UAE residents who migrated to Canada, US now moving back to Dubai: Experts

High taxes, rising prices and rents, and fewer opportunities in those countries are prompting many to return to the Emirates, say experts


Waheed Abbas

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File photo: Reuters
File photo: Reuters

Published: Thu 28 Mar 2024, 11:56 AM

Last updated: Mon 1 Apr 2024, 8:35 PM

The UAE is witnessing a reverse migration trend: More former residents, who relocated to Canada and the US for greener pastures, are returning to the country, industry experts said.

Property developers in Dubai have seen increased investments from such new Canadian and US nationals who used to live in the UAE. They are now buying homes in the emirate to move away from the high taxes, rising cost of living and fewer opportunities in the countries they initially migrated to.

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Andrew Amoils, head of research at New World Wealth, said there is indeed reverse migration to Dubai due to high taxes in Canada.

“That is true. Many wealthy expats that leave UAE return later. Tax rates in Canada are much higher than UAE which is probably a factor. Also, the winters in Canada are very long – a lot of centi-millionaires and billionaires from Canada eventually move to USA due to climate. UAE is, of course, another option with nice climate,” said Amoils.

Imran Farooq, CEO of Samana Developers, said the increase in the number of buyers from Canada and the US was "a completely new trend".

“There is a kind of reverse migration from Canada, which was among the top migration countries. But now reverse migration trend has started due to economic slowdown and law and order there. Canadians now account for around 5 to 6 per cent of investors in Samana’s projects,” he said.

Many UAE expatriates from South Asia, Southeast Asia and Arab countries had migrated to Canada, the US and other Western countries over the past decade in search of greener pastures and to obtain stronger passports. But the public safety and security aspect, quality of life, and shorter flights to see loved ones are encouraging them to return to the UAE.

This has driven higher demand for properties from such expatriates who are mainly end users in the emirate’s residential property market.

Rising prices, rent in Canada

In addition, the cost of living in Canada increased substantially last year, mainly driven by a jump in rents. This put Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau under pressure, prompting him to address the issue in the upcoming budget.

Rizwan Sajan, chairman of Danube Group and Danube Properties, said people who didn’t live in the UAE and migrated to Canada and the US might stay there, but those who migrated from the UAE, after spending some time here, are coming back.

“Most of our Canadian buyers are desi Canadians from India and Pakistan who lived in the UAE and then migrated there. People there pay up to 40 to 50 per cent of their income in taxes. But there is no income tax here in the UAE. The way the UAE pampers its residents, other countries don’t. Therefore, people are attracted back to the UAE after getting the passport,” he added.

Citing an example, he said that in the UAE, people can get tea and even petrol delivered to their homes within minutes — something that doesn’t happen anywhere in the world.

He revealed that these new Canadian nationals returning to the UAE have invested in most of Danube's projects, including the latest Bayz 101 projects.

Farooq added that the US was not a big segment among foreign investors before; but now, buyers from the Americas are also increasing in big numbers, accounting for nearly 13 per cent of foreign investors in his projects.

“The demand for Golden Visa was very strong from Europe and now we are getting from the US also,” said the Samana CEO.

He, however, ruled out a slowdown in the Dubai property market this year, saying there is a strong demand for properties, especially with Dh2-million ticket size due to Golden Visa eligibility. He also added that land prices are consistently on the rise.


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