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DUBAI-Regulators have introduced the first REITs in the Middle East with immediate effect and at the same time published a consultation paper on new property ownership proposals.

“In many of the world’s major capital markets, REITs have become the most favored method for attracting public ownership in property investments. They provide a convenient form for listed and tradable property ownership with transparent pricing and liquidity,” David Knott, chief executive of Dubai Financial Services Agency, says in a statement.

“The REIT industry attracts widespread investor support in countries including United States of America, Australia, Canada and Hong Kong,” he adds. “Under these rules, it will be possible to issue REITs for the first time in this region. It will add a significant new dimension to the UAE’s property market.”In a separate development, the Dubai International Financial Centre Authority (Difca) published two consultation papers. The proposed Real Property Law guarantees ownership of freehold land and interest in land within the Dubai International Financial Centre. The press notice adds that “it will allow for foreign companies and individuals to hold freehold ownership of real estate within the Dubai International Financial Centre.” The law is based on the underlying principles of English common law, but also incorporates the Torrens system of land registration, currently used in Australia, New Zealand, Canada and Singapore. Interest registered under the law will be “indefeasible”. This means, the statement adds, “that persons buying real estate, lending on the security of real estate, or taking a lease on real estate, can be assured that their investment is backed by the full protection of the law.”

Another proposed law will introduce guaranteed freehold title to units in buildings in the Dubai International Financial Centre. This will introduce an “administrative structure designed to handle the day-to-day management of buildings” and it is intended to “help overcome the complexities of co-owners association constitutions, master community declarations, and the like.” The laws will “solely apply exclusively in the jurisdiction of the Difca.”

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