From our international offices and our local partners on the ground in UAE we help international clients with the following services.

Buying the Best Property in UAE

Very simply we offer our International clients the best of both worlds in that we have proven experienced local knowledge on the ground as well as international expertise from having made many different transactions throughout the world. This will allow you to buy safely and securely in United Arab Emirates and especially Dubai.

Investor Visa

United Arab Emirates now offer an investor Visa therefore allowing those citizens who don’t have employment to reside in the UAE. First Celtic can help you with this whole process.

Setting Up a Business in the United Arab Emirates

Very simply our professional directors can help you with the set up your company structures in the most tax efficient manner possible. We only use the very best Lawyers, Accountants and professional advisors to make sure your company structure is 100% safe and secure and the very best you can have in United Arab Emirates


Asset Management

If you’re an investor and already own assets in UAE or just acquiring them then our team of professionals can offer you the complete asset management services including property management and project management.

These are just a sample of the key services that Gray Stuart UAE provides and should you need any further information do not hesitate to contact us directly.

First Celtic International


Tel:         +44 20 7588 8355

Asia:      +63 977 829 1489

Why Invest in United Arab Emirates Property?

Last updated JAugust 2018

Well the answer to that may well lie in the word Opportunity as prices have been declining as of late which might signal a good entry point to enter the market.

For now, residential markets in Dubai and the UAE are heading down. Dubai’s all-residential property price index (RPPI) declined by 3.85% during 2017, according to When adjusted for inflation, Dubai house prices actually fell 6.4%.

Dubai’s apartment sales prices fell by 3.82% (-6.37% inflation-adjusted) during the year to December 2017.

Villa sales prices in Dubai also dropped by 3.83% (-6.39% inflation-adjusted) y-o-y during the same period.

In Abu Dhabi, the all-residential property price index has fallen even further, posting a 9.02% y-o-y decline in December 2017.

Apartment sales prices in Abu Dhabi suffered a sharp price decline of about 10.23% (-12.61% inflation-adjusted) in 2017.

In contrast, villa sales prices increased by 3.24% (0.5% inflation-adjusted). Which should tell you something about what type of investments you should be making.

Sales prices of both apartments and villas in Abu Dhabi fell slightly during the last quarter of 2017 as investor sentiment remains negative, according to First Celtic International.

But there are signs of a revival. Political tensions in the region are making Dubai and UAE more attractive to regional investors. Price declines in Dubai slowed during the latest quarter, notes First Celtic International And property transactions in Dubai were up by 14% y-o-y in terms of number, while transaction value was up by 6% y-o-y in 2017, according to the Dubai Land Department (DLD).

Abu Dhabi has strengthened the protection of off-plan buyers. It’s recent real estate law (No. (3) of 2015) appoints Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipal Affairs (DMA) as real estate regulator, performing the same functions as Dubai’s RERA. The reforms, as outlined by The National, include:

A central government database/register for all property projects in Abu Dhabi, including off-plan sales;

Developers are only allowed to charge DMA-approved administrative fees, and are barred from collecting registration fees from investors;

Rules are laid down for the creation of owners’ associations;

Developers are allowed to sell off-plan units as long as they own a real estate right over the project land. A “disclosure statement” is also required, providing information on the development to home buyers.

Developers marketing off-plan units are required to open an escrow account.

In case of “substantial prejudice”, off-plan buyers can terminate their purchase.

Developers will be fined by the DMA if their projects are delayed by more than six months. If there is a significant delay, the new law allows for cancellation of projects or the appointment of anew developer.

A 10-year liability period for developers regarding structural building defects.

Several other factors have affected the market. The Federal Mortgage Cap, introduced in 2013, has slowed the pace of residential value appreciation in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. In addition, the Dubai Land Department recently doubled property registration fees from 2% to 4% to dampen property demand.

Finally the implementation of the value added tax (VAT), which became effective in January 2018, is another factor. The 5% VAT only applies to home sales after three years of the project’s completion. Sales within three years of completion have 0% VAT rate.

However the First Celtic outlook for Dubai’s real estate market remains positive, noting that the anticipated acceleration of GDP growth in 2018 would provide support to the residential market. “Overall the risks may be outweighed by the expectations of stronger global economic and trade growth in 2018 than previously forecast, which Dubai would certainly benefit from given its standing as a regional trading hub and safe haven,”

Foreign ownership rules are quite liberal:

Foreign nationals are now allowed to buy freehold properties in designated areas in Dubai.

Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nationals are allowed freehold ownership anywhere in the Emirates.

Abu Dhabi’s government introduced new regulations in 2014 allowing foreigners to own property in designated investment zones on a freehold basis. Previously, foreign investors were generally limited to leasehold arrangements with 99-year leases. This followed Abu Dhabi’s previous market-boosting measures. In 2012, the government compelled public sector employees living outside Abu Dhabi to relocate within the emirate’s borders. Then in November 2013, the government cancelled a 5% cap on annual rent increases.

Most residential property buyers in Dubai are UAE nationals, followed by Indians, Saudis, British, and Pakistanis

The UAE represents a very interesting property market for the right type of Investor and business owner.

The Buying Process in United Arab Emirates

Most importantly there are two types of property purchases you can make in the United Arab Emirates including Dubai. These are Off Plan property also known as Pre-Selling New Developments which is a property or unit that has not been built yet and is at some stage of the construction process or not even started at all. The second is the resale property market which is a unit that is already been built and has its first, second or third owner. The buying process for the resale market is much more complicated as you will see below.

Buying an Off Plan Property in United Arab Emirates

Buying an off-plan property project in the UAE comes with its own advantages and inherent risks. The primary benefit is generally a lower purchase price. Developers are offering on average 10 percent to 30 percent lower prices for buying an off-plan property project in the UAE. The closer to completion or a sell-out a development is, the higher the price usually becomes.

Here are 10 points investors should consider when making a decision on an off-plan property purchase. Including these points in your pre-investment checklist will steer you away from danger and ensure you enjoy the financial benefits of buying an off-plan property project in the UAE:

1    Developer reputation and track record of delivering past and present projects on time and to the promised standard.

2    Location, location, location of the development and the level of surrounding infrastructure and attractions.

3    The position of your chosen unit within the project or community.

4    Facilities and level of amenities within the project.

5    Payment plan structure and contract obligations linked to construction.

6    Handover and completion date.

7    Current market conditions, and implications on price per square feet.
8    Overall development master plan.

9    Developer and project registered with RERA.

10   When buying through the UAE secondary market, assess the premium being charged.

The subsequent payments will follow as per the schedule outlined in the payment plan set out in your contract. Some developers will request post-dated cheques for these payments, however, this practice is not recommended.

Ensure your developer registers your property with Dubai Land Department via the Oqood registration portal. Depending on what you negotiate with the developer, the developer may pay the full fee for registering your apartment or villa, pay half of the cost, or more commonly, you as the buyer will need to pay the full registration cost. Typically this amounts to 4 percent of the purchase price.

If buying an off-plan property in Dubai, makes sure you only purchase a Dubai Land Department (RERA) approved and registered project. All payments paid to the developer should go into a project Escrow account in the name of the project, not the developer.

Check the project registration and construction progress on the government website Ensure your Sale Purchase Agreement is signed and stamped by the developer as well as Oqood registration in Dubai Land Department is in place as soon as possible.

Payments should be made against construction completion milestones only unless otherwise agreed and specified in the Sale Purchase Agreement between developer and purchaser.

Buying a Resale Property in United Arab Emirates

The DLD only conducts transfers if both parties to a transaction are GCC nationals; all other transactions must be done through a DLD-accredited RT office. Both parties or their legal representatives, through a valid power of attorney, must attend the transfer.

The fee in all RT offices is Dh4,000 for transactions over Dh500,000, and Dh2,000 for those below this amount. Fees are payable in cash, paid by the parties as agreed. The buyer must bring the following manager’s cheques:

* The full purchase price payable to the seller

* The buyer’s portion of the transfer fee (4 per cent of the purchase price) as agreed between parties plus Dh580 in DLD registration charges.

* The broker’s commission, if any

The buyer may also have to refund the seller for the prorated share of the services charges that were prepaid by the seller, however, this can be done through a personal cheque.

When payments have been made and all documents are verified by the trustee, the information is sent through an online system to DLD for approval. Once approved, the trustee has the parties sign the official transfer documents. Finally, the original title deed is issued and given to the buyer, along with keys and access cards for the property.

Cash buyer and mortgaged property

When there is an existing mortgage on the property, the loan must be settled prior to the transfer to the buyer. To do so, the seller must first request a liability letter from the lender (bank). This letter states the balance of the loan, as well as any fees and penalties. The liability letter generally has a validity period ranging from 7-15 days, depending on the bank. Therefore, it is important to time the request for the letter so that it does not expire prior to the transfer date, otherwise a new letter must be requested.

If the seller does not have the funds to settle the mortgage, then the buyer must do it. Since a cash buyer needs protection against the seller transferring a property to another person, or changing the terms of the agreement after the buyer pays off the seller’s loan, it is important to “block” the property. Once the liability letter is received, the parties must go to the RT office to block it.

The parties must bring the following documents and manager’s cheques:

* signed form F

* Liability letter

* Copy of title deed

* Cheque for liability letter amount payable to the lender by the buyer

* Cheque for 4 per cent transfer fee as agreed, plus Dh580 in registration charges payable to the DLD

* Cheque for blocking fee (Dh1,520) payable by buyer to the DLD

* Cheque for the seller (purchase price minus liability amount, held by the RT until the transfer is completed)

After the property is blocked, the seller delivers the cheque to the lender, although some banks require the buyer to be present as well. After the mortgage is settled, the clearance letter and original title deed are provided to the seller.

The NOC process then takes place. When received, the parties proceed to the RT office to transfer the property. The cheques are disbursed and the buyer takes the original title deed.

Mortgage buyer and mortgage-free property

If a buyer needs financing, a pre-approval letter should be obtained to determine the maximum amount the bank is willing to lend the buyer. The benefit of pre-approval is twofold: buyers and brokers can set a price range when searching for a property, and sellers will take the offer more seriously. To receive the pre-approval letter, salary certificates and bank statements are required by the lender. The pre-approval letter has an expiration date, so time is of the essence for the buyer to find a property and negotiate an agreement.

Once the parties have signed the contract and the deposit is handed over, the lender will conduct a valuation or appraisal of the property’s value. The valuation fee generally ranges from Dh2,500 –Dh3,500 and is paid by the buyer.

If the property is valued for at least the purchase price, the bank issues the final offer letter (FOL) to the buyer. The FOL includes all the terms and conditions of the loan and mortgage. The buyer arranges with the lender to sign the FOL and issues security cheques to the bank, as required.

The parties then apply for the NOC. Once it is obtained, the lender schedules the transfer at its preferred RT office. The buyer must bring the following manager’s cheques:

* contribution of at least 25 per cent of the purchase price, as required by the lender and UAE Central Bank regulations, payable to seller

* Mortgage registration fee equivalent to 0.25 per cent of the loan amount, plus Dh290 payable to the DLD

* Cheque for the 4 per cent transfer fee as agreed, plus Dh580 payable to the DLD

* Broker’s commission, if applicable

At transfer, the bank brings a cheque payable to the seller for the remaining balance of the purchase price. The mortgage is then registered with the DLD. If it is a conventional loan, the title deed is issued in the name of the buyer. If it is an Islamic (Sharia) loan, the lender is listed as the landlord and the buyer as tenant. In either type of mortgage, the original title deed is given to the bank to hold, until it is paid in full.

Mortgage buyer and mortgaged property

Since there are two mortgages and perhaps two banks in this scenario, and all documents have varying processing times and expiration dates, the timing of requests for the liability letter, valuation, final offer letter and NOC is very important.

After the buyer and seller sign the agreement, the buyer’s bank conducts the valuation of the property and the FOL is signed. Next, the seller requests a liability letter from the lender. Once the liability letter is issued, it is sent to the buyer’s bank, which settles the mortgage with the seller’s bank.

After the mortgage is settled and the clearance letter and original title deed have been received, the parties apply for the NOC. When the NOC is ready, the buyer’s lender arranges the transfer.

At the transfer, the seller’s existing mortgage is released. The fee for the release is Dh1,290, which is paid by the seller. The property transfer documents are signed. The buyer provides the cheques, as described previously, and the buyer’s lender issues a cheque to the seller for the remaining balance of the purchase price.

The buyer’s mortgage is then registered and the buyer’s lender retains the original title deed until the mortgage is paid in full.

United Arab EmiratesLocation Guide

The United Arab Emirates is an Arabian Peninsula nation settled mainly along the Persian (Arabian) Gulf. The country is a federation of 7 emirates. Abu Dhabi, the island capital, is home to Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, with crystal chandeliers and room for 40,000 worshipers. Dubai is the site of ultramodern Burj Khalifa tower, enormous shopping centers and extravagant entertainment attractions.

Dubai is a city and emirate in the United Arab Emirates known for luxury shopping, ultramodern architecture and a lively nightlife scene. Burj Khalifa, an 830m-tall tower, dominates the skyscraper-filled skyline. At its foot lies Dubai Fountain, with jets and lights choreographed to music. On artificial islands just offshore is Atlantis, The Palm, a resort with water and marine-animal parks