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Foreign investment up 363% in Abu Dhabi real estate

Abu Dhabi real estate WAM
Yas Island was the second most popular residential area for foreign investors
  • Saadiyat Island was most popular location for foreign buyers
  • $227m spent in H1 2023
  • Emirate plans to develop up to 76,000 new homes by 2029

Abu Dhabi real estate encountered a record 363 percent rise in purchases by foreign buyers in the first half of 2023, according to new data.

Foreign purchasers spent AED834.6 million ($227.2 million), Abu Dhabi’s Department of Municipalities and Transport (DMT) reported.

The DMT figures showed that the most popular location among overseas investors was Saadiyat Island, which attracted 34 percent of sales.

This was followed by Yas Island (28 percent), Al Jurf (12 percent), Al Reem Island (11 percent) and Al Shamkha area (8 percent).

Dr Adeeb Al-Afifi, executive director of the real estate sector at the DMT, said the surge in investment reflected the confidence international investors had in the emirate’s economy and its ability to provide long term returns.

During the first quarter of 2023, 2,194 residential transactions were registered in Abu Dhabi. That is an increase of 72.2 percent from the previous year, according to figures from consultancy firm CBRE.

Off-plan sales grew by 131.5 percent. On the supply side, 7,306 units are expected to be completed this year.

Abu Dhabi this week also announced the launch of Balghaiylam, a new residential development located north-east of Yas Island.  


Aldar Properties, in partnership with the Abu Dhabi Housing Authority (ADHD), is developing the AED8 billion project as part of the emirate’s efforts to create integrated and sustainable residential neighbourhoods.

The project, which is scheduled to be completed by 2026, will offer 1,743 new homes.

Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of ADHD, said the project “aims to provide an array of villas for citizens to increase home ownership among Emiratis and reduce delays in obtaining adequate housing”.

ADHD added that Emirati citizens could use a loan granted to them to help purchase a property.

Abu Dhabi’s Aldar Estates and Eltizam Asset Management Group announced a plan earlier this month to merge, creating the GCC’s largest property and facilities management company.

It means Aldar Estates will now manage a portfolio of more than 1 million sq m and facilities management contracts valued at AED2.5 billion ($680.5 million).

Its number of residential units under management will grow from 77,000 to 135,000.

76,000 new homes

This coincides with plans to develop up to 76,000 new homes over the next five years in Abu Dhabi to meet rising demand for residential property. 

The emirate’s executive council signed off on a budget of over $23 billion in May for a string of residential neighbourhoods with new homes and development sites.

Construction is a major contributor to Abu Dhabi’s economy. It grew by 14.4 percent in the first quarter of 2023 – the highest rate for nine years – contributing 8.5 percent to the emirate’s overall GDP.

Completion rates of new buildings rose 37 percent year on year, according to Statistics Centre Abu Dhabi, pushed by interest from local and national investors.

Non-oil activities in Abu Dhabi grew by 6.1 percent over the period and made up 52.8 percent of total GDP, an eight-year high.