its visionary experience.
Dubai has developed several iconic real estate projects, which have acquired international recognition, marketing the emirate as a destination of choice for business and travel and for investment in real estate.
The Palm trilogy and other iconic projects such as The World have put Dubai in international limelight. Furthermore, prospective developments of creative concepts, which are likely to attract significant visitors in the coming years, continue to take shape. Burj Dubai, the tallest tower in the world, will be opens today. Although Dubai International Financial Centre formally opened as a global financial centre in 2004 with the aim to become the global hub for financial services in the Middle East, it has also emerged as one of the most expensive addresses for real estate in the emirate.
In fact, property prices on residential units in the DIFC are becoming increasingly comparable with the leading capitals of the world. Dubai's real estate industry dynamics are firmly entrenched in Dubai Strategic Plan, which strives to achieve a medium-long term objective of diversifying the economic base of the emirate in key growth areas, which have been defined as priority sectors within the associated blue print. Of particular significance is the focus of the plan on the real estate development and the construction sector, as well as travel and tourism, with the former providing necessary infrastructure for growth of all other businesses, and the latter ensuring sustained economic buoyancy through continuous and aggressive growth in visitors to the emirate.
The investor-friendly business environment in Dubai has promoted not only businesses but also a demand for office space, and the high real incomes have ensured that the labour force is increasingly imported from abroad, thus catalysing requirements for housing and retail.
Dubai has introduced some of the most iconic destinations that cater for different lifestyles and asset categories. Some of them in the business and commerce segment are the DIFC, Business Bay, Dubai Internet City, Dubai Media City, Knowledge Village, Dubai Silicon Oasis, Dubai Maritime City, Tecom, Jebel Ali Free Zone and Dubai Healthcare City.
In entertainment, lifestyle and culture segment falls the Dubai Festival City, Downtown Burj Dubai, Emirates Living, Dubai Mall, Ibn Battuta Mall, Palm Jumeirah, Burj Dubai and Dubai Marina.
Keep up with the latest business news from the region with the Emirates Business 24|7 daily newsletter. To subscribe to the newsletter, please click here.