Find a Lawyer
Search
Menu

Regional Real Estate Sector Measures in the face of COVID-19

Published: 17/05/2020

Our Real Estate team are keeping abreast of the latest developments and initiatives in respect of the real estate and hotels industries being released by governments across the region, in order to provide you with a simple guide to regional activity.

For any queries, please reach out to Tara Marlow, Partner, Head of Real Estate, Hotels & Leisure – t.marlow@tamimi.com

Country Latest developments/initiatives

United Arab Emirates

Dubai Dubai Judicial Council:

  • Temporary suspension on all eviction judgments related to residential and commercial facilities in Dubai was initially for the months of March and April 2020 (except in case of abandoned homes).
  • Suspension of all “imprisonment judgments” linked to rental disputes.
  • We have received verbal confirmation from the head of Tenancy eviction execution department on 4 May 2020 that the suspension on eviction and imprisonment judgments has been extended until further notice.

Dubai Government:

  • Launched an AED 1.5 billion economic stimulus package to support companies and the business sector in Dubai.
  • Commercial licenses can be renewed without mandatory renewal of lease agreements.
  • Reduction of municipality fees imposed on sales at hotels from 7% to 3.5%.
  • Freeze on fees for the rating of hotels.

Dubai Land Department/ RERA:

  • Launched a new CSR initiative called “Together”, in cooperation with several jointly owned property management companies in Dubai to support tenants and landlords.
  • RERA shall provide necessary life supplies (such as food, medicine, sterilisation materials, gloves, paper napkins, and face masks) free of charge to those in need in various projects and freehold areas across Dubai.
  • The management companies shall consider additional measures including cancellation of fines for 2019 and 2020, provision of flexible instalments to pay service fees, reduction of service costs, and flexible payment options for air conditioning services.

Dubai Free Zones Council:

  • Launched an economic stimulus package to compliment the Dubai Government’s efforts to overcome the current COVID 19 situation and include the following initiatives:
    • Postponement of rent payments by a period of 6 months.
    • Refund of security deposits and guarantees.
    • Facilitating payment by way of installments.
    • Cancellation of fines on corporates and individuals.
    • Applicable to the free zones including DIFC, JAFZA, DAFZA, DSOA, DWTC, Dubai South, Meydan, DMCC, DDA.

Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC):

  • Free base rent for retail tenants from April to June 2020 in DIFC owned locations (Gate Avenue, Gate Village and Gate District).
  • Deferred payment plans shall be available to tenants with respect to all properties owned by DIFC Investments for a period of up to 6 months.
  • Reduction on property transfer fees from 5% to 4% for any sale of property (or any part thereof) that took place within April – June 2020 and if the transfer is registered with the DIFC Registrar of Properties, at the latest, within 30 days after the expiry of the said 3 months’ period.

Dubai Multi Commodities Centre:

  • 100% waiver for all Flexi Desk and DMCC Business Centre penalties until the end of 2020.
  • 100% waiver of the Office Sharing Permit fee.
  • Waiver of outdoor area rents for JLT retailers with existing contracts, where DMCC is the building owner/landlord.
  • Waiver of rent for 2 months (starting from 1 April 2020 until 31 May 2020) for commercial establishments impacted by the latest Dubai Economy directive requiring a temporary closure, where DMCC is the building owner/landlord.
  • A 3 months’ suspension of rent (starting from 1 April 2020 until 30 June 2020 unless stated otherwise) for Flexi Desk and DMCC Business Centre tenants renewals or monthly/quarterly instalment with no discount.

DP World (including JAFZA, National Industries Park, Dubai Auto Zone):

  • All businesses operating in DP World or any of its Parks can defer their rental payment for 2 months and pay with easier instalments effective from 1 April 2020.

Dubai Silicon Oasis Authority:

  • Retail tenants:
    • Rent waivers to the retail sector affected by the closure of businesses, including restaurants, shops, and gyms at DSOA-owned buildings, starting from March 15 2020 until the government allows retail outlets to reopen.
    • The retail sector will receive discounts of up to 10% of the rental value upon renewal, and an additional 5% discount on the annual rent, if paid on time and in 1 installment.
    • Marketing fees shall be reduced by 25% and deferred for up to 3 months.
  • Start-ups based at Dubai Technology Entrepreneur Campus (wholly owned by DSOA):
    • Will receive the option for deferred rent payments for up to 3 months, and a 5% discount on their annual rent, if paid on time and in one installment.
    • On renewal of tenancy contracts, flexi desk and fixed desk tenants can enjoy the option of paying their rents in up to 6 installments.
  • Corporate tenants:
    • Companies will be able to postpone rent payments for 3 months with effect from April 2020.
    • DSOA has issued a waiver on all late payment fees until 31 August 2020 and shall grant a 5% discount on annual rent subject to timely payment by way of 1 cheque.
    • New companies establishing their offices in DSOA for the first time shall be offered a grace period on monthly rent payments until end of May 2020, and a discount of up to 10% on the monthly rent.
  • Residential tenants:
    • Existing residential tenants at DSOA have the option of paying their rents monthly and a new rental structure has also been activated.
    • DSOA shall defer all new and existing lease payments for up to 2 months and provide flexible payment plans for the remainder of the lease duration.
    • DSOA shall waive cheque retrieval fees on bounced checks for first offenders.
    • Residential villa tenants can benefit from a discount of AED 5,000, while other residential tenants receive a discount of AED 2,000, if they pay the annual rent as one deposit.

Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority:

  • Launched incentive packages to provide financial relief to companies based in the free zone.
  • DAFZA will permit postponement of lease payments for up to 3 months and allow payments to be made in monthly installments.
  • Retailers in the free zone are exempt from lease payments for up to 3 months.
  • DAFZA shall refund security deposits on all leased spaces within the free zone.

Dubai World Trade Centre Authority (DWTCA):

  • Retail tenants in Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre and One Central shall be exempt from payment of base rent for a period up to 6 months (April to September 2020).
  • Commercial SMEs and start-up tenants in DWTCA will be permitted to defer the payment of base rent for a period of up to 3 months (April to June 2020).

Dubai Healthcare City Authority (DHCA):

  • Launched a business relief package for the free zone including the following real estate initiatives:
    • outpatient clinics, education providers, hospitality and support services located in DHCA owned properties shall benefit from conditional rental waivers for 3 months, deferred rental payments for a stipulated period, and reduced fees and waivers for certain services.
    • 3 months free rent for F&B outlets operating in DHCA owned properties.
Abu Dhabi Abu Dhabi Government:

  • Launch of Ghadan21 which includes 16 initiatives under Abu Dhabi economic stimulus package which include the following real estate centric recommendations:
    • No charge of individual or commercial real estate registration fees;
    • No Tawtheeq fees for commercial and industrial activities in the year 2020;
    • 25% reduction in industrial land leasing fees for new contracts;
    • Up to 20% rebate on rentals for the restaurant, tourism and entertainment sectors;
    • Tourism and municipality fees for the tourism and entertainment sectors suspended for 2020.

Abu Dhabi Judicial Department:

  • cessation of all existing rental property eviction cases, together with executive procedures such as imprisonment, blocking of bank accounts, and seizure of vehicles, stocks and assets for a period of 2 months ending on 15 May 2020.

ADGM:

  • Deferment of rental payments and service charges for office tenants at ADGM Square on Al Maryah Island for 2020.

Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (ADDED):

  • Launched a new digital service for all restaurants, tourism and entertainment facilities (excluding hotels) located in Abu Dhabi to apply for a 20% refund on the annual rental value of their commercial property leases which commenced from September 2019 or applicable to leases which have been renewed between 1 April 2020 and 30 September 2020 regardless of the signing date.
  • For cases where the rent consists of fixed rent and turnover rent, the refund shall be applicable for the fixed rent only.
  • Tenants can submit the refund request on the ADDED website (’20 per cent Rental Rebate Initiative Registration’ page).
  • Rent to own contracts are excluded.
Ras Al Khaimah Government of Ras Al Khaimah –Ruler’s Court:

  • Postponement of eviction procedures of family residential premises.
  • The travel ban measurement of a debtor is to be replaced with confinement.
  • Suspension of execution procedures on moveables, properties, shares and bonds.

Ras Al Khaimah Tourism Development Authority (RAKTDA):

  • Creation of an internal Stimulus Committee to enact initiatives to support the hospitality industry which include the following measures:
    • 6 months’ waiver of all touristic licenses;
    • waiver of tourism dirham from March to May 2020;
    • exemption of tourism licensing fees for Q2 and Q3, 2020 and
    • tourism licensing fines until 30 September 2020.
  • RAKTDA has also launched a financial incentive package geared towards non-government owned establishments including budget, midscale and 4 star hotels, along with attractions, golf courses and other tourism establishments.
Sharjah Sharjah Executive Council:

  • Launched a 47 points stimulus package with suggested recommendations to support the Sharjah economy which includes:
    • Resolutions may be issued relating to suspension of eviction judgments and imprisonment rulings on all rental-related cases.
    • Exemption from rent for tenants in Buildings (1 and 2) of the Sharjah Chamber of Commerce and Industry for a period of 3 months effective from 1 April 2020.
    • Exemption for (a) tenants of Expo Centre Sharjah and (b) participants in the Sharjah Centre for Export Development’s permanent national industries exhibition, from payment of rent for a period of 3 months effective from 1 April 2020.
    • Exemption for employees of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in 101 Trade Centre from payment of rent until the end of 2020.
    • Exemption for hotel establishments from payment of the 5% municipal fees for a period of three months effective from 1 April 2020.
    • Exemption for hotel establishments from accumulated prior violations imposed by the Sharjah Commerce and Tourism Development Authority, during the year 2019 until 31 March 2020.
    • Suspension of all pending rental property eviction cases together with executive procedures such as imprisonment, blocking of bank accounts, and seizure of vehicles, stocks and assets for a period of two months.
    • Deferment of all current and new cases before the rental committees for 1 month.
    • Release of approx. 100 prisoners imprisoned on rental issues and provision of a 3 months’ period to settle overdue amounts.
    • 50% reduction in rents for restaurants, exchange shops, commercial shops, banks, travel agencies, car rental companies, telecommunications companies and tourist promotion companies for a period of 3 months from 1 April 2020.
Ajman Sheikh Ammar bin Humaid Al Nuaimi, Crown Prince of Ajman and chairman of the Executive Council:

  • Cancellation of administrative fines for all violations of real estate registration renewals.
  • Exemption of registration fees for hotels and tourism establishments until end of 2020 and cancellation of penalties and postponement of payment of fines due at the end of the 2020.

Ajman Department of Economic Development:

  • Renewal of the licenses of economic entities permitted without the need to submit a lease for the entity’s premises for a duration of 3 months, provided that the lease  is submitted within a month from expiration of the license.
Fujairah Resolution No. 04 of 2020 regarding exemption from local licensing fees and taxes for the current year:

  • Certain activities are exempted for a year, from payment of licensing fees relating to cinemas, gaming centres and stores located in Shopping malls, hotels, fitness centres, health clubs, wedding halls, and men’s and women’s salons. The exemption commences on 1st January continuing until 31st December 2020.
  • Resorts, hotels, and hotel apartments are exempted from the prescribed local tax.
Umm Al Quwain Resolution No. 3 for 2020 exempting licensed local establishments affected by the suspension of services from fees and fines:

  • All licensed establishments and companies affected by the decision to suspend their services are exempt from paying fees to the Umm Al Quwain government, such as fees for renewing licenses and rental contracts, and other fees or fines incurred that are determined by the Executive Council, until further notice.

Oman

Supreme Committee:

  • Owners of commercial centres and owners of commercial real estate are encouraged to reduce or postpone rent in coordination with the competent authorities.
  • The Oman Tax Authority announced it would provide relief to taxpayers affected by COVID-19. The tax measures are as follows:
    • Exemption from Tourist and Municipal Tax (rate 4%) for restaurants until 31 August 2020; and
    • Exemption from Municipal Tax (rate 5%) for commercial establishments until 31 August 2020.

Qatar

We are not aware of any regulations or announcements by the government or any regulatory bodies in Qatar in respect COVID-19 relating to real estate.

Nevertheless, there have been various announcements from a number of master developers and landlords regarding rent relief for the benefit of tenants for periods ranging from 3 to 6 months.

Kuwait

We are not aware of any regulations or announcements by the government or any regulatory bodies in Kuwait in respect COVID-19 relating to real estate.

Bahrain

Bahrain Government:

  • Launched an economic stimulus to support businesses and citizen including the following real estate initiatives:
    • Paying individuals’ and businesses’ Electricity and Water Authority utility bills for 3 months from April 2020 (up to the costs incurred during the same period in 2019); Exemption for all individuals and businesses from municipality fees for 3 months from April 2020;
    • Payment of salaries from the unemployment fund of all Bahraini private-sector employees for 3 months starting April 2020;
    • Exemption for all businesses from industrial land rental fees for 3 months from April 2020; and
    • Exemption for all tourism related industry entities from tourism levies for 3 months from April 2020.
  • Bahrain Ministry of Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning:
    • The collection of rents and allowances from all tenants of municipal properties has been suspended for 3 months, starting in April 2020.
    • Works, Municipalities Affairs and Urban Planning Minister Essam bin Abdullah Khalaf pointed out that this action will include all users of municipal property in supermarkets, stand owners, and tenants of small shops in the malls and municipal shops.
  • Survey and Land Registration Bureau (SLRB):
    • The milestone of the SLRB being able to provide all of its services online was reached on 29 April 2020 after its president Shaikh Salman bin Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa launched electronic real estate registrations and mortgage applications.
  • Bahrain Government:
    • His Royal Highness Prince Khalifa bin Salman Al Khalifa, the Prime Minister, ordered the suspension for 3 months of the collection of rents from tenants and beneficiaries from leased shops and lands registered in the name of the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE), from our review, the government are yet to confirm when this policy will come into force.

Egypt

Financial Regulatory Authority (FRA):

  • Postponement of all payments due to real estate mortgage companies and financial leasing companies for 6 months starting from 18 March 2020.

Central Bank of Egypt:

  • Postponement of capitalized interest payable on all types of loans (including real estate loans) for a period of 6 months starting 15 March 2020.

Kingdom of Saudi Arabia

We are not aware of any regulations or announcements by the government or any regulatory bodies in KSA in respect COVID-19 relating to real estate.

Iraq

We are not aware of any regulations or announcements by the government or any regulatory bodies in Iraq in respect COVID-19 relating to real estate.

Jordan

We are not aware of any regulations or announcements by the government or any regulatory bodies in Jordan in respect COVID-19 relating to real estate.