UAE’s latest boom – Sharjah opens up for property investors

Finally, the conservative emirates realized the diversification effort initiated by neighboring Dubai and takes the first step towards offering properties to investors from outside GCC bloc. Following Dubai’s footsteps, most other emirates already offers the opportunity for expats to buy properties within UAE. Sharjah was the exception so far. Its been rumored due to Saudi influence the rulers were hesitating to bring in the law in order to keep Sharjah’s Islamic values intact, however, capitalism wins eventually.

Anyhow, it is a very welcoming move and a great opportunity for those who missed Dubai’s property bandwagon. As Dubai’s property market has seen its good and bad times, it has pretty much consolidated now, and unless there is a major regional conflict, it will only improve hereafter. Sharjah can learn both from Ajman and Dubai to this date. Ajman being highly adventurous and ambitious made a plight to fly as high as Dubai in last decade, however, failed primarily because of recession and partly because of fundamentals. Ajman however, now is recovering with rest of the world as well as UAE in general. The other small emirates of Fujairah, RAK and Umm al Qwain are doing whatever they can in their own capacity but still has a long way to go.

Abu Dhabi on the other hand is a dynamic economy itself primarily because of oil wealth and now due to diversification in real estate and tourism. So the comparison of Abu Dhabi does not fit either with Dubai or Sharjah. Moreover, Abu Dhabi is also not a close neighbor of Dubai as Sharjah is, due to which Sharjah directly gets impacted with any positive or negative sentiments in Dubai.

Getting back to the recent law passed for Sharjah where expats holding UAE residency can buy properties in selected location on leasehold basis for 100 years. It should be noted that the news is still maturing and details are coming in, however, it is known that the first location where the leasehold is offered is strategically located on Emirates Road close to Dhaid Interchange and only 10 KMs away from Sharjah’s international Airport. For someone living and working in Dubai and aspire for quality affordable living, the aforementioned location has already raised the eyebrows. The location is perfect to travel to Dubai on freeways and at the same time away from crowded Sharjah’s city center.

The project is named “Tilal City” and helmed by Tilal Properties, a new joint venture between Sharjah Asset Management and Eskan Real Estate Development. The project’s completion date as of now is fixed on end of 2017. The project, will comprise 1800 land plots. Split into five zones, it will provide high-quality, affordable housing for 65,000 residents in apartments, villas and townhouses. Tilal City will also include commercial, office and retail space as well as multi-use community facilities, schools, mosques and landscaped open areas.

With rising cost of Dubai properties and better opportunities in Dubai while comparatively low cost of living in Sharjah people normally choose to live in Sharjah and work in Dubai. However, many people are reluctant because of travel time between Sharjah and Dubai specially during peak hours. The strategic location of Tilal city will ensure that the travel time to Dubai remains less while affordable better quality of properties are available. It makes sense as of now to invest in Sharjah, not only because Sharjah itself is growing and has diverse economy based on industry and tourism, but primarily because of proximity to Dubai, this kind of option was never available.


Home Remittance from GCC countries to India and Pakistan

The GCC bloc has been a magnet for all kind of workers from white to blue collars from all over the world because of tax free income and low cost of living compared to the western countries (although the cheap cost of living is now just a myth). Geographically, South Asian countries like Pakistan, Bangladesh, India, Nepal etc are close to GCC countries resulting the workers from these places fascinates to the opportunities due to rapid growth of the region and generous government spending to modernize national infrastructure.

Due to oil exploration and now for the purpose of diversified economy, spending on infrastructure has been the top reason for jobs creation in GCC region which comprises of Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. The region also enjoys the stability and relatively better rule of law compared to South Asian countries.

The expats which come to work in these countries mostly consist of construction workers and other laborers from South Asian countries. However, white collar workers are also present in large numbers which includes bankers, engineers, doctors, businessmen etc. The aim of any expat worker in a foreign land is to make money and make money rather quickly as none of the GCC countries provides permanent residence and the only way to survive in there is either with employment or business. The expat workers send money back home to support the families and investments.

Indian and Pakistani expats combined will exceed even the 50% of total population of a country like UAE, hence it will be interesting to see the trend of remittances sent by the citizens of these countries back home as a comparison.

The following should be kept under consideration while reading the data presented here:

– Remittance data for Pakistan is authentic based on the reports of State Bank of Pakistan’s (SBP) website
– Remittance data for India is not published by Reserved Bank of India (RBI), hence various sources were consulted to get accurate data as much as possible.
– There is no published authentic records of expat population from India or Pakistan and even from the hosting countries, the figure is also changing rather quickly so best sourced data in the particular time domain is taken.
– All derived data based on best sourced data can be slightly skewed but gives an overall picture. However, the data inaccuracy may not deviate +/- 10% at max.

According to SBP’s declaration of remittance to Pakistan, the top country for home remittance is USA with last year’s remittances reaching 2.46 billion USD while KSA stands on the second number where remittances accounting to almost 2.2 billion USD.

Pakistan vs Indian expats in GCC

Pakistan vs Indian expats in GCC

Chart 1: Total Pakistani expats vs Indian Expats in various GCC countries


Interestingly although as the Chart 1 shows KSA being the top remittance originator for Pakistan, Bahrain has the best Per Capita for remittance probably because of tiny population of expats there. However, India although have more expats in KSA but as can be seen from Chart 2, the per capita remittance from UAE to India is beating all peers. Indian per capita remittance touches 8,000 USD (29k AED) showing the quality of Indians working and earning in UAE are not only better off than other GCC countries but even much better than their Pakistani counterparts. This spread is further confusing when we look at the Indian domestic per capita income of 5,777 USD and Paksitan standing at 4,699 USD.


Pakistan vs Indian expats remittances from GCC countries

Pakistan vs Indian expats remittances from GCC countries

Chart 2: Annual Per Capita Remittance from GCC countries to Pakistan and India


Chart 3 indicates towards the expat Pakistani and Indian population as a percentage of total population in the country. Here, UAE is heavily occupied by the two countries, infact a total of more than 55% of population living in UAE hails from the two South Asian countries. However, despite in large numbers, the expats from India and Pakistan are still in small percentage if compared with KSA. The reason is the Saudi Arabia’s large local population itself.

Pakistan vs Indian expats percentage in GCC

Pakistan vs Indian expats percentage in GCC

Chart 3: Total Pakistani expats vs Indian Expats in various GCC countries as a percentage of local population


The next two charts compare the remittances sent to Pakistan and India VS the GDP and total population of hosting country. Showing the existing potential in other countries which has been shown already by UAE.

Pakistan vs Indian expats remittances from GCC countries VS GDP

Pakistan vs Indian expats remittances from GCC countries VS GDP

Chart 4: Total Remittances from GCC countries to India and Pakistan compared to the respective GDP


Pakistan vs Indian expats remittances from GCC countries VS Population

Pakistan vs Indian expats remittances from GCC countries VS Population

Chart 5: Total Remittances from GCC countries to India and Pakistan compared to the respective population of the country

Here it must be remembered while comparing India and Pakistan in numbers, Pakistani is yet a small country as compared to India. India is six times bigger than Pakistan in population and if we consider that, the number of Pakistanis residing in GCC countries are in higher proportion, although the per capita remittance does not show a rosy picture for Pakistan specially in UAE.

There could only be 2 reasons of low per capita remittances from Pakistan as compared to India. Either Indians are actually earning a whole lot than their Pakistani counterparts, or they are saving more to send back home. The first narrative or Indians having higher earnings is slightly supported with high numbers of Indian businesses which are having heavier weightage than mostly professional Pakistanis. However, living in GCC countries it has been noted that Indians are better in saving money and living a frugal life style compared to their Pakistani counterparts hence supporting the statistics. 

Doha vs Dubai – An expat comparison

Basically, Comparing Doha with Dubai is like comparing apples with water melon. Which looks pointless, however there are many aspects one has to take under consideration for a comparison sake of personal preference.

It has to be clearly said that if someone is comparing Doha and Dubai or for bigger horizon Qatar and UAE in general for tourism point of view, UAE takes the lead by any standard. So the following write up is only for those who are aspiring work and has a choice to move either to Doha or Dubai (Qatar or UAE) in general.

For someone who lived in Dubai for even small amount of time and than move to Doha will for sure be a depressing experience. Talking about advantages of UAE over Qatar, here are some points advocating the scenario:

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New Year Resolution (The Financial Aspect – 2014)

This happens every year, and normally people get off track pretty quickly, sometimes as quick as mid-February :).

Whatever mentioned in this blog is tried and tested, not just word of mouth !

Healthy finances are the single most driving factor of our lives and most of the times we tend to brush it under the carpet (mostly unintentionally), the term “unintentional” is used because no one wants to drain their hard-earned bucks for nothing but eventually it happens with many of us. Following tips and rule of thumb will make sure that we stick to our plans and stay financially healthy not only for next year but for the rest of our lives: Continue reading