Property Ownership by Offshore Companies

The Land Department issued a circular to prohibit offshore companies (except those incorporated in the Jebel Ali Free Zone) from owning properties in Dubai. The force of this circular is non-retrospective and will apply solely to new registrations for property ownership at the Land Department from 1 January 2011.

If an offshore company wishes to own property in Dubai, it must first incorporate an offshore company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone, which will become the registered owner of the property. When registering property in the name of the Jebel Ali Free Zone offshore company, the company will be required to provide a separate formal undertaking to notify the Land Department of any change share ownership of the company.

Dubai real estate, which is currently registered with the Land Department and held by offshore companies, is not affected by the provisions of the circular; however, any request made after 1 January 2011 by such entities (excluding those incorporated in the Jebel Ali Free Zone) to register additional real estate with the Land Department will not be approved unless the company has established an offshore company in the Jebel Ali Free Zone.

The circular does not apply to the registration of property by the following companies, provided that the property is located in one of Dubai’s ‘freehold areas’ designated for foreign ownership:
  • Limited Liability Companies incorporated in Dubai with foreign shareholding of up to 49%;
  • Companies incorporated in any of Dubai’s free zones, such as Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre and TECOM, or in the Dubai International Financial Centre, provided that the relevant free zone authority issues a No Objection Certificate to the Land Department; and
  • Companies incorporated in foreign jurisdictions such as the UK, USA or Germany, which are onshore in that jurisdiction.

Marina Fox Legal Consultancy is a JAFZA registered agent for incorporation of such offshore companies. Contact