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February 1, 2023

Owning Dubai Property Through a Holding Company

Owning Dubai Property Through a Holding Company

As Dubai continues to grow and develop, the real estate market has seen a flurry of activity and a boom that is expected to continue throughout 2023.

With the influx of new residents, businesses, and tourists, the demand for property is expected to rise. Additionally, the government has put in place various incentives and development plans that are expected to further stimulate the market.

We often receive enquiries from clients asking if a company can buy property in dubai and how they can set up a property holding company for their Dubai real estate investments.

Can any company own real estate in Dubai?

Whilst companies incorporated in jurisdictions such as the Cayman Islands, British Virgin Islands, or the Crown Dependencies are often used as holding companies for property located elsewhere, they are unable to directly hold UAE real estate assets.

Dubai property must be owned through a holding company registered in one of three approved zones, namely Dubai International Finance Centre (DIFC), Jebel Ali Free Zone (JAFZA), or Ras Al Khaimah International Corporate Centre (RAKICC).

Most property investors tend to have a preference for DIFC or RAKICC due to their common law legislation allowing for different share classes and access to the DIFC common law courts.

Benefits of Using a Holding Company to Own Property in Dubai

Using a holding company to own property in Dubai can be beneficial for a number of reasons:

  1. Tax Advantages: If incorporated in one of the designated zones, the company can benefit from corporation tax exemptions.
  2. Privacy: With the holding company as the legal owner, its name will be included on the title deed and in future transactions protecting the beneficial owners privacy.
  3. Asset Protection, Inheritance & Estate Planning: A UAE holding company can be combined with broader asset protection and estate planning structures including trusts and foundations whether set up in the UAE or elsewhere.

    It is common place for existing Trust structures in jurisdictions like Jersey, Guernsey or the British Virgin Islands to establish a UAE holding company for keeping real estate investments within the structure.

  4. Portfolio Management: A holding company can provide an efficient and cost-effective way to manage a portfolio of property investments in Dubai. This may
  5. Limited Liability: A holding company can help protect your personal assets from business risks.
  6. 100% Foreign Ownership – As the holding company will be incorporated in one of the designated zones, 100% foreign ownership is permitted. Note however that if the beneficial owners are not UAE or GCC nationals the company will still only be permitted to purchase freehold property as they would in their personal names.

How do i set up a holding company for UAE real estate?

As your Corporate Services Partner in the United Arab Emirates, Cavenwell can assist in helping select the correct jurisdiction for your property holding company.

We can also incorporate the company for you, provide registered office services and assist with meeting corporate governance requirements including company secretarial and local UAE resident director services.

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Share your profile and requirements with our experts and let's get to work together.