The Northern Emirates – a new opportunity

The UAE is made up of 7 emirates in total but two of them, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, have the lion’s share of the spotlight with Dubai being world-famous and often mistaken for a small country.

But as Dubai’s property market prices skyrocket in line with the emirate’s stellar growth, investors and expats are looking towards the smaller Northern Emirates for some sort of reprieve by increasing rents and property prices.

The term “Northern Emirates” refers to Sharjah, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah, Fujairah and Umm Al Quwain which have persisted in relative obscurity, whilst Dubai and Abu Dhabi continue to dominate the headlines.

Image of Corniche, in Ras Al Khaimah

These emirates have had to rely on sources other than oil to sustain themselves. Real estate has been one such area which has shown great potential and excellent growth. Rents are getting cheaper and for those looking to buy property, the lower the prices, and growing demand the healthier the returns on investment.

Take for example a 1 bedroom apartment in Dubai Marina, one of the hottest areas in Dubai – they start at 75,000 AED. Whereas a similar 1 bedroom apartment in Ajman would go for around 30,000 AED which is a massive saving in anyone’s books!

Looking slightly further north, in Ras Al Khaimah where you could nab a 2 bedroom apartment for just 33,000 AED, any renter’s dream!

If you’re looking to buy property, there are plenty of opportunities to get in on the ground floor. Ras Al Khaimah villas for sale start at just under 1,000,000 AED and they often come with excellent sea views too! Something similar in Dubai, say on the Palm Jumeirah? Well, that would set you back at least AED 5 million!

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Recent developments in Sharjah mean that non-Arab expats with a valid UAE residence visa can now invest in residential property across the emirate. Sharjah is known as cultural hub, a place where many Dubai and Abu Dhabi workers have called home due to its more affordable rent. With the lifting of restrictions on property investment, it can now look forward to a new revenue stream while investors eye Sharjah for its strong growth potential and proximity to the two most popular emirates.

Image of Sharjah at night

Although the property market would certainly be more favourable towards any bank account when it comes to the Northern Emirates, employment opportunities haven’t quite caught up with those of Dubai and Abu Dhabi. Living in these areas often means lengthy commutes to the neighbour emirates for work, which can sometimes take upwards of an hour on top of regular drive time. However, cheap fuel and solid road infrastructure combined with tremendous savings in rent make the idea of moving to the Northern Emirates even more attractive.

You’d need to get in quick though because demand for property in the North is growing steadily and despite the fact that industry experts don’t foresee the kind of spectacular growth like Dubai has seen, they do suggest that you’re better off investing or signing that rental contract sooner rather than later in order to avoid disappointment.