TOP-9 districts for buying property in Dubai


Time for reading: 12 min

Thanks to almost total absence of taxes, high level of safety, continued economic growth and political stability, Dubai’s real estate market attracts many foreign investors even amid the pandemic. In 2020, purchase/sale agreements in the Emirate amounted to a total of USD 7.4 billion, 53% (or USD 3.9 billion) of which was paid for properties under construction. Notably, a significant part of such purchases was made by foreigners.

There is a plenty of various properties for sale in Dubai, where almost anyone can find what suits them best. Here, one can buy an affordable apartment or a studio, as well as a premium-class serviced penthouse, or even villa with a bathtub made from a single mountain crystal. Each district of Dubai can offer properties for sale in both affordable and premium-class segments.

In the Emirate, there are various ways to own a real estate in Dubai. Foreigners mainly buy residences in freehold districts with full ownership rights. Owners of such real estate have the rights to rent out, renovate, sell and further transfer it by succession. Notably, right of ownership apply to both the property and the land. In leashold-zones of Dubai, one buys the right to hold a property or land for up to 99 years. In fact, it is much like a long-term rent. Also, there is an option to rent plots of land using Musataha agreement for 50 years and to build on it anything.

The choice of district when buying a real estate property in Dubai depends on many factors such as follows: available financing, purpose of the purchase, etc. The average ROI of Dubai real estate properties is 5% while some districts and projects could offer a ROI of 8% to 10% annually.

In 2020 buyers and investors looking for affordable properties focused on Business Bay and suburban districts, including Dubailand and DAMAC Hills. Wealthy customers who wanted to invest their money into premium-class properties preferred popular historical districts: Dubai Marina, Downtown Dubai, Jumeirah, and Arabian Ranches.

Let us take a closer look at districts of Dubai which are most popular with foreign buyers.

Dubai Marina

Dubai Marina

According to the Dubai Land Department (DLD), in 2020 Dubai Marina became the leader by the volume of premium-class apartments sold in the district.

It is a small 3.5-kilometer-long district with a total area of 4.8 sq. km originated in 2003. Over 200 luxury residential towers have been built on it, as well as hotels, office spaces, a number of restaurants, shops, beach clubs and entertainment facilities, and large shopping malls Dubai Marina and Dubai Marina Walk. A well-developed transport infrastructure in the district has been provided which is sufficient for the district’s territory. there is a tram-line, bus stops and two subway stations, Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Lake Towers. The district overhangs an artificial harbor with yacht terminals. The majority of buildings in Dubai Marina offer a picturesque view of the promenade. It is basically a residential district designed for beach rest and a luxury lifestyle.

Tourists like this territory due to its position along the seaside. The locals and guests of Dubai Marina can access clean and well-attended beaches, both public and private ones.

The master developer of this disctrict is Emaar Properties. Basically, it is premium-class properties in towers (studios, 1- to 4-bedroom apartments and penthouses) that are offered in the district, though a limited group of villas is also presented here.

Among the best selling projects in the district is Marina Gate complex which comprises of two skyscrapers, a group of villas, apartments DAMAC Residenze, and beach residences LIV Residence.

1-bedroom apartments in Dubai Marina start from AED 470 000 (USD 128 000) while the most affordable villa will costs AED 1 650 000 (USD 450 000).

In 2020, the average ROI of premium-class apartments in Dubai Marina was 6.2%. Though it is an averaged value, and ROI can be significantly higher depending on a microdistrict or project.

Business Bay

Business Bay

The district is a business center of the emirate, a kind of Manhattan in New York. It is a mixed-type territory with a total square of over 7.4 sq. km. Here, one can find both residential and commercial zones, 5-star hotels with water channels and green parks spread nearby. The promenade of the main water channel of the emirate, Dubai Water Canal, is home to dozens of cafes, restaurants and entertainment establishments, including the well-known aquatheatre La Perle. The district also hosts the tallest hotel in the world JW Marriott Marquis.

In 2020 the district was popular with buyers and investors who wanted to invest money into affordable apartments. Immigrants who work in Business Bay, Downtown Dubai nearby and Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) often buy or rent residential spaces here.

Basically, residential properties in the district are comprised of apartments, however, villa complexes are also offered here. To date, the most popular projects are the residential Merano Tower and premium-class complex Reva Residences by DAMAC, as well as The Opus by Omniyat, an impressive futuristic-design skyscraper.

1-bedroom apartments in Business Bay start from AED 575 000 (USD 156 500). In 2020, ROI of the affordable apartments in this district was nearly 5.9%.

Downtown Dubai

Downtown Dubai

This is one of the most prominent districts of Dubai which is also the geographic, business and touristic center. The main Dubai’s places of interest are located here: the world’s tallest tower Burj Khalifa, dancing waterfalls, Dubai Opera and the world largest shopping and entertainment complex Dubai Mall.

For a long time, this district has been a popular place both with new residents and tourists. Here one can find offices of world-known companies, first-class hotels, sought-after shopping malls, numerous restaurants and entertainment establishments as well as premium-class real estate properties. A variety of social amenities allows for a comfort living in the district. It includes clinics, kindergartens, schools, and supermarket stores. The district’s convenient road junctions allows for an easy access to any part of the Emirate from Downtown Dubai, with only 15- to 18-minute drive needed to get to the airport.

In 2019, Downtown Dubai was recognized as one of the most popular districts with real estate buyers. Notably, during that period, ROI of the studios was 7% while ROI for 1- and 4-bedroom apartment was 5.6%.

The most cost-effective type of rent is a short-term one. Due to a constantly high tourist traffic to Downtown Dubai, there is a high demand for smaller apartments. As such, there is a good possibility to get a ROI of as much as 10% and higher.

As for residential realty, it is basically luxury apartments and pethouses that are offered in the district, as well as a few types of villas. The district keeps being developed actively with a variety of off-plan buildings by Emaar, including skyscrapers Il Primo, Burj Crown and Emaar Grande.

The minimum price for a 1-bedroom apartment in Downtown Dubai is AED 695 000 (USD 190 000).

Dubai Hills Estate

Dubai Hills Estate

Dubai Hills Estate is a new Dubai residential district under construction with Emaar and Meraas Holding as key developers. The project has a square of 11 sq. km. It is expected that 3 333 residences will be here with over 13 000 people to live in them.

Dubai Hills Estate will be a separate green zone inside the metropolitan city. It is a multi-purpose complex comprised of premium-class villas, townhouses, apartments, a park, basketball and volleyball courts, children’s playgrounds, skate park, pedestrian and cycle lanes, golf-club Dubai Hills, hotels, shopping centre, cafes and restaurants.

In 2020, the microdistrict became the most popular with upper income people who looked for premium-class villas in Dubai. According to latest data, ROI of premium-class villas in Dubai Hills Estate is 4.9%. The 1-bedroom apartments in the microdistrict start from AED 535 000 (USD 145 600) with the most affordable villa at AED 2 000 000 (USD 544 400).

Emaar Beachfront

Emaar Beachfront

Emaar Beachfront is a coastal residential complex in Dubai Harbour under construction. The square of the project is 0.93 sq. km. The complex is located near Dubai Marina, between JBR and Palm Jumeirah and in close vicinity to popular shopping malls, restaurants and yacht clubs of the city.

Emaar Beachfront will comprise 10 000 apartments with 1 to 4 bedrooms and 3- to 4-bedroom penthouses in 27 residential skyscrapers. There are also villas, a hotel, and a shopping mall. The residents and guests of the hotel will have access to a speckless 1.5-kilometer beach. Also, a 135-meter-high lighthouse with a viewing point is designed to be built here, as well as marina for 1 000 piers.

Residential apartments with a view of the sea can be bought in towers Marina Vista, Beach Vista, Sunrise Bay, Grand Bleu, etc. that are under construction. The minimum price for a 1-bedroom apartment here is AED 1 1700 000 (USD 318 500). The villas start from AED 4 700 000 (USD 1 280 000).

It is expected that the beach complex will attract tourists’ interest with a high ROI as one of its advantage.

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah

Palm Jumeirah is the iconic artificial island in the shape of a palm tree. There are premium-class residences and hotels as well as the whole infrastructure necessary for a luxury beach rest: restaurants, cafes, and a variety of entertainment establishments. A monorail connects separate parts of the island with the mainland.

As for residential properties on the palm island are composed of studios, 1- to 5-bedroom apartments, 6-bedroom penthouses, on-shore villas and townhouses with a dedicated beach for each house. Most of the residences have a view for the Persian Gulf.

In 2019, Palm Jumeirah was ranked 1st in the list of most sought-after districts for villa purchase in Dubai and was ranked 4th for apartment purchase. The highest demand was registered among investors.

The minimum price for a 1-bedroom apartment on the island is AED 900 000 (USD 245 000) while villas start from AED 3 900 000 (USD 1 062 000).

During the first months of 2020 the average ROI for real estate on the Palm Jumeirah reached 6%. By the end of 2020, ROI of the studios and 1-bedroom apartments was 5.4% while ROI of 2-bedroom apartments was 6.1%. The premium-class villas on the palm island in 2020 was 3.5%.

Arabian Ranches

Arabian Ranches

In 2020, Arabian Ranches saw the highest ROI for rent of premium-class villas at 5.5%. In 2019, before the pandemic spread, the mark was 5.9%.

Arabian Ranches is an enclosed residential complex in Dubai’s suburb with a square of nearly 6.7 sq. km. It comprises of villas and townhouses surrounded by green zones, as well as an equestrian, a world-class golf club, children’s and sports playgrounds, barbeque zones, pools, running tracks and cycle lanes.

The villas start from AED 1 350 000 (USD 367 500).

Mohammed Bin Rashid City (MBR City)

MBR City

It is one of the largest mixed-type districts with a total square of 108 sq. km which is located just a few-minute ride away from Downtown Dubai. It was established in 2012, and as early as in 2015 it was put into operation. The main feature of the project is that it has the world’s largest artificial lagoon of crystal clear water with a 14-kilometer-long promenade planned to be constructed alongside. Also, among infrastructure objects that are going to be constructed here are a world’s largest shopping center, amuzement park, shops, restaurants, cycle and running lanes as well as an integrated business environment. As such, it is expected that the district will be constantly attract a high traffic of guests, both tourists and entrepreneurs.

According to the plan, there will be 26 400 residences in MBR City; a part of them is ready to be used. Here one can buy luxury apartments, villas and ultra-modern-designed mansions.

The 1-bedroom apartment in the district start from AED 672 000 (or USD 183 000) while villas are sold at AED 1 350 000 (USD 367 500).

In Mohammed Bin Rashid City, the maximum ROI can be achieved by purchasing and lending studios; in such a case, ROI will be 7.1%. The average ROI for 1-bedroom apartments in MBR City is 5.1%.

Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR)


Both immigrants and tourists recognize JBR as the best place for living and beach rest. It is located on the very sea coast and is part of Dubai Marina. The district is spread 1.7 kilometers along white-sand beaches. There are restaurants, shopping malls and entertainment establishments and hotels in JBR. Medical and educational facilities are located nearby. Tram stops and two subway stations are within walking distance.

Premium-class apartments are offered here. The most affordable 1-bedroom apartment in JBR costs AED 900 000 (USD 245 000).

In 2020, the luxury apartments feature a ROI of 5.4%.


  1. Various districts of Dubai offer both affordable and expensive premium-class properties;
  2. Sought-after districts of Dubai keeps being intensively developed; each of them offers residential and commercial real estate under construction for sale;
  3. Some districts of Dubai can offer a ROI of 10% annually;
  4. The highest ROI can be achieved by investing in studios that are situated in certain microdistricts (most often, by short-term rent);
  5. Choosing a district or a specific project with a lack of special knowledge will be a challenging task: it will require an expert with a good knowledge of Dubai real estate.

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