Indian investors put USD 1.6 billion into Dubai between 2020 and H1 2023, driven by new incentives

The world-famous silhouette of Burj Khalifa in Dubai. Photo courtesy: Pixabay/dniyer

Indians are among the top investors in Dubai this year, with USD 335 million put into the business-friendly emirate in the first six months (H1) of this year. This takes the total foreign direct investment (FDI) in Dubai from Indians to USD 1.6 billion between 2020 and H1 2023.

These numbers have been published in a new business report, compiled by Vestian, a Chicago-headquartered multinational commercial real estate firm that focuses on serving occupants, not landlords. Its research shows that Dubai was one of the top picks for Indian investors because of its strategic location and tax-friendly policies — these were the two main incentives.

While Dubai has always had a close association with India and Indian investors, the emirate has in recent years become more attractive because of the overall visa and investment policy reforms in the United Arab Emirates.

Outlining the relationship between Indians and the Dubai market, a November 2023 report in The Economic Times said: “Indians have consistently been among the top three nationalities to buy properties in Dubai for nearly the last two decades.”

USD 4 billion worth of Dubai residential real estate sold to Indians

The pandemic effect has clearly not blunted the Indian appetite for the Dubai market. As per the Vestian data, Indian investments in Dubai reached USD 541 million in 2022, nearly twice that of 2020.

The Economic Times report said: “In 2022, Indians remained a dominant force in Dubai’s real estate market, making purchases worth over USD 4 billion. Between 2015 and 2021, Indian real estate investors bought properties worth AED 84 billion in Dubai. India’s real estate investors are increasingly favouring Dubai, drawn by factors like high rental yields ranging from 5-7%.” The figure of USD 4 billion was confirmed by the Vestian research.

AED 2 million property can get one a Golden Visa for up to 10 years

One of the top draws of the UAE at present is the Golden Visa (5 years or 10 years), introduced in 2019. It allows outstanding people in different categories to get a long-term residence visa; that includes investors who can inject a minimum capital of AED 2 million (INR 44 million or 4.4 crore approx) into the UAE market. Owning UAE property (one or more) whose total value is not less than AED 2 million also makes one eligible for a Golden Visa.

A variety of new visa categories, which make it much easier for expats to visit family in the UAE or bring family members over to the UAE, add to the business competitiveness of the country.

The emirate of Dubai has particularly benefited from these reforms, as it tends to be the first port of call for Indians looking to live or work or buy property in the UAE.

New partnerships, including global economic corridor, strengthen UAE-India ties

Speaking of the factors drawing Indian investors to Dubai with renewed enthusiasm, Vestian CEO Shrinivas Rao cited the India-UAE Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA), signed in February 2022 and activated in May 2022. Rao is a Fellow of the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (FRICS).

It is no coincidence that during the G20 Summit hosted by India in September 2023, one of the key developments was the announcement of the India-Middle East-Europe Mega Economic Corridor. The project partners are India, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, the European Union, France, Italy, Germany, and the United States.