Monday, August 23, 2010

Freehold vs Leasehold Property in Dubai 2010

Freehold vs Leasehold Property in Dubai

The Dubai property market is experiencing a yo-yo effect these days, but it hasn't stopped the investors coming in or the developers from completing their projects. Among the most in-demand Dubai real estate types, freehold property takes the highest place. What is freehold and how is it different to regular leasehold property? In simple terms, it means expatriates can own property in Dubai, although they are not citizens. While the general public would be happy with that brief explanation, investors need to know much more about the difference between freehold and leasehold property and how the options affect their investment decisions in Dubai.

Typically, when you are a freehold property owner, you own all the rights to the property as a whole, which includes the building and the land on which it's situated. But in Dubai, freehold property is restricted to owning just the building and not the land. This is because law stipulates that no foreigner can own land in the United Arab Emirates. Dubai has limited freehold property developments to specific communities, which are liberally available for investors and end-buyers. Within main city areas, the majority of the property is still leasehold and only owned by UAE nationals. Even without complete autonomy, freehold Dubai property is always more appealing for buyers and investors, because it allows them to do as they please with their property, as long as it's within legislation and planning laws imposed by the Dubai government.

With leasehold, you only have the right of abode for a specified time period, such as one year, two years or more. Sometimes, the lease period can be for several decades. In general, leasehold property cannot be modified at will by the tenant. But in a more beneficial way, a leasehold property owner can rely on the property's original owners to supply maintenance and security services, while freehold property owners don't have that facility. In Dubai, this differs a little with modern freehold property, because the developers contract building maintenance and 24-hour security services before they sell the property to investors and end buyers.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Dubai Souqs and Bazaars

Dubai Souqs & Bazaars

The Dubai souqs are the most popular among visitors, partly because of the bargains, but mostly because of the massive selection available for every conceivable type of product. The Dubai souqs are not as fascinating as the true traditional and ancient souqs in Marrakesh, Morocco or Mutrah, Oman, but it's the most crowded on any given day. The early souqs were focused on trading in spices, silks, perfumes and precious metals, but now the markets have expanded to include consumer electronics, household appliances, gaming systems, toys and novelties and much more.

Deira, which is mainly residential and the oldest section of Dubai, houses the majority of the souqs, including the famous Gold Souq and Spice Souq. If time permits, you can visit both sides of the Dubai Creek, by crossing the creek on an abra (small wooden raft-like vessel), which costs you just one dirham. (around $0.25). The souqs open as early as 7:00 am daily (except on Friday) and stay open till 12:00 noon, which is the start of the mid-afternoon break. They re-open at 5:00 pm and stay open till 7:00 pm. Thursdays and Fridays are best avoided if you are looking for leisurely shopping, as these are the busiest days at the souq (Dubai's weekend).

The Dubai Gold Souq is the most sought-after bargain hunting destination for tourists. You can be at the Dubai Gold Souq all day and be unable to decide on a single purchase, such is the vast variety of gold, diamonds, silver, pearls, emeralds, rubies and amethysts. If you're only window-shopping, you can simply start from one street and finish at the other end, but people who visit the Dubai Gold Souq rarely go away without buying something. Thousands of shops line the streets and the prices are often less than half of what you'll find in the rest of the world.

Then, there's the Dubai Spice Souq. The aroma will waft across your nostrils, tempting you to try one after another of the amazingly delightful spices from the Middle East, Asia and Africa. Stocked from shelf to shelf above and row to row on the floor, the spice stalls now line a few narrow streets, shadowed by the new cheap goods stalls coming up all around. The diminishing number of stalls are perhaps due to another reason – all super markets in Dubai today offer a wide range of spices too. Regardless, if a cultural experience is what you need, you simply have to visit the Spice Souq.

Other Dubai souqs include the Textile Souq, Bur Dubai Souq, Satwa Souq, Food Souq, Perfume Souq, Electronics Souq, Mina Bazaar and the Fish Market. Despite Dubai's prevalent mall culture, these souqs are a perfect for an off-the-beaten path shopping experience.

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Dubai Real Estate Laws And Regulations

Dubai Real Estate Laws And Regulations

Real estate anywhere in the world is a market to be watched closely and analysed continuously throughout time. In Dubai, the property market has been booming since early 2001, with major development projects popping up all over the emirate and even on its seas. While the boom may have caused and influx of foreign investors to rush in and grab a slice of this hot-selling cake, the market is finally undergoing its overdue correction, with several laws and regulations tightened, modified and added by the authorities. Dubai real estate laws and regulations are much more effective at present, protecting both buyers and sellers in the right way.

In addition to the basic laws stipulating how locals and foreigners can own property in Dubai, mid 2008 saw three major changes in the Dubai real estate laws and regulations. For a long time, Dubai's property market was based on prices produced through speculation, often resulting in off-plan property selling well over the actual value, even in the resale market. Mortgages were ridiculously planned out, with rights and obligations of parties unclear in the contracts. Many developers falsely claimed to offer guaranteed residency visas for property buyers, when in fact they can't guarantee any such thing.

In response to this corruption level, the authorities began redefining the laws to curb speculation, level the playing field in general and regulate the Dubai real estate market. As of now, no one can buy off-plan property and resell it without incurring a 30% taxation on it, mortgage contracts offered by all financial institutions and developers have to be precise and defined and the link between property ownership and residency visas is clarified. These laws may seem like a double-edged sword, but taken in their entirety, legitimate investors will come off with profits anyway, while weeding out the unscrupulous ones.

The authorities have acted on these in a timely manner, creating a more mature property market than the helter-skelter corrupted market of just a few months ago. Establishing the Real Estate Regulatory Agency and the Dubai Property Court have contributed to more benefits for buyers and sellers in general.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Dubai Shopping Festivals, a Must Visit in 2010

Dubai Shopping Festivals, a Must Visit in 2010

Dubai and shopping go hand in hand, with Dubai often referred to as a global bargain shopping destination. Besides the massive modern malls with designer goods and brand name products and the traditional souqs and bazaars along the old streets, Dubai has another aspect of shopping – the Dubai shopping festivals. The two most prominent among these are the annual Dubai Shopping Festival and Dubai Summer Surprises.

The Dubai Shopping Festival was launched in 1996, aimed at energising the existing Dubai retail trading sector. Attracting approximately three million visitors to Dubai during its hosting, the Dubai Shopping Festival has since then been primarily recognised as a yearly tourist attraction. The festival is generally held between December and February and lasts 30 consecutive days. Unlike street markets and festivals, the Dubai Shopping Festival is celebrated all over Dubai city, with shops located everywhere joining in with discounted offers on whatever they sell. The night skies are lit up with fireworks and bright party lights, raffle draws are aplenty and the general atmosphere is of a jubilant nature. Tourists come to Dubai during this time not just because it's a haven for tax-free shopping, but for the variety of entertainment events taking place during the festival as well.

Along with the Dubai Shopping Festival each year, Global Village comes to life too. Global Village is an innovative concept designed to invite global traders to sell goodies native to their country in specified stalls. Segregated to country-specific sections, the Global Village houses halls upon halls of unique products from countries such as India, China, Iran, Egypt, Bangladesh, South Africa, Russia and many more. In addition to the shopping gala, entertainment events, children's activities, amusement rides and shows are all included in the Global Village festivities.
The Dubai Summer Surprises festival is the summer counterpart of Dubai Shopping festival, although it's not yet as popular as the original winter season celebration. The Dubai Summer Surprises was launched as a means of attracting tourists to Dubai even during the sizzling summer days, which often sees only a handful of tourists visiting the city.
Photo by austinevan