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Abu Dhabi has always been the focus of attention of many investors and expatriates around the world, given that it is the safest city in the world or how stable and strong the economy is.

We have compiled the regulations for owning real estate in Abu Dhabi specifically pertaining to expats and the areas that are available for all nationalities.

Nationwide Middle East Properties can help you find your next dream home in Abu Dhabi

Properties ownership types for expats in Abu Dhabi

Laws concerning property ownership by expatriates are different from one emirate to another.

This blog provides information about regulations of buying a property in Abu Dhabi


Expatriates are granted ownership deeds of residential units for a period of 99 years, which allow them to fully dispose of the apartments and villas they buy (except for the lands)


Expatriates can own residential units for a period of renewable 50 years by the agreement of the parties for a similar period.

Musataha contracts entitle the owner to enjoy the use, construction or alteration of the property within a specified period of time.


Expatriates can own residential units for 99 years. The Usufruct contract entitles the owner to enjoy the use of the property and its facilities without being able to change it.

Long-term Lease

The right to lease units for an initial period, not less than 25 years.

9 areas that expats can own in Abu Dhabi

There are nine areas in Abu Dhabi, where foreigners are allowed to own real estate properties.

1. Saadiyat Island

Just seven minutes from downtown Abu Dhabi and 20 minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, the gorgeous, natural 27-square-kilometre Saadiyat Island has been undergoing a remarkable transformation into a world-class leisure, residential, business and cultural hub. It houses the world’s largest single concentration of premier cultural assets, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, and will include Zayed National Museum and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in the future. All of these stunning spaces have been designed by Pritzker Architecture Prize winners. The island also boasts two gorgeous white-sand beaches (which protect critically endangered Hawksbill turtles), the competition-worthy Saadiyat Beach Golf Club and a collection of luxury hotels.

2. Al Reem Island

Reem Island is a natural island situated 600 metres off the north-eastern coast of Abu Dhabi island and connected to Abu Dhabi city by bridges. Twenty minutes from Abu Dhabi International Airport, it is home to a variety of residential, commercial and retail developments, and sits close to Saadiyat Island and Al Maryah Island. This residential and commercial project is home to one of the emirate’s architectural landmarks: the linked, pillared-style Gate Towers. At the heart of the island, with an imposing central dome, Sorbonne University Abu Dhabi was the first French higher-education institution to open in the Gulf and is the university’s first international campus.

3. Yas Island

This landmark, family-friendly entertainment hub is just a 30-minute drive from the city and a 15-minute drive from Abu Dhabi International Airport. Yas Island is home to an F1™ race track, several theme parks, an incredible links golf course, beautiful beach, stunning hotels, an impressive mall and much more. It’s the perfect place to bring the kids, from toddler to teen, for a fun-filled holiday by the sea.

4. Al Maryah Island

This upmarket island is perfect for visitors who love the finer things in life. Home to dramatic turquoise sea views, the five-star Rosewood Abu Dhabi hotel set on the vibrant Sowwah Square waterfront, the ultra-modern Four Seasons Hotel on the edge of the Arabian Gulf, and the upmarket The Galleria shopping centre, this plush destination promises a fabulous day out with friends or family.

5. Lulu Island

Al Lulu Island (Arabic: Pearl island) is a 1,050-acre (4.2 km2) man-made island off the coast of Abu Dhabi island, the capital of the United Arab Emirates. It stretches from the Abu Dhabi Breakwater to Mina Zayed. Al Lulu Island is only accessed by private boat.

6. Al Raha Beach

Al Raha is a mixed-use development and a popular leisure destination in Abu Dhabi. It has two precincts, Al Raha Beach and Al Raha Gardens, both further divided into 11 sub-communities.

Among the two, Al Raha Beach is towards the shoreline on a public beach along Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Street, E10 connecting the capital to Dubai. With 5.2 million sq. m. of natural beach shoreline.

Al Raha Beach is a vibrant community offering luxurious waterfront living at its best. Most importantly, it is one of the popular areas to rent luxury apartments in Abu Dhabi as per Bayut 2020 Real Estate Market Report.

7. Sayh Al Sedairah

Sayh Al Sedairah is located between Abu Dhabi & Dubai. It contains a lot of residential projects; Al Ghadeer by ALDAR Properties and AlJurf by Imkan.

8. Al Reef

A project by Manazel Real Estate, Al Reef is a mixed-use development set on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi. The neighborhood is categorized into two sub-communities namely Al Reef Villas and Al Reef Downtown. Those looking for family homes can opt for Al Reef Villas, while Al Reef Downtown is perfect to find apartments.

9. Masdar City

Masdar City is a pioneer in sustainability and a hub for research and development, spearheading the innovations to realize greener, more sustainable urban living.

The City is home to a rapidly growing clean-tech cluster, business free zone and residential neighborhood with restaurants, shops, and public green spaces.

What do you think about Abu Dhabi real estate market? and which area do you prefer to live-in or invest. Share your thoughts with us through the comments below.