Indians in Dubai

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This is a collection of articles archived for the excellence of their content.


Economic status

2014-15: Indians top foreign property investors

The Times of India, Nov 01 2015

Investors from India and Pakistan in Dubai; Graphic courtesy: The Times of India, Nov 01 2015

Nauzer Bharucha

In Dubai realty sector, Indians are the top foreign investors

Indians have emerged the top foreign property investors in Dubai, spending over Rs 30,000 crore in 2014 alone.This is more than a quarter of the total of around Rs 1 lakh crore of `non-Arab' property investments recorded in 2014, according to the Dubai land department. In the first half of 2015, Indians were again the most prolific foreign investors, with 3,017 transactions worth over Rs 13,000 crore.The department said 123 different nationalities spent over Rs 42,400 crore in the same period.

In the first week of November 2015, leading Dubaibased developers will descend on the city to entice Indians to invest in the Emirate's real estate. The property exhibition in Mumbai comes at a time when Dubai's property market is still shaky--prices fell by 12.2% during 2014, the argest drop in the world, ac ording to real estate consulancy Knight Frank. Russians, who were one of the biggest property investors in Dubai, left after the 2008 global financial crisis, said sources. The biggest names in the construction industry in Dubai are now vying to entice Indian buyers to invest in apartments and villas at prices they claim are much cheaper than Mumbai.

But a Knight Frank official said over the past year, there was a fall in the proportion of Indian real estate investment in Dubai. “In H1 2015, Indians accounted for 15% of the total spent on property--versus 25% in H1 2014,“ he said.

“Proximity to India, lower interest rates, rental yield ranging 4-7% annually , high tax-free returns on investments of around 20% and a regulated market are key driving factors for Indian investments into the sector,“ said a market source.

2016-17: Indians top foreign property investors 

Indians again top foreign property investors in Dubai, Oct 27 2017: The Times of India

Bought Rs 42K Cr Assets From Jan '16 To June '17

Indians bought property worth Rs 42,000 crore in Dubai from January 2016 to June 2017, making them yet again the top foreign property investors in the emirates, according to the Dubai Land Department.

This is an increase of Rs 12,000 crore from 2014, when the department recorded Indian buyers investing Rs 30,000 crore that year. This was more than a quarter of total sales of Rs 1 lakh crore of non-Arab property investments in 2014. “For years, Indians have consistently been the most prolific non-GCC buyers of Dubai real estate. From January 2016 to June 2017, they bought property worth more than Rs 42,000 crores in the emirate, said a statement from Dubai Property Show.The show will hold its third exhibition in Mumbai from November 3-5 at Bandra-Kurla Complex. A study by Dubai Property Show reveals the purchase pattern of Indians looking to invest in Dubai real estate, along with the preferred property type. According to the study , most (88%) Mumbaikars and residents of nearby cities, including Pune, Ahmedabad and Navi Mumbai, are primarily looking to invest Rs 3.24-6.5 crore. About 8% plan to seal the purchase within the budget range of Rs 65 lakh to Rs 3.24 crore. The rest were looking to buy properties above Rs 6.5 crore. While selecting the property type, apartments were the most preferred (33%), with villas following at 17%.

Dubai Property Show general manager Asanga Silva said, “A recent Knight Frank report quotes that from 2012-17, Indian residential property buyers have seen an overall return of 49.3%, the highest in the world. Dubai is among the most affordable property destinations in the world, and the strengthening of the rupee further nudged investors in this direction. Officials said the Dubai property market is highly regulated and safeguards interests of buyers, tenants and landlords alike. “When it comes to renting property in Dubai, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) has set definitive laws to regulate the relationship between landlord and tenant, and outline each party's roles and responsibilities, to minimise disputes and misunderstandings, they said.

Migration of Indians

2022: “The nicest city in India”

Namita Devidayal, February 20, 2022: The Times of India

For Seema T, a long-time resident of Mumbai’s tony Cumballa Hill, the idea of walking home barefoot from a concert was unimaginable — until last month, when her new sand als were biting so she simply slipped them off and traipsed back to her flat. She was home, but it was her second home — Dubai. “It feels so clean and safe here,” says the 48-year-old who describes herself as a retired entrepreneur.

Dubai has become “the nicest city in India”, joke its growing fans. During the serial lockdowns, when geography became history, many affluent Indians teleported themselves there. Some took their grannies and their nannies to supervise the children in their Zoom classrooms. The Pfizer jabs were a bonus. Gradually, what started as a temporary move for many during lockdown has morphed into a decision to settle down there — or at least have one pedicured foot parked there.

While most other countries were clamping down on their borders, the United Arab Emirates laid out a red carpet to get both wealth and talent from overseas, and create an attractive, cosmopolitan Lego-land of afflue nce. They have a new museum coming up, lifestyle restrictions have been relaxed, and it recently aligned to the Monday-Friday work week. Making it even more attractive is the Golden Visa — a 10-year residence permit that allows its beneficiaries to come and go as they please, avail of medical infrastructure, and get an instance driver’s license instantly. There is also a 5-year visa option.

While the Golden Visa typically comes with a minimum $10 million investment requirement, the government has been offering it virtually free to “inv estors, entrepreneurs, specialized talents, researchers and bright students with promising scientific capabilities” according to a UAE cabinet resolution. In the last year, a whole bunch of film celebrities have got it including Faahad Faasil and wife Nazriya Nazeem, Kajal Aggarwal, Boney Kapoor etc. Among those who have received invites and are opting for it are the I ndian members of several business associations, partly because it costs less than Rs 1 lakh, partly because it offers a great tax-free option to park wealth, and mostly because it is fun to say, “I run (barefoot) on JBR beach every morning” or “Let’s do midweek lunch at Roka”. “I received 300 calls in the first week of February from people who were business associates of one another,” says Karan Zaveri, a Dubai-based chartered accountant whose firm helps Indians with tax planning as well as the Golden Visa. “We have issued 100 such visas already . ” Clearly, it is a big smiley Mahraba for those who are likely to buy a Bentley, eat at Zuma and start a business, but not if you were the construction worker or cleaner. “The thing about Dubai is that it’s a lot like India in terms of class and power hierarchies,” says an Indian living there, who did not want to be named. “And the Golden Visa is an invitation to exactly these kinds of families because the government wants rich south Asians to have homes or holiday homes here so guess what -the prices of villas have gone through the roof. ”

On any g iven day, the Bom-Dxb-Bom Emirates flight’s business class cabin is heaving with people who know each other and complain about how there are far too many Indians in Dubai. “ The Golden Visa is the new status symbol,” says a Delhi woman who is reluctantly moving because her husband now lives there and there are one too many blonde Eastern Europeans out and about. “Peop le of a certain class are constantly convincing each other to move there. ” Last year, a group of mothers from a prestigious suburban Mumbai school moved to Dubai and call themselves “X School refugees”. Some 10-15 of these kids from the same class now attend the North London Collegiate School in Dubai.

“Dubai is sometimes closer and cheaper than going to Lucknow o r Madurai for work,” says a businessman. “I know people in India or Africa who would rather fly to Dubai for a meeting than navigate connecting flights within their own countries. ”

Zaveri expects m ore and more Indians to find their way there as many wealth management funds are nominating their high net worth (HNI) clients for the visa.

Real estate, purchase of


Sudipta Sengupta, February 5, 2023: The Times of India

Affluent India has a new residential address: Business Bay, Dubai. Armed with deep pockets and aspirations for a luxury lifestyle, wealthy Indians – mostly businessmen and entrepreneurs – are flying in, in droves, to pick up homes in this swanky financial district, say local real estate players. Downtown Dubai, a tourism hub that’s home to multiple malls and skyscrapers, including the Burj Khalifa, is another favourite.

The 2022 real estate data confirms the trend. The Dubai market earned 16 billion dirhams, or Rs 35,500 crore, from sales to Indians last year – which is almost double of what it netted in 2021, around 9 billion dirhams. A sizeable 40% of homebuyers were from India, the majority being from Delhi-NCR, Ahmedabad, Surat, Hyderabad and Punjab. The remaining were Indians living in the UAE (40%), and global Indians (20%) based in different parts of the world.

CXOs’ Thumbs Up

“There is also a certain percentage of senior executives, with global roles, who are eyeing properties in Dubai because of its connectivity with the world,” says the CEO of a real estate consultancy firm with operations in Dubai. He said many rich Indians are moving into highend rented apartments, ditching metro cities back home. The Dubai rental market that had witnessed a dip of 30% during Covid-19 has now bounced back to 2015-16 levels, which was a peak period for the city’s realty.

Vishal Goel, co-founder of JV Ventures, is one among them. “Being based out of Dubai allows me to travel seamlessly between Hyderabad, Dubai and London for work,” says Goel. He notes that the fintech ecosystem offered by the Dubai International Financial Centre is another factor attracting several young Indian entrepreneurs to the city. “My wife, for instance, was able to set up her fintech venture that allows her to tap into most global markets with ease. It is something she couldn’t have done so effectively from India,” says Goel, whose venture fund focuses on social assets and life sciences.

High Rental Yields

While the average cost of houses being bought by Indians ranges between 1. 6 and 1. 7 million dirhams (Rs 3. 6 crore to Rs 3. 8 crore), the monthly rents hover in the Rs 3 lakh to Rs 3. 5 lakh bracket.

Local realtors say that the average rental yield from properties in Dubai varies between 4% and 5%, similar to Mumbai.

“That’s a selling point with many white-collar professionals,” says another prominent realtor. He lists out other attributes:

“Dubai is safe for those with deep pockets to park their money, and the city has world-class social infrastructure. Then there are multiple international schools and a growing Indian community. Together, these factors make Dubai a perfect place to relocate to, especially for those Indians looking for an upgrade in their quality of life. ”

Ashrat Chaudhury, director of strategy for Damac Properties, a leading real estate group in Dubai, agrees. He says this is one of the reasons Damac has been drawingbuyers even from smaller towns of India, especially Punjab. “Our business from Indians grew by 2. 5 times in 2022,” he says, adding, “What we sold through the year in 2019 is what we sell in a month now. ” According to him, about 15% to 20% of Dubai’s total realty sales is driven by the Indian community, which is one of the top two homebuyers in the city. The other top buyers are the Russians. The British, Chinese and Pakistani nationals are the other prominent international homebuyers in Dubai.

Golden Visa Push

The Golden Visa programme – expanded in 2022 to include more workers, skilled professionals, scientists and researchers – has given an additional thrust to the growth of Dubai’s realty, say industry analysts. The programme is a longterm residence visa that allows foreign talent to live, work or study in the UAE while enjoying exclusive benefits. In fact, the increase in demand from international homebuyers has led to more launches of apartment and villa projects in the city.

“My children are happier here as schools with an Indian curriculum in Dubai are among the best globally. The city is extremely safe. Even if you leave a bag full of cash in a cab, the driver will track you and return it,” says entrepreneur Rahul Bhattad, who moved to Dubai from Vijayawada in Andhra Pradesh. He says his aged parents, too, have warmed to the glitz and charm of the modern city.

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