Investing In Dubai as a Nigerian| Tobi Familusi,International Sales Specialist at EMAAR Properties speaks on the NigeriansInDubai Podcast.

In this week’s podcast, we talk to Tobi Familusi, an International Sales Specialist at EMAAR Properties about Investing in Dubai as a Nigerian. Tobi shares with us secrets of investing in Dubai; how to spot fake investment opportunities in Dubai; things to look at before Investing; different classes of investment for different budgets and other important things that demystify the investment landscape.

This is a transcript of the podcast and you can also listen to the full podcast below. 

If you are interested in finding out more about investing in real estate in Dubai or want further guidance, please fill the form here

Tobi worked for a few years in financial services and banking in Nigeria before deciding to move to Dubai. He worked in domestic operations, revenue collections, small business groups, international operations and international transactions. 

While working across those units, he noted that a lot of Nigerians that sent money abroad were either paying for investment they had abroad or making investments abroad. 

Tobi Familusi,International Sales Specialist at EMAAR Properties

How did Nigeria prepare you for your current role in Dubai? 

Nigeria gave him the work ethic that made the transition to Dubai easier. Banking is a very structured environment, there are internal policies that you must follow in the bank and regulations from the Central Bank of Nigeria that must be adhered to to avoid sanctions. Adherence is strictly enforced by the compliance and audit units of the bank. 

This lifestyle made Tobi run his life in a similar disciplined way. He lived in Lagos, the economic capital of Nigeria and lived a bit far away from the office so he had to always wake up early to go to work to avoid traffic. All these sharpened his beliefs and approach to work. The work ethic in Nigeria make you have a judgemental approach to things ensuring high self governance. You feel bad when things don’t go a certain way so you can’t take anything lightly. That’s the culture of banking and the corporate environment in Nigeria in general. 

Making the transition to Dubai, he expected things to be a bit more intense using the toughness of what he experienced back home in Nigeria. This has been very helpful and helped him fit in properly. 

Getting to EMAAR Properties was exciting for him. According to him, EMAAR properties is the number 1 real estate firm in the UAE and the Middle East and also the most valuable real estate company in the World outside China. The company is worth about $9b dollars which is more than what his favourite club, Manchester United FC is worth.

At EMAAR, they call themselves a lifestyle company because they build properties that suit the lifestyle of individuals. They developed the Burj Khalifa, the Dubai Mall and a lot of other notable structures in the UAE. 

Investment Landscape in Dubai

The whole world is looking at Dubai for investments, real estate especially. The market is just about to enter a sustained boom period because of the policies of the government with different initiatives like improved residence visa status for investors; the expected impact of Dubai 2020, etc. 

Dubai as a major city state is positioning itself as a place investors can come into with serious money and invest. 

The Dubai Expo 2020 is coming and everyone wants to come in to showcase the opportunities available. A lot of companies are coming in to prepare for the Expo. 

Recently Uber acquired Careem for $3.1 billion and Amazon acquired Souq for $580 million. Dubai is even more positioned for tech and eCommerce investments. There are also grants available for businesses that are investing in these sectors with disruptive initiatives. 

There are a lot of non-indigenous companies like Ellington Property Investments LLC, Azizi Developments, Danube Properties, etc that are doing quite well in real estate. With a population of 3 million in Dubai, 90 percent consists of Expats and 10 percent are locals. 

Investing in real estate in Dubai continues to get easier for foreigners. If you invest in a property in Dubai and make a 25% equity contribution, you can access a mortgage of up to 75% to finance the remaining part of the property even as a foreigner. These sort of iniativates make investment less stressful. It is a multicultural environment where people from different parts of the world come in to invest and get returns. And with the recent government changes with regards to residence visas, you can now be a more permanent partner. 

Steps to take before Investing In Dubai

  1. Identify your Investment Objectives: You have to determine if your goals are Short term or Long term. This will ensure you pick the right investment opportunity. It also helps you to define a strategy and track your progress. Even with the long term nature of real estate investment, there are also short term opportunities like buying into already completed projects or taking advantage of people that want to resell their properties. 
  2. Understand the market or the Investment landscape and the Indices: It is important to stay on top of the numbers and changes in the investment landscape as it opens up opportunities you can quickly take advantage of. 
  3. Find the right investment that fits your goals: On the long term, real estate investment is great. On the short term, look at investments in the financial sector, know what the return on investment and interest rates are. The numbers will help you have a compass for what you want to investment. 
  4. Find the right brand, find the right real estate partner: You need to do your due diligence and reviews, checks and balances to decide the brand to buy with. The top real estate brands in Dubai according to Tobi are EMAAR Properties, Dubai Properties, DAMAC, MEERAS (Popular for the city walk and Blue waters), NAKHEEL and Sobha Hartland
  5. Pick the right Location: Location is critical if you are entering real estate for investment purposes to earn rental income.  Look at the location that gives the highest occupancy ratio that will secure your investment. EMAAR for example developed Dubai Marina which offers the highest occupancy ratio which guarantees your investment. So if you are looking at getting rental income then you need to find a real estate location that gives the highest occupancy ratio. If it’s a new community, the right brand can guarantee the occupancy ratios. You need to understand the pros and cons of each location. 
  6. Close Proximity to Metro Stations: Separating this from the locations point. People like to rent apartments close to the metro and live close to the metro. People like Dubai Marina because there is good metro connectivity. There are two metro stations- DAMAC and DMCC and there is tram connecting Dubai Marina to JBR and JLT. People like AL Barsha because there are two metro stations- Sharaf DG metro and Mall of the Emirates Metro. People would rather spend more on the cost of the rent and less on transportation. Metro is the cheapest form of transportation in Dubai so a lot of people rent apartments around Metros. 
  7. Is the Real Estate Company Making Profit?: These real estate companies publish their books. So ensuring they are making profit will make sure your property isn’t delayed hence delaying your income. 
  8. Check the History of the Developers: Do they have a history of project delays, poor finishing, etc. You can easily find this from reviews everywhere online. 

Who regulates Real Estate In Dubai

Real Estate is regulated by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency under the Dubai Land Department. From real estate brokerage to real estate development, you have to be a licensed real estate professional with a RERA certificate before you can sell real estate here. 

Returns on Investing In Dubai. 

For Luxury Nigerians with a budget of 20m to 1 billion naira which is about 2 million to 10 million Dhs

Most real estate companies in Dubai offer about 7 percent return on real estate investment yearly . If you compare Dubai with other major city states in the world, Dubai has one of the best ROI. Dubai is a tax haven so you don’t pay income tax or capital gains tax. Even on salaries there is no income or capital gains tax. 

You can also invest in tech, media understanding your goals whether long term or short term. For long term,real estate in Dubai is one of the best investments in the world

Investing in Dubai also offers 100 percent capital repatriation. You can open a business in Dubai without a sponsor, there are a lot of free zones that allow you to do this and you can take all your money back to your country. If you are into trading and services and looking to have an international office you can decide to do your business in Dubai. 

For middle Income earners/ Investor

Real estate is still a good option for middle income earners. The payment plan structure that is being offered by real estate companies gives you a number of years to continue to pay even after the property has been completed. You can get 3 to 7 years post handover payment plan depending on the real estate company.

EMAAR gives 3 years post handover payment plan while a few others give up to 7 years. As a middle income level earner you can be very strategic about how you pay for your property here. If you pay up to 20 or 25 percent by the handover date, you can decide to rent out the property and use part of the rental income to pay the rest of the purchase value.  

What happens if you default on your payment?

With EMAAR you pay 2 percent default charge for that installment. In the long run after a legal notice, you can lose your property. However if you have paid up to 30 percent of the property, you can sell your property at a profit and the new owner can continue the payment. A transfer of ownership will just be done at the Dubai Land Department. 

How to Spot A Fake Real Estate Investment In Dubai

You have to do your due diligence before you make any investment. 

Every real investment in Dubai has to be RERA certified. They will have a RERA number and ORM number which you can check in the Dubai Land Department’s website. If it pops out their name then they are certified.

It’s not enough for them to have an office or business card. Knowing the RERA number you can report to the Dubai government, Dubai Land Department and the Dubai police. If they are a registered entity then someone will be accountable. As much as possible, stick to the popular brands. 

Sometimes there‚Äôs an appeal for investing with the less known brands doing some adventurous/creative/attractive projects. Make sure you check for their RERA number. 

Check their history and do your due diligence. Investing wrongly can make you lose a lot of money. In doing your due diligence and taking precautionary measures, look out for the following…

  • Is the company experiencing financial issues?
  • Does the company have a history of litigation?
  • Does the company delivers on its projects in good time?

There was a publication recently on Gulf News about a company TimeShare operated by the Arabian Times Travel & Tourism LLC (Arabian TTT) . The concept is that people pay for a particular time in the year or month for  property to be used and if it is used during that particular time, you get your return on investment. You also pay service charges. As interesting as the idea was, a lot of expatriates have lost millions of Dirhams to it according to the report by Gulf News

Available opportunities at EMAAR

Residential and hotel Investments are available. With about $200,000 you can buy a property at EMAAR with payable installments for over 4 years. Each investment depends on your goals. 

If you are interested in finding out more about investing in real estate in Dubai or want further guidance, please fill the form here

Ifeanyi Abraham is a creative storyteller, life hacker and Digital Influencer. He is a Public relations & Digital Marketing executive that helps companies, government agencies & NGOs leverage the power of marketing & communications. He is the Founder of, a knowledge sharing and transfer platform focused on harnessing the lessons, spirit and power of Dubai to the benefit of Nigerians. We tell the stories of Nigerians living, working and visiting Dubai. He is also the Co-founder of The Beverage Room, a digital community for Beverage Lovers.

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