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UAE Property Ownership for Expatriate

An expatriate is a person who leaves their native country to seek residence in another. Over the past two decades, the UAE has been a hotspot for expatriates, currently having an approximate population of about 8 million expats. Many come to the region either for work or for luxurious holidays.

Property Ownership Options for Expatriates in the UAE

There are two types of property ownership options for expatriates in the UAE namely, Leasehold and Freehold property ownership.

  • Leasehold property ownership allows the buyer to own a property for a maximum of 99 years or less, as indicated in the agreement. Under this kind of request, the property gives the buyer full ownership and rights over the property’s structure but not the property itself.
  • Freehold property ownership, on the other hand, sees to it that the expatriate gets full ownership of both the built structure and the property/land. However, it is essential to note that expatriates in the UAE are not allowed to have freehold property ownership in certain regions. Expatriates who purchase property in the emirates are not under tax obligations. However, they should consider taxation laws applicable in their country for owning property in a foreign country.

The emirates have some of the most favorable property ownership and inheritance laws for residents and expatriates. It is the main reason why many expatriates in the UAE own inherited property. The law closely monitors the process of acquiring property in the UAE through purchase or inheritance. Expatriate property Inheritance laws in the United Emirates slightly differ from the customary inheritance laws.

Laws Appertaining Inheritance in the UAE

Inheritance involves the succession of a deceased person’s assets and estates. In the UAE, this has always been a contentious and controversial topic that has caused a lot of feuds. Being an Islamic State, the UAE is governed by Sharia Law. This means that Sharia laws apply to all (Muslims and non-Muslims/citizens and expatriates).

Inheritance falls under the personal status law which also deals with child custody issues, divorce, and marriage. Although these laws are meant explicitly for Muslim citizens, their application is usually generalized to all.

The Sharia Law dictates that the legitimate family and relatives of the deceased can become beneficiaries from his estates. Direct families, especially from the paternal side, are considered possible beneficiaries. UAEs’ judicial system decides the heirs of a given estate via witness testimony and the authenticated documents presented.

How a property lawyer in UAE can help

Inheritance Laws for Expatriates

The UAE has also formulated specific inheritance laws for non-Muslim expatriates. Sharia Law has been used as the main guide in the formulation of these laws and regulations. According to the law of inheritance for expatriates in UAE, the government takes full charge of all property belonging to a deceased expatriate with no successors.

The federal law in the UAE is concerned with applying Personal Status Law to all UAE residence except for non-Muslim foreigners and non-Muslim residents. That is because the inheritance law for expatriates in the UAE allows for non-Muslims to request for their rules (with regards to country or religion) to be applied during an inheritance proceeding or preparation of a will. Nevertheless, non-Muslims can alternatively request for international inheritance laws to apply.


According to the immigration department of the united emirates, thousands of expatriates relocate to the emirates because of the excellent living and economic conditions. It does not however mean that buying a property in the UAE is a simple process.

Need to Buy a Property as an Expatriate? 

Different Free Zones may have different rules when it pertains to property ownership. So if you are intending to buy a property in the UAE and if You need legal help our Property lawyers in Dubai can help you. We can give you all the assistance you need to get the purchase done with minimal fuss.

If you have any questions feel free to call to make a booking with us today for an initial consultation.

Hazim Darwish

Hazim Darwish, is a Senior Partner of HHS Lawyers in UAE. Practicing law for almost a decade, he has in-depth knowledge on UAE legislation with particular expertise on legal drafting, contract drafting, labor disputes, family law, and regulatory compliance for business organizations. Hazim Darwish also provides counsel on legal rights and obligations in the UAE to clients, including individuals and businesses subject to investigation or prosecution under Criminal Law by major regulators.