Foreign nationals and foreigner-owned businesses can now acquire land on full freehold in Abu Dhabi, at locations designated as investment zones, state news agency WAM reported.
The new rights also empower them to develop properties for the land thus acquired. The United Arab Emirates capital previously limited ownership largely to Emiratis and citizens of the neighbouring Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states.
"The modernisation of the real estate law reflects the government vision to support and develop the business environment in Abu Dhabi, along with the development of investor services and procedures," said Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, crown prince of Abu Dhabi.
This is a game changing announcement for Abu Dhabi, and we applaud yet another insightful policy decision by the government that allows expatriates to be able to buy freehold properties in investment zones"
Now residential units in special designated investments zones, such as the one close to the international airport, will be registered under Abu Dhabi's freehold law, with property ownership deeds issued to investors. Foreign investors in Abu Dhabi property were previously granted leasehold arrangements with a maximum 99-year time period.
Aldar Properties, in which Abu Dhabi Government holds a significant stake, and Imkan, owned by Abu Dhabi Capital Group, had been testing the waters offering plots for sale at recent launches.
"This is a game changing announcement for Abu Dhabi, and we applaud yet another insightful policy decision by the government that allows expatriates to be able to buy freehold properties in investment zones," Aldar chief executive Talal Al Dhiyebi said in a statement.
"This will not only further drive the maturity of Abu Dhabi's real estate market, but will also increase transparency and provide clarity of title for property owners, increasing long term investment, injecting more liquidity into the market and encouraging longer term residency," he added.
Aldar announced a recently launched residential project on Abu Dhabi's Yas Island, where land and property can be sold to all nationalities, had sold out and generated over 400m dirhams ($109m) in sales.