The European Union has signed a landmark agreement with the United Arab Emirates which will allow citizens to travel between the territories on a visa-free basis. Market analysts and real estate professionals predict that this will stimulate purchases of Spanish property as it will facilitate investment for Emirati nationals.
The new agreement between the EU and UAE will allow for a visa-free stay of up to 90 days every 180 days, approximately 3 months of every six months. The reason for the stay can be business, leisure, scientific, cultural or family visits although it is not possible to travel in order to carry out a paid activity under the arrangement.
The allure of Marbella
Buyers from the Middle East have had a presence in the Spanish property market for many years although traditionally their interest has been focused on Andalucia and specifically the area around Marbella. This is still largely the case as the glamour and international appeal of Marbella, as well as its investment potential, trump other parts of the country.
This view is echoed by Pia Arrieta, the Managing Director at DIana Morales Properties | Knight Frank who states that “UAE citizens have always been very fond of Marbella, both as a touristic and residential destination, and this new travel agreement can only improve this relationship making it easier for them to come to Marbella on a regular basis.”
DM Properties, a leading luxury estate agency based in Marbella and an international associate of Knight Frank, has already registered a rise in Emirati demand over the last 12 months according to Miss Arrieta: “We have seen an increase in sales to clients from the UAE in the past year, mainly looking for villas and apartments on Marbella’s Golden Mile and close to Puerto Banús.”
“The feedback we receive from our clients is that they feel at ease in Marbella, as it is a safe town, well communicated, offers a wide range of leisure activities for the whole family as well as exclusive shops with long opening hours, and they always receive top quality customer service.”
Dollar exchange rate lift
A factor which has no doubt contributed to this increase in demand from the UAE over the past year is the strength of the dollar against the Euro. The Emirati Dirham is pegged to the dollar so the recent fluctuations in the exchange rates have made the acquisition of a Spanish property significantly cheaper for those from the UAE.
Just a year ago €1 was trading at $1.36 while today €1 will exchange for around $1.11. This means this time last year a €400,000 property would have cost approximately $544,000 while today the same property would cost around $444,000, a huge $100,000 saving which can only add to the draw of Spanish property.
It is therefore expected that the EU-UAE agreement will cause further increases in sales to Emirati nationals, particularly at the luxury end of the market. The new visa regulations came into force on the 6th of May although for now only on a provisional basis while the agreement is studied by the European Parliament for final approval.