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Abu Dhabi Property Buyers’ Guide

Whether you’re moving a few miles down the road or hundreds of miles across the world, it's a huge decision to ‘up sticks’ and start a life somewhere else. Regardless of how daunting purchasing a new property can be, there is certainly an added element of stress when it comes to purchasing property abroad.

Abu Dhabi is one of the most exciting cities in the United Arab Emirates and has become an increasingly popular location for expats. No doubt you’ve got plenty of questions you want to ask or you may be wondering where on earth to begin in terms of researching this destination and finding out the essentials?

With this in mind, we have created this useful property buyers guide. So, what should you know about buying in the emirate? Firstly, buying in Abu Dhabi is actually a lot less hassle than most people think it is. Especially when you use Offerpal to help you do it. So, here is your definitive guide to buying property in Abu Dhabi.

Abu Dhabi - An Overview

If you are purchasing a property in Abu Dhabi which is being resold, the system is more similar to the process in most other countries than you might have initially thought. Once you have found the property you want, you will need to place an offer, often this is done via an agent. Once that offer has been accepted, a deposit is often required. In addition to this, a transfer fee and estate agent fees need to be factored in.

Selecting a Property

You might not realise it but there are designated areas in the UAE in which foreign nationals are and are not permitted to buy property either as freehold or leasehold.

It is recommended that you:

  • Ensure that the real estate agent you use is approved through a regulatory agency.
  • Make sure that you are fully aware of how much you will be expected to pay and when these payments need to be made.
  • Ensure that you have confirmed that as a foreign investor you can purchase property in the area of your choosing.
  • See that your lender has approved your loan and you have taken into account all of the costs involved to include deposit, agents fees, transfer fees and so on.
  • Ensure that you possess all of the required legal advice and are aware of your contractual obligations and have highlighted any concerns you have with the relevant bodies.

The Legalities

It is not a requirement that you must be a UAE resident to be able to purchase a property in a Dubai freehold area. In keeping with Government requirements, any person, whatever their nationality or location, can purchase real estate within a freehold area.

In order to purchase a property in Abu Dhabi, you need to sign a Memorandum of Understanding with the seller, where you would need to pay two per cent of the property’s value to the real estate agency in the form of a service fee and another two per cent to the Abu Dhabi Municipality. Once you’ve signed the MoU and made the relevant payments, you will then receive an ownership certificate from the developer.

The Typical Timeline

In Dubai, a typical property transaction takes roughly about 30 days in order for it to be completed. However, as with any property buying process, different variables can impact these timelines. This would even come down to something as simple as the time of year. Ideally, if you have a schedule that allows you a bit of leeway, this is definitely ideal as a damage limitation.

What are the Investment Zones

Abu Dhabi provided it's located in one of the “investment zones” in the emirate. These zones are as follows:

  • Yas Island
  • Saadiyat
  • Reem
  • Mariya
  • Lulu
  • Al Raha Beach
  • Sayh Al Sedairah
  • Al Reef
  • And Masdar City.

Purchasing a property on a freehold basis basically means that you receive full ownership of the property. You will then be able to make any alterations that you want to. You then also have the choice to rent it out or sell it. The property types are varied and include villas, townhouses as well as flats.

The type of property

There are various measures in place in Abu Dhabi relating to properties and depending on a few factors, for example, have you purchased a property under construction or is it a completed property? In regards to purchasing “off-plan” properties, the developer that you use would need to be registered with the Department of Economic Development which is based in Abu Dhabi. When you are purchasing a property that hasn’t yet been completed, make sure that the purchase agreement includes a completion date and the compensation awarded if the property has not yet been completed by the applicable date.

What’s more, if the property itself needs to be furnished, you need to decide on an appropriate deadline for furnishing and attach a schedule for doing so. Abu Dhabi is somewhat different from Dubai in that it does not have legislation relating to off-plan sales or imposing escrow account requirements. Arguably this makes it even more crucial for you to exercise caution at the time of purchasing an off-plan property if you choose to do so.

Where to go

There is certainly plenty to do in Abu Dhabi and there are beautiful landmarks dotted around that you can’t miss. The city's Corniche is stunning and has a beautiful seafront. It spans about eight kilometres, from Emirates Palace to Mina Port. A beautiful promenade goes along the front and is just next to the beach. You can cycle along here on a track. The middle section in front is populated with fantastic cafés and restaurants. Here we list a few more must-see destinations in Abu Dhabi.

The Louvre

You’re not mistaken, we are talking about Abu Dhabi - not Paris. This was the first branch of the Louvre to open outside France. Its collection contains over 600 pieces of rare and classical art. All of the pieces are spread across 23 state-of-the-art galleries. Taken from across the globe, the works span many art forms ranging from ancient to modern art. The gallery also often hosts exhibitions and has had hundreds of masterpieces on loan from the Louvre in Paris, these works have included works by da Vinci, Monet, Van Gogh and Matisse.

Qasr Al Hosn

Abu Dhabi’s oldest building is connected to the city’s sprawling development. This building was originally a coral and sea stone watchtower created by the Bani Yas tribes in Abu Dhabi. It's a beautiful structure and certainly not one to be missed.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Whether you have any interest in religion or not, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is quite the sight to behold. The mosque is worth a visit just based on its stunning architecture. It's often compared to the Taj Mahal due to its white marble domes. Although this building has an ancient-like quality, it was actually completed in 2008 and incorporates Ottoman and Fatimid stylistic features.


You can experience world-renowned cuisine from around the world in Abu Dhabi, here are a few of the most popular dining destinations:

Asia de Cuba

This branch of Asia de Cuba based at Riviera Beach Club is a decadent and lavish destination for dinner and cocktails. You can stop in for one or two cocktails and grab a bite to eat on the beach style terrace, the welcoming interior is also very inviting making it a perfect spot to settle in for the evening.

Tori No Su

This Japanese restaurant at Jumeirah Etihad Towers hosts chef Takashi Ando, whose cuisine is exceptional. Ranging from elegant sushi dishes such as maki rolls to more outlandish dishes, it's certainly worth booking one of his omakase tables for a memorable dining experience.

Le Beaujolais

This French restaurant is a firm favourite with lots of ex-pats and it is easy to see why. The relaxed interiors have an old-school European feel. Not to mention the fact that you can order French classics such as fillet steak and beef bourguignon. Très bon!

OfferPal - Find Your Perfect Second Home in Abu Dhabi

If you’re on the hunt for the perfect property abroad in Abu Dhabi, OfferPal has a rapidly growing number of properties available to choose from. We’re a property search engine working with leading real estate agencies and developers in countries across the Middle East and beyond. Our aim is to help you find your dream home by matching buyers with the perfect properties.
Whether you’re looking for a villa, apartment, house or even land, we have a vast range of listings for all types of buyers. Working with some of the leading names in real estate, you can rest assured in the knowledge that our partners are experienced, serious and dedicated to providing the best international properties available. To start your journey with OfferPal and find the perfect second home in Abu Dhabi, visit our website to browse stunning apartments, houses and villas.

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