DUBAI, (Reuters) – Expatriate property owners in the United Arab Emirates will be granted multiple entry visit visas enabling them to stay six months at a time, the Gulf state said in a decree issued on Saturday.
Home buyers had been waiting for legislation for years to clarify their residency rights in the second-largest Arab economy after many of the country’s seven emirates allowed foreign investment in property in recent years.
Some developers in Dubai, currently suffering from a sharp drop in real estate prices, had been offering foreign property buyers promises of residency visas if they bought properties.
“Owners of built-up properties can stay for six months from the date of entry into the country,” the official WAM news agency reported late on Saturday, citing a decree issued by UAE Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif bin Zayed al-Nahayan.
“On the expiry of this period, the owner pledges to depart for his homeland or any of the GCC countries. He will only be allowed to enter the country again after meeting the required conditions,” the decree said.
Among the conditions is a requirement that the residential unit should be wholly owned and built, worth a minimum of 1 million dirhams ($272,300), and fit for the accommodation of a family.
The owner should have a fixed income of no less than 10,000 dirhams a month, or the equivalent in foreign currency. The visit visa does not give the owner the right to work in the UAE, the decree said.
“Greater clarity regarding visa and ownership rights of property owners would help to increase transparency and hence confidence in the market, perhaps providing a positive trigger for demand,” investment bank EFG-Hermes said in a research note.
Real estate prices in Dubai tumbled 41 percent in the first three months of 2009, according to property consultants Colliers. The property sector slowdown has led to project cancellations worth billions of dollars.