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What investments are there in Dubai or the UAE and which of these is better to choose?

Какие существуют инвестиции в Дубай или ОАЭ и что из этого лучше выбрать?

The United Arab Emirates has an attractive investment climate. According to the report of the International Center for Competitiveness (WCCGCR) for 2021, the UAE became the first in the region and ranked 9th in the world in terms of commercial attractiveness.

Most of the taxes are simplified here: on income, dividends, royalties, inheritance, donation, luxury, capital gains. VAT for legal entities is only 5% against 21% in Europe. In free economic zones (FEZ), of which there are more than 40, there are special customs regimes. Legislation reliably protects business. Those who wish to invest in Dubai or any other emirate (principality) can choose from a wide range of opportunities. The main question is where to invest so that the profit is maximum.

Why it’s worth investing in Dubai and the UAE

In just half a century, the Emirates has transformed from several hundred villages scattered across the desert into a highly developed economy of the world. Giant oil reserves have become a huge help to such a breakthrough. But, realizing their depletion, the Government of the country, when developing the concept of the development of the state for decades to come, relied not on the black gold trade, but on the development of the information and digital sector and the service sector.

To increase the attractiveness of the country for business helped:

  • reliable legislation;
  • stable economy and exchange rate;
  • flexible business development conditions with unprecedented tax breaks;
  • high technological level;
  • comfortable working conditions and life.

However, government agencies do not stop there. They are constantly launching new programs aimed at attracting additional foreign financing from various sectors of the economy:

  • healthcare;
  • science;
  • mass media;
  • alternative energy;
  • advanced industrial technologies, etc.

In 2021, the Government unveiled an updated economic development strategy called “Operation 300 Billion”. The program is designed for the next decade. It will allow:

  • increase the limit of monetary investments in the industrial sector from 133 to 300 billion AED;
  • create about 13 500 companies;
  • increase investments in R&D from 21 to 57 billion AED.

Dubai is the heart of the Arab Emirates, its most beautiful, visited, expensive and investment–attractive city:

  1. Advantageous geographical location: it is located on the seashore and is the center of the intersection of the largest air and sea routes.
  2. The city authorities have set an ambitious goal in the next 2 decades to turn the city into the best in the world in terms of living conditions. This is an additional incentive for the growth of attractiveness from the point of view of capital investments.
  3. This is the largest economic pole, which has concentrated thousands of enterprises and millions of their employees, 80% of whom are foreign citizens in need of permanent or temporary housing.
  4. Real estate is highly liquid, and the annual rental income reaches up to 10% of the cost. The demand for luxury housing is constantly growing. Investment in real estate is one of the most profitable types of business in this principality. For additional stimulation, the authorities are constantly strengthening the protection of investors’ interests.
  5. Another reason why investing in the local economy is profitable is the possibility of obtaining a loan from a bank at low rates.

What is an investment plan and how to develop it

Business project discussion

Investing requires planning just like any other business project. Even before you start taking practical steps, you need to write down the sequence of actions on paper, assess your financial capabilities, make a list of possible debts and think over a plan for their repayment.

But we need to start with setting a goal. Answer yourself the question why you are starting this business. Someone needs funds to pay for their studies or just save money and realize some expensive dream, for example, a big trip. Someone wants to acquire new knowledge and skills, feel more independent, and someone wants to move to a new level and secure a stable long-term income, a comfortable old age, and an inheritance for children.

Having identified the goal, you can start planning. The business plan should contain all the key points and answer the questions:

  • what is the goal;
  • expected profit and expenses;
  • what are the methods of achievement;
  • who is responsible for the implementation of the project;
  • what are the financial risks;
  • for what period the project is designed.

A classically compiled business plan contains:

  • summary describing general provisions (goals, objectives, market overview, competitors);
  • marketing plan describing the market, financial strategy;
  • production plan;
  • description of organizational issues, distribution responsibilities;
  • financial plan, including a description of the stages of implementation and the timing of each, market analysis, estimated profit and expenses, calculation of payback.

For short-term capital investment, you can make an individual investment plan. It is not so voluminous, but it should also contain the purpose of the investment, possible risks, methods and tools for implementing the idea.

To reduce the risk of monetary losses, make sure that at the start of the project that you conceived was the only financial burden, and also that you have:

  • there were no outstanding debts, loans;
  • there were enough reserve funds in case of unforeseen expenses;
  • there was a financial “safety cushion”.

Overview of the most cost-effective ways to invest in the UAE

Any job in the UAE is profitable, because salaries in this country are very high. But if you decide to increase your fortune without leaving your main place of work, there are plenty of opportunities too. Consider the options for organizing passive highly profitable earnings, which are used by both locals and foreigners.

Investing in savings accounts

With/with Emirates NBD

Emirates NBD

NBD is the second largest bank in the UAE, controlled by the Government of the Emirate, enjoys a reputation as one of the best. NBD complies with Sharia law and operates in accordance with the Islamic principle of Mudabar, according to which all customers equally share profits and losses. This postulate is spelled out in the bank contract.

The bank does not charge a commission for opening a deposit. But to open it, you need to have a salary of at least 5000 dirhams, the minimum amount on the account is 3000 dirhams. The account is serviced in local currency, the annual rate is 0.2%. The owner of the deposit:

  • receives a free debit card;
  • can make any transactions for free, including international ones;
  • is exempt from paying an annual commission.

ADCB Active Savings Account (Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank)


Abu Dhabi Commercial Bank also operates in accordance with Sharia law. The deposit can be opened online, not only in local, but also in American currency. The rate in AED is 0.8% per annum, in US dollars – 0.35%. Interest is accrued daily from the day the deposit is opened, but is issued once a month. Customers do not pay an annual fee.

With/with in RAKBANK


To open a bank account, you must have a debit card and send a request to the bank.

In RAKBANK, you can choose:

  • option c/c – with a zero balance, with a minimum, as well as with fees and commissions;
  • deposit currency – dirhams, US dollar, euro, pound sterling, Swiss franc, Japanese yen.

The interest rate, regardless of the deposit currency, is calculated at the rate of 0.25% per annum. Accruals are made daily, but payments are made every six months. If the account is opened in Swiss francs, British pounds or Japanese yen, payments are made once a month.

Interest accruals are suspended if the amount on the deposit in terms of dirhams is less than 10. The minimum balance must not fall below 3000 AED, otherwise the bank charges a fine of 25 AED.

Stocks and Bonds

To attract additional investments necessary for development, companies issue shares and bonds – securities that anyone can purchase. The value of shares is not constant: it changes depending on the growth or losses of the company. In the first case, the market value in the market will grow, which means that the dividends (income paid quarterly) of the owners will increase, in the second case, both will fall. Investing in a profitable company, you can earn a lot of money. The more securities purchased, the higher the amount of dividends. However, the risks are not small: in case of financial difficulties for the company, the value of shares falls, often significantly below the original price.

To start earning on stocks, you need to:

  • register on an exchange, for example, NASDAQ Dubai, DFM or ADX;
  • open a trading account with a broker;
  • get an ID number from the Clearing, Settlement and Depository Department.

Bonds are securities that are purchased for a long term with a fixed annual income. For example, you can buy bonds in TermSukuk at 3% per annum, provided that you invest at least 50 thousand dirhams and hold for at least 3 years.

Real estate investments

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina

This is a prestigious residential area located in the southeast, stretching a narrow strip along the coast of the Persian Gulf. It is also a popular resort that attracts tens of thousands of tourists all year round, a place located within walking distance of the main attractions.

More than 200 buildings have been erected here for guests and locals, three of which are 80-storey. Their windows offer magnificent panoramas of the embankment and the bay. To buy or rent here, you can choose any option (for any budget): from an economical studio to a penthouse with several bedrooms, a separate floor or a spacious villa.

The area is of great interest to investors focused on premium real estate. The yield level is 5-8%.

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah

This is the famous palm island. Its area is more than 5 square kilometers, and its shape is a giant palm tree spread out in the middle of the water surface. About 60 thousand people live here permanently. There are hundreds of villas on 16 branches of the palm Tree, and around each marina. Apartment buildings, hotels, shops, shopping malls, beach clubs, dozens of cafes and restaurants, an observation deck with a length of 240 meters have been erected on the trunk of the palm tree. Palm Jumera is connected to other parts of the city by a network of highways.

Townhouses, penthouses, land plots, apartments in high-rise buildings are for sale on the island-palm. The price of one-bedroom apartments starts from 600 thousand dollars, you can rent a room for 30-45 thousand dollars a year. The return on investments is kept at 4.7%.

Business Bay

Business Bay

This is a new business center. More than 240 office high-rises have already been commissioned here, a network of highways and waterways has been laid out, landscaped gardens have been laid out. However, construction work continues. When they are completed, three equipped territories will appear in Business Bay: a Yacht club, a Pier and a Park.

According to the architect’s idea, 20% of the premises will be designed for domestic and commercial use, about 60% – for mixed use. Part of the buildings will be forbidden to transfer ownership. The peculiarity of the project idea is the connection of the water area and the land area. Some of the houses are built directly on the water, where the first floor is a marina or a swimming pool in a natural water area. You can get to the neighboring areas by yacht, ferry, water taxi.



This is a Middle Eastern variation of Disneyland. It is the largest entertainment center in the Principality. There are about 50 attractions, as well as shopping centers, residential buildings, and hotels on almost 270 square kilometers.

DubaiLand is distinguished by affordable prices for real estate. Here you can buy a three-bedroom house for about $370,000. The return on investment ratio is 5.3%.

4 residential complexes with thematic design and corresponding names are attractive for investment: “Arab Ranch”, “Sport City”, “Golf City” and “Falcon City of Wonders”.

Mohamed Bin Rashid City (MBR City)

Mohamed Bin Rashid City

In the south direction from Business Bay there is an empty plot of land with an area of more than 100 square kilometers, bounded by several major highways, where it was decided to build a new city of Maiden, which will occupy a quarter of the territory. The rest of the space will accommodate a racing club, art galleries, entertainment, commercial facilities and family tourism.

It is planned to build more than 26 thousand objects for housing here. The residential area will be connected by a monorail to two airports. Now dozens of developers are working here, dozens of houses are at various stages of completion, in which funds can already be invested. The cost of renting in ready-made houses starts from $ 13,000 per year for apartments and can reach up to half a million for luxury villas. The yield is 4.6% per annum.

Imar Beach Front (Emaar Beachfront)

Imar Beach Front

It is located in the northern part of Dubai Harbor between Palm Jumeirah and the Mina Seyahi Hotel. The project has not been completed yet, but according to experts, the investment profitability here will be at least 8% per year. At the construction stage, premium-class housing is much cheaper than ready-made.

In accordance with the development plan, 27 high-comfort residential complexes will be built here, which will be built on a narrow reclaimed coastal strip. In them it will be possible to buy not only a luxury penthouse, but also a whole floor with an area of 1 sq. km.

Downtown Dubai

Downtown Dubai

It is both a residential, commercial and entertainment venue in the heart of the city. Among the attractions, the super-high Burj Khalifa skyscraper stands out with a height of 828 meters, the Grand Opera, the shopping center, the singing fountain. The area has a good infrastructure, appropriate conditions for work, recreation and entertainment, is in demand among buyers.

More than 30 thousand objects have been put up for sale. At the same time, several more residential projects designed for customers with very high requirements are at the completion stage.

Hundreds of villas and townhouses are located in the vicinity of Downtown, which are suitable for those who prefer to live “on the ground”, while enjoying the benefits of civilization and luxury decoration. In Downtown, you can buy a house on favorable terms and rent it out with an income of at least 5.4% per year.

Arabian Ranches

Arabian Ranches

This is a suburban location with a low-rise stylized building. Here you can find houses in Spanish, Arabic style or something modern, for example, Hi-Teck. You can buy a room ready to move in, or without finishing. The area is suitable for couples with children. There are many parks, several lakes, tennis courts, bike paths, a skate park, a golf park, several football fields, basketball courts. Within walking distance of shops, pharmacies, medical center, etc.

Rental housing is the most expensive here and is constantly growing, for example, over the past 2021 it has risen by 18%, but demand is still not falling. The return on investment is 5-7%.

Dubai Creek Harbour

Dubai Creek Harbor

This project is considered the most ambitious. Several residential and commercial complexes have been built in the area, but it continues to expand due to the development of the coastal strip. The construction is unfolding taking into account the strengthening of the environmental safety factor. The emphasis is on landscaping, expansion of green recreations – parks, gardens. When the project is completed (by 2040), the area of green recreation will double.

Creek Harbour is part of the larger and more developed community of The Lagoons, so residents can use all the amenities of a neighbor: walking areas, shops, kindergartens, sports fields, etc. This is a suitable place to live with family and children. But it is also perfect for working people, because it is located near large urban business centers.

Now is the most suitable time to invest in real estate under construction: apartments with several bedrooms can be bought for a little more than 200 thousand dollars.

Dubai Hills Estate

Dubai Hills Estate

This is one of the multifunctional complexes of the future MBR City. The development is immediately carried out with the expectation of customers who are accustomed to a comfortable, luxurious, but remote from the hustle and bustle of the city life. A small number of elite villas of various configurations, several multi-storey premium class houses will be located here, part of the territory will be left for individual development with the right to purchase land. There is already a lot of what is necessary for a calm, serene life: a golf club, a skate park, tennis courts, swimming pools, bike paths, football fields and an equestrian arena, spacious landscaped parks.

According to statistics for 2021, the yield was 5-7%.

DAMAC Hills Estate

DAMAC Hills Estate

This is another quiet commune with a variety of buildings designed for purchase and rent. The starting price for the apartment is $ 110,000. Many buildings are not yet completed, they can be purchased at a lower price. Return on investment – 5.1%.

Hilal Al Ghaf

Hilal Al Gaf

One of the best locations, located near the recreation “Laguna” – the center of water sports and kayaking. Its area is 70 square kilometers, and the length of the beaches encircling the water surface is 400 meters.

Hilal Al Gaf is focused on couples who value privacy and comfort. The basis of the housing fund is elite low–rise buildings, but there are also multi-storey complexes. The most attractive are the multifunctional complexes “Harmony I” and “Harmony II” in the community “Water Lagoon”. Here you can choose a two-storey townhouse, spacious apartments with several bedrooms, a maid’s room, open terraces, several garages. There is an opportunity to purchase a room with unequipped rooms and rebuild them at will for an office, a children’s room, a game room, a mini gym. Construction work has not been completed yet. At this stage, you can buy Luxury real estate at significantly lower prices.

Discovery Gardens

Discovery Gardens

A six-kilometer location with a large selection of budget housing: more than 26,000 studios and apartments with 1-2 bedrooms. Internet City, Media City are located nearby. As in other locations, there is everything you need for a comfortable stay, recreation, entertainment, sports: covered Parking, shopping center, swimming pools, gyms, playgrounds for football, volleyball, tennis. The highlight of the housing fund is the grouping of buildings into clusters on 6 themes with appropriate architecture and surroundings: Mediterranean, modern, Mogul and Zen (Asian), Mesoamerican and cactus.

Buying a studio will cost 280,000 dirhams, and you can rent it for only 19,000 dirhams. In addition, the location has the highest investment return – 9-10% per year.

Barsha Heights

Barsha Knights

Former TECOM. The headquarters of many giants of the world economy and the media are concentrated here: BBC World, CNN, HP, CNBC, Microsoft, etc. Located near the popular locations of Jumeirah, Marina. Comfortable residential buildings and hotels have been built here for living.

Mutual funds

Earnings on shares resemble earnings on securities. The client invests funds and receives dividends that directly depend on the amount of the contribution. If an enterprise develops, then its value increases, which means that the profitability of its shares and bonds increases.

Mutual funds can be open and closed. In the open, you can buy and sell shares at any time, in the closed – only during certain periods.

According to the method of management, funds are active and passive. In the first case, both earnings and risks are higher.

You can join mutual funds through ADCB, HSBC Bank or InvestDaily from Emirates NBD.


Exchange Traded Fundsis an exchange-traded investment fund whose shares are traded on the exchange. Buying a share on this exchange, the client immediately receives several shares from different companies. Investments have a number of advantages:

  • they are easy to buy (this can be done during the day);
  • they are cheaper than shares on an index exchange;
  • they are characterized by moderate risk.

The ETF can be purchased at:

  • eToro;
  • Interactive Brokers;
  • Saxo Bank.


This is a real estate investment trust. Investments in REITs are a profitable alternative to buying real estate on the local market. REITs are a type of shares that you can buy or sell at your discretion. At the same time, you do not have to take care of the premises themselves: their maintenance, finding tenants, etc.

REITs can be joint-stock and mortgage. In the first case, the object is purchased, in the second, mortgage services are simply provided to the client. The profit from such investments is stable and quite high. It is recommended to buy REITs through an ETF.

Is it possible to get a state pension in the UAE

Money in the UAE

Foreigners working in the territory of the state do not have the right to a state pension. The issue of providing pensions to foreigners is acute, since, for example, in Dubai, the number of foreigners has exceeded 80% of the total number of residents. For now, an expat can apply for participation in the Dubai Pension Program, which entitles them to receive a five-year pension visa or a corporate pension.

In February 2020, the DEWS program was launched. Organizations working in DIFC were obliged to make monthly contributions to a single fund for each employee in the amount of 5.83% to 8.33% of his salary. If an employee completes before retirement, then these savings will be used to pay a pension, if he leaves earlier, then the accumulated amount will be paid as a lump sum.

There is another program involving pension payments – Retire in Dubai. to participate in it, the applicant must have:

  • monthly salary of 15,000 dirhams;
  • real estate worth at least 1 million dirhams;
  • bank account in the amount of 1 million dirhams for the last 3 years.

Capital investment tax

The UAE does not have most of the taxes present in other countries. However, this does not mean that there are no tax payments in full. The tax on the purchase of real estate is 4% (often the amount is divided in half between the buyer and seller. Products harmful to health or the environment are subject to the highest excise taxes, for example, sugar–containing beverages – 50%, tobacco products – 100%.

Corporate tax is paid by organizations engaged in oil and gas, foreign banks and their branches. The maximum profit tax rate is 55% for oil companies, and 20% for foreign banks and their branches. Companies located in the FEZ are exempt from paying corporate tax.

Why long-term investments are more profitable

Many people are of the opinion that short–term investing is a highly profitable business, since it has minimal risks. This is partly true, in any case, it’s definitely calmer this way. However, if your goal is to provide yourself with reliable passive earnings for a long time, then it is more profitable to invest money in long–term enterprises.

An example is the purchase of a room. Owning real estate will provide you with a reliable and stable income for many years to come. Everything that is being built in the Emirates is distinguished by quality and reliability. Rental prices are constantly rising, but the demand does not decrease from this. The state continues to develop by leaps and bounds, attracting more and more foreign specialists, raising the standard of living, increasing income opportunities. All these conditions are a guarantee of unreliability for long-term investments in Dubai and other principalities.

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Vladimir Sviridov
Vladimir Sviridov
General Manager RLC Consulting
With a Postgraduate Masters in Finance from The, Moscow State University, Russia. Vladimir started his professional career as an auditor of the financial sector of EY. After that, he worked for several years in senior positions in corporate banking. In 2018-2021, he managed the finances of a large agricultural holding, and is currently responsible for strategic planning, corporate partnership and financial management in the role of General Manager of RLC Consulting GROUP in the UAE.

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