Sharjah is allowing UAE expatriates to buy property for the first time ever – but there are a couple of catches.

Unlike Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Ras Al Khaimah – where overseas investors can also buy property – in Sharjah, prospective owners must already have a UAE residency visa.

If their residence subsequently ends they can still hold onto their property, however.

What are the limits on expats buying property in Sharjah?

  • Expatriates can come from any country/ nationality.
  • Owners will be able to hold property in Sharjah on a leasehold basis, not freehold, on long leases of up to 100 years.
  • The expat must have a residence visa at the time of purchase.
  • Expats cannot buy land, only property.

The director general of the Sharjah Real Estate Registration Department, Hamad Salem Al Mazrooa, said: “If for some reason after the purchase the residence visa expires, they are free to hold the property, lease or sell it as they wish.”

The Sharjah government passed the new law through the executive council resolution 26 of 2014, approved by Sharjah’s deputy ruler Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi. Previously, only GCC Arabs and a select few people with special permission could buy real estate in the emirate.

[Related: Can you get a residency visa with UAE property? | Buying property in the UAE for the first time | The real cost of buying property in the UAE]

Where in Sharjah can an expat buy property?

Investments for expats will be restricted to new areas on the edge of the city center. The Sharjah government hopes to limit reduce traffic and congestion in the emirate this way.

The first new development to offer long leases will be Tilal City, close to the Al Dhaid Interchange. Developed jointly by Sharjah Asset Management and Eskan Real Estate Development, this is a 25m square foot project on the Emirates Road.

With an estimated completion date of December 2016, Tilal City will have 1,800 land plots and will be split into five zones featuring apartments, villas and townhouses for 65,000 people.

A registration office at the Tilal City site will open soon, where foreign investors can start registering their properties. Tilal Properties is at 800-TILAL or with a dedicated sales office opening in Robot Park Tower, Sharjah.

[Compare home finance in the UAE | Compare home insurance in the UAE]