Its nationals call Bahrain the Pearl of the Gulf. Whether the name was derived from the country’s long history of pearling or from its strategic location, it certainly fits. Its unique cosmopolitan characteristics make Bahrain stand out among GCC countries.
The location of ancient Dilmun civilization, today Bahrain offers even more to its residents. The country is now a business and banking hub, an exhibition hub, and a prime tourist destination in the GCC.
The country’s diversified culture, laid back atmosphere and first class lifestyle made Bahrain the top choice for expats in 2017. According to expats surveyed for a study evaluating the top destinations for quality of life, Bahrain came as the number one place to live, work and raise a family.
Bahrain led the Expat Insider Poll for making foreigners feel welcome. Did the freehold law have a hand in this?
In the past, expats were only allowed to rent property in Bahrain. Now the law has changed, significantly changing the real estate market and boosting foreign investments in the country.
Real estate legislation in Bahrain now allows real estate ownership by foreigners.
However the law states certain areas, known as freehold areas or freehold zones, where foreigners are allowed to buy property.
The original declaration allowed foreigners to buy properties in five areas in the country. However, due to increasing demand, the number has increased to 10 freehold areas now in Bahrain. And the number is expected to grow even more in the foreseeable future.
The freehold areas in Bahrain now include Amwaj Island, Abraj Al Lulu, Al Juffair, Al Reef Island, Durrat Al Bahrain, Durrat Marina and Hoora.
Moreover, according to the law, freehold does not only apply to real estate, foreigners can now acquire 100% ownership of businesses in Bahrain as well.
The real estate market in Bahrain has seen considerable growth over the past couple of years as a result of these new laws, with a significant rise in foreign investment in both businesses and residential developments.
The market is expected to continue to grow, reclaimed land being another game changer. Growing number of licenses have been issued to new developments on reclaimed land and investors are very interested in properties built there. One of the reasons being that most reclaimed land developments are freehold.
There is also a cost advantage to buying property in Bahrain as opposed to other cities. You can buy a villa in Bahrain for the same price of an apartment in some other GCC countries. Although prices have seen a significant rise over the past years as a result of the real estate market change, they are still more affordable compared with other luxury destinations in the region. Additionally, there is an estimated 8% tax free return on investment. And if the property was rented, the rent is tax free in Bahrain.
Even more, when expats purchase properties in Bahrain they are eligible to apply for a permanent residency permit. The residency is for the owner as well as the spouse of the owner, provided that the spouse does not work in Bahrain.
An expat can now start a business in Bahrain. Buy property in Bahrain. And raise a family in the top living destination for expats. Put together, these reasons, which were more or less derived from the same law, definitely made a huge impact on the real estate market in Bahrain.