Dubai government starts initiative of ‘virtual registry’ to protect Indian investment in UAE
Statistics* show that over the last 5 years, Indians invested AED 83.65 billion in Dubai and ranked second, only to UAE citizens, in 2017 as top investors in the Dubai real estate market. With such substantial financial stakes in Dubai, Indian investors who may be living overseas or even in Dubai, often face logistical challenges or the uncertainty of how to secure their assets and inheritance wishes.
Many Indian investors who are overseas or even residents of Dubai and/or its sister emirate Ras Al Khaimah are not aware that as per local UAE law, if a Will is not registered in Dubai, their Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah assets will not be passed on to their chosen beneficiaries. In such cases, Sharia principles are applied with specified blood relatives receiving pre-determined allocations.
Since May 2015, the DIFC Wills Service Centre (‘WSC’), a public entity of the Dubai Government, has provided non-Muslim residents and overseas investors with assets in Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah the option to choose the DIFC Courts as a reliable route through which to enforce their inheritance wishes. WSC’s first-of-its-kind ‘Virtual Registry’ gives eligible investors living outside of the UAE the ability to create, register, and witness a Will for their Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah assets from anywhere in the world.
The Virtual Registry is a smart government service that for the first time empowers global investors and asset owners wanting to register a Will to do so from the location of their choice. Assisted by a team of DIFC specialists, those registering their Will can complete the entire process via their laptop or smartphone.
Indians are the largest user of the service:
- 2015: 179
- 2016: 403
- 2017: 531 (36%)
10% of Will owners were born in Kerala, 30% in Mumbai
Free Identity Verification services provided by VFS Global as part of the Will registration process
In November 2017, the WSC entered into a partnership with VFS Global, the world leader in visa and consular services, to provide verification services to non-residents of the UAE as part of their Will registration process. The added protection gives WSC’s customers the certain knowledge that their Will cannot be disputed at a later date on the grounds that someone impersonated them at the time of signing.
The identity verification process can be completed post registration by visiting a VFS Global application centre in any of its 137 countries of operation, or by setting by up an appointment for a VFS Global representative to complete the identity check at the person’s home or office (if located within a reasonable distance from an application centre).
Presenting at the event, Mr. Sean Hird, Director – DIFC Wills Service Centre, said, “Recent reports indicate growing concern with the number of Wills that are disputed. Our partnership with VFS Global enables us to offer registrants an extra level of security to prevent future challenges to their Will. We are offering this extra comfort as more of our customers choose to register on-line Wills via our Virtual Registry service. Global investors and former residents living overseas will now be safe in the knowledge that their Wills covering Dubai and Ras Al Khaimah based assets will not be challenged on the grounds of false identity.”
Also commenting, Mr. Vinay Malhotra, Chief Operating Officer, South Asia & Middle East, VFS Global,said, “We are honoured to provide specialised identity verification for Virtual Registry customers on behalf of DIFC Wills Service Centre. Through our vast network across India, DIFC WSC’s customers will be able to verify their identity for free as an extra security measure in any of the 17 cities in which we operate – either at one of our application centres, or in their home or office. We are confident that our identity verification services will minimise risks of future disputes, and increase the level of reassurance for international customers securing their Dubai and/or Ras Al Khaimah owned assets through DIFC WSC.”