Fujairah to allow expat property ownership

Fujairah will shortly allow expatriates to own property in the emirate for the first time. The move, forming part of the sheikhdom’s effort to attract more investors and tourists, will see long-term leases offered to non-UAE citizens in specific developments.

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By  Richard Agnew Published  October 9, 2005

The move, forming part of the sheikhdom’s effort to attract more investors and tourists, will see long-term leases offered to non-UAE citizens in specific developments. According to a senior government official, the first opportunity for foreign ownership will be announced in the next few weeks — when the authorities agree a deal on a new project to be set up with a private developer. “There will be 99 year [leases] for foreign people. It will be the first project like this,” said Mohamed Saeed Al Dhanhani, Emiri court director, Fujairah. The decision is expected to help increase interest from regional and international developers in the eastern UAE emirate, which is aiming to promote itself as a winter holiday destination and one of the world’s must-do dive experiences. It also follows decisions by other emirates in the UAE to allow foreign ownership of property. Abu Dhabi made the move in August, and Dubai in 2002. “Providing its developments are in keeping with the overall appeal of Fujairah — its Indian Ocean heritage — it will be an interesting alternative to the other offerings in the UAE,” said Brian Scudder, group communications director at Dubai-based Oryx Real Estate. “Large scale developments are unlikely to compete with the tourism infrastructure of Dubai, for example. A variety of small-scale developments will, on the other hand, appeal to the up-market holiday home-buying market — those looking for particularly unusual coastal beauty," he added. Fujairah is thought to have been interested in opening up its real estate sector since the late 1990s, but is said to have held back until it received the green light from the UAE's federal government. The liberalisation of Abu Dhabi's property market in August is also believed to have helped open the way for other emirates to perform similar moves. “The government of Fujairah has been looking at timeshare and property sales for many years, before any other emirate had really thought of it. Nevertheless, it has obviously taken greater agreement at the federal level for the government to move ahead with its plans,” said Scudder. The move also comes as a raft of new property developments are being planned along the eastern emirate's picturesque coastline, including mixed-use complexes and pure tourism ventures. The Rotana group and German tour operator TUI have recently announced they will build hotels in the area, while Kuwaiti investors have started work on a large project, Al Dana, which will house villas and hotels on a reclaimed peninsula jutting out to sea. UK-based travel company First Choice is also to shortly sign an agreement with Fujairah’s government to build a tourism resort on Al Aqah beach, according to Al Dhanhani. The government is also believed to be planning a large-scale marina development with investors from Abu Dhabi, which will include over 1000 villas and three hotels, and is making concerted efforts to extend its road links with the rest of the UAE. “With highway improvements bringing the UAE East Coast ever closer to the Dubai-Ajman-Sharjah conurbation and Abu Dhabi, this modest destination has the potential to grow significantly,” said Guy Wilkinson, GM of hotel and property consultancy, PKF The Consulting House.

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