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Dubai Unlocked Looks Into Property Ownership, Local Report Says Malaysians Too Love Buying Properties There

Dubai Unlocked Looks Into Property Ownership, Local Report Says Malaysians Too Love Buying Properties There

Dubai is a haven for alleged criminals on the run due to its lack of extradition treaty and opaque laws.

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Dubai Unlocked, an investigative project involving more than 70 media outlets globally, looked into property ownership in Dubai and alleged that many people worldwide who own properties in Dubai are shady characters.

The list however does not include any Malaysian names.

According to the reports on the leaked documents, it’s alleged that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) authorities pick and choose which individuals to extradite back to their origin country based on the individual’s alleged benefit to the country.

The UAE does not have an extradition treaty with the European Union, the United States, Germany, and many other countries, making Dubai a safe haven for wanted criminal suspects.

Dubai’s Burj Al Arab is near the Palm Jumeirah. For illustration purposes. Image: TRP File

Radha Stirling, an attorney and human rights advocate who leads the legal assistance organization Detained in Dubai, said the authorities use high-profile fugitives as “bargaining chips.”

The presence of extradition agreements between nations are not necessarily key to whether or not people are extradited. What matters is what Dubai wants in return and whether that nation has something they want enough to barter.

Radha Stirling, an attorney and human rights advocate for Detained in Dubai

Moreover, Dubai has no personal income tax for gains from the digital currency exchange for residents such as cryptocurrency. In Malaysia, one can be taxed up to 30% for the same thing.

Since they do not have to pay income tax, it was said that some individuals began declaring all their financial activities there despite their expenses being tracked.

They can convert their digital currency into fiat money tax-free and invest in anything they want. This loophole lets unsavoury characters exploit it to make more money and live luxuriously without fearing authorities.

*Fiat money is a government-issued currency that is not tied to a commodity like gold.


How do they get to own properties there if they are “outlaws”?

In March, SVT reporters went on an undercover consultation with a salesperson from leading Dubai real estate firm Damac and found that people could pay in bags of cash or cryptocurrency to buy a flat with zero questions about their funds.

No department, especially the property developers themselves, will question the funds and anyone who can buy a property can buy.

These alleged criminals do not conduct violent crimes in Dubai but launder money instead. Think of it like a retirement home for criminals.

The representatives of the United Arab Emirates’ Foreign Office and the Dubai Land Department did not respond to requests for comments.

However, the UAE Embassy in Oslo issued a statement and said the allegations about Dubai property ownership records are “factually inaccurate.”

The UAE operates clear regulatory frameworks that comply with international laws and standards designed to combat financial crime. Dubai Land Department processes and activities are a cornerstone of these efforts.

UAE Embassy in Oslo

Many Malaysians own properties in Dubai too

Malaysiakini, one of the many media outlets working on Dubai Unlocked, reported that more than 300 Malaysians are listed as property owners in Dubai.

The leaked data showed that 342 Malaysians owned a total of 548 units in Dubai in 2020 and 2022 with an estimated total value of RM1.24 billion (US$262,398,932).

The properties linked to Malaysian owners are within the Burj Khalifa and the Palm Jumeirah areas.

The properties in the Burj Khalifa area include Burj Vista Tower 1, The Address Residences Dubai Opera T2, Vision Tower 1, and South Ridge-Podium Villas East.

Each building has an estimated value between US$1.4 million to US$1.7 million per unit. However, Vision Tower 1 is the most expensive, ranging from US$7.2 million to US$7.5 million per unit.

Over at the Palm Jumeirah area, the buildings included are Balqis Residence 3, Marina Apartments 6, The Palm Tower, Golden Mile 9, Five at Palm Jumeirah Dubai, and The Residence North.

Each building has an estimated value between US$0.5 million to 1.2 million per unit except The Residence North which has an estimated value of US$2.8 million per unit.

Malaysiakini said at least six properties linked to Malaysians are located on the iconic Palm Jumeirah artificial islands. The Beckhams and Indian celebrity Shah Rukh Khan are said to own holiday homes there too.

Malaysiakini is withholding the identities of these notable owners pending their comments and has independently verified some of the leaked data by corroborating it with official government records and other sources.

These notable individuals were prominent business owners or corporate players. However, no politicians or their known proxies were found in the list.

Roughly two-thirds of Malaysian property owners have an Emirates ID, suggesting that they’re likely UAE residents in some capacity.

It’s not revealed if all Malaysian owners are wanted for crime but Dubai Unlocked’s FAQ stated that reporters omitted including celebrities and other private individuals who are found not to have links with any criminal activities.

A check on the database revealed that Malaysia is not listed under the “Region” category.

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