Tax exemption scheme, affordable mortgages and business opportunities are great incentives
Maria Shurshalina, a 20-year-old Russian from Sverdlovsk, has seen the chart take off since landing in Dubai six months ago. The fashionable marketer with smart aviators, who loves luxurious perfumes, became a successful real estate broker in record time. Its success reflects Russia’s growing interest in the emirate. The savvy broker has sold more than 92 properties, including apartments, villas and townhouses, in recent weeks to Russian investors.
“As a conservative estimate, property prices jumped over 30% in Palm Jumeirah, Downtown, Dubai Marina, Jumeirah Beach Residence and Dubai Hills. Russians love the sun and sand in Dubai and the United Arab Emirates. But they are also savvy investors,” says Maria.
Buyers see a lot of value for money. The emirate’s ease of doing business, tax-free regime and affordable mortgage plans are big incentives for Russians looking to buy a home away from home.
Brokers assume at least 100,000 Russians have arrived in Dubai since the start of the Ukraine crisis, doubling the size of the community. Many newcomers are also considering homes in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah, where Russian signs on shops and restaurants have been commonplace over the years.
Maria weighs in on the benefits. “A Dh750,000 investment in a property secures a three-year residency while a larger investment can secure the longer-term Golden Visa for my compatriots.” Take the case of Roman Igonin, a Moscow entrepreneur who first arrived in Dubai five years ago and fell in love with the emirate.
“I must have visited Dubai at least 10 times since. The time has come to open businesses here as I own two properties in Downtown and The Palm. Roman plans to start a chain of dental clinics in Dubai – at least five to start. He wants to focus on Dubai Hills, Business Bay and Dubai Marina.
Alessia Sheglova, CEO of Dacha Real Estate, has lived in the United Arab Emirates since 1994 at the age of seven when her mother, Angelika, moved to Sharjah, except for a few years when she pursued higher education in Canada.
“My mother started her own business shortly after moving here. His business was centered on sending freight containers to Russia; At that time, Deira was the hub of activity. Alessia’s own company was established in 2004.
“Initially, everything was fine, as Russians were flocking to Dubai, and many were keen to invest in real estate,” says the alumnus of the Sharjah-based International School of Choueifat.
Celebrities, lawyers, students, artists and professionals, they are all drawn to Dubai. All have a role model in the person of Pavel Durov, the Dubai-based founder of the Telegram messaging app. Last year, Durov was named the richest resident of the United Arab Emirates by Forbes with a wealth of $17.2 billion, up from $3.4 billion in 2020. Durov was the first resident of the United Arab Emirates united to be ranked among the top 200 billionaires in the world.
Russian broker Denis Scvortsov has lived in Dubai since 2011 but joined real estate two years later. He works largely on off-plan projects. His client, Pavel S, sums up the Russian story: “Usually I visit Dubai twice a year. I thought about investing in real estate for a long time. My wife and I intended to buy a property in 2020, but unfortunately we were unable to achieve this. Now we have almost been pushed by the situation in our country. We had to move our savings to another country, and we chose Dubai and the United Arab Emirates because it is one of the few destinations welcoming Russians.
Was Dubai his first choice? “My wife and I had also considered Turkey. But now Dubai seems like the best bet. Similarly, Ksenia V moved to Dubai in April due to the crisis.
“I sold my property in Russia and was looking for alternative places where I could invest. Dubai is one of the best cities in the world. (It’s) not far from Russia… so that was a no-brainer. D Elsewhere, some of my friends had bought a property in Dubai and I decided to join them,” she says.
Ruslan S, who moved to Dubai in March, is optimistic: “I see a lot of potential in Dubai, including attractive payment plans. A stable currency and access to the sea made me switch to Dubai, a truly modern city with extraordinary civic amenities. Soon I plan to move the business here.
Andrei Sivkov is a professional with more than 20 years of experience, 15 of which in international energy companies. He moved to Dubai in 2013 to join an oil company. “Although my wife and I fell in love with Dubai almost instantly, we decided to stay after my first work contract ended. Tax-free earnings, good international business opportunities and security make Dubai a top choice. Prime for investment, Andrei is impressed with Dubai’s child-friendly environment, multiculturalism, religious tolerance, access to the sea and luxury resorts.
Natalia Remmer, a journalist who has lived in Dubai for more than 10 years, says Russians have been investing in properties in Dubai since freehold options were made available more than 15 years ago.
“The United Arab Emirates is a friendly country for Russian investors because they can invest in real estate with fewer restrictions. Although Turkey offers citizenship against investments, the United Arab Emirates is also a preferred destination. The Russian community is growing day by day and many people, who may live in Moscow and Geneva, are investing in off-plan properties to diversify their investment portfolio. They feel that not only their property but also their privacy will be protected by law in the United Arab Emirates, and the children will feel safe in this country which celebrates multiculturalism, business opportunities and religious tolerance.
Evgeniy Morozov, who began his career as a classical violinist in the United Arab Emirates more than 20 years ago, has since moved into hospitality and event management. He is the star attraction of most evenings at Chalet Berezka. His personal touch and affable nature are on display as he mesmerizes diners while real estate deals are done over sumptuous meals in the gourmet restaurant. Morozov was the mastermind behind major headlines by performers and entertainers from Russia and the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) at the annual PaRUS international music festival in Dubai.
Kirill Mishanin and Irina Mishanin, from Krasnoyarsk (Russia) and Sverdlovsak (Ukraine respectively), married in Moscow in November 2020. Kirill, co-founder of asset management fund Infodriver Capital and investment advisory firm blockchain, booked an off-plan property for 1.3 million dirhams through Azizi Developers about nine months ago, while Irina moved in April and is going into lifestyle consulting while honing her fluency from English.
“I made a 30% down payment and the rest by mortgage,” says Kirill. He also moved his parents to Dubai, who are currently living in a rented villa. Irina, who has always wanted to live by the sea, is overwhelmed by Dubai and is also considering bringing her mother.
The Borisovs – husband Vsevolod, wife Anna and their three-year-old daughter Nika – lived in a two-bedroom apartment in Jumeirah Lakes Towers (JLT) ahead of Expo 2020 Dubai. Vsevolod, who works as a solutions architect at UWill Global, belongs to Moscow. Anna is a self-proclaimed entrepreneur who offers marketing services. The Borisovs will wait and watch the real estate market until their rental lease expires on October 31.
Vsevolod is acutely aware that “the real estate segment in Dubai can be volatile due to socio-political trends across the globe.” However, he is willing to hedge his bets and is likely to invest after being convinced of a good price.
The Borisovs are a glorious exception to their compatriots, watching and waiting for the real right moment. They know they are in the right place.