24 June 2008

* No automatic residency for property buyers in Dubai

Property buyers should not expect an automatic residence visa upon purchasing property in Dubai, a top official clarified.

"There is no direct link between property ownership and residence visas. Developers should not lure investors to property sector with a promise of residence visa," Marwan Bin Galita, chief executive of Dubai's Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) told Gulf News on Monday.

Bin Galita said a proposal has been submitted to the concerned authorities to issue property investors a visit visa that allows them to travel in and out of the country to follow up their investments in the property market.

"The suggestion, if approved, might be implemented at a federal level, especially that the local laws of most emirates allow foreign ownership of property.

"The visit visa could replace the residence visa, which was issued by some developers in Dubai for those who bought property in their projects."

Bin Galita said the suggested visa is similar to visas issued by foreign countries for property investors as in the US there are more than 250 kinds of visas.

"Those visas will be of many kinds. For example, it could be for two weeks for the person to come and collect the rent or it could be for another specific time to follow up the issue of the investment," he said.

"The visa will have various privileges in line with the size of the investor's investments, and expires once the owned property is sold. Those who earlier acquired residence visas linked to their properties, could have their status amended, should the new legislation take effect," he said.

He added that if the suggestion was approved, then the visa for those who own properties here and want to enter the country will be applied through the residency department and it will be issued in accordance to the volume of the investment also.

"We have to think about the future and about all the possibilities," he added.
He said there is a need to regulate this matter and to look at it from all the sides in order to avoid any problems in the future. "Investors must understand that owning property in Dubai is not a pre-requisite for having a residence visa," he said.

"I need to repeat to people not to mix between the residency visa issue and buying property," he said.
Major General Mohammad Ahmad Al Merri told Gulf News there is nothing called "own property and get life-long residency visa".

He said there are rules for issuing residency visa or visit visa and those rules and regulations are from the Ministry of Interior and nobody else. "We are not dealing with property owners. We are issuing our visas as usual as per the law," he said.

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Lebanon Time-Line

Introducing Lebanon

Coolly combining the ancient with the ultramodern, Lebanon is one of the most captivating countries in the Middle East. From the Phoenician findings of Tyre (Sour) and Roman Baalbek's tremendous temple to Beirut's BO18 and Bernard Khoury's modern movement, the span of Lebanon's history leaves many visitors spinning. Tripoli (Trablous) is considered to have the best souk in the country and is famous for its Mamluk architecture. It's well equipped with a taste of modernity as well; Jounieh, formerly a sleepy fishing village, is a town alive with nightclubs and glitz on summer weekends.

With all of the Middle East's best bits - warm and welcoming people, mind-blowing history and considerable culture, Lebanon is also the antithesis of many people's imaginings of the Middle East: mostly mountainous with skiing to boot, it's also laid-back, liberal and fun. While Beirut is fast becoming the region's party place, Lebanon is working hard to recapture its crown as the 'Paris of the Orient'.

The rejuvenation of the Beirut Central District is one of the largest, most ambitious urban redevelopment projects ever undertaken. Travellers will find the excitement surrounding this and other developments and designs palpable - and very infectious.

Finally, Lebanon's cuisine is considered the richest of the region. From hummus to hommard (lobster), you'll dine like a king. With legendary sights, hospitality, food and nightlife, what more could a traveller want?

Introducing Beirut

What Beirut is depends entirely on where you are. If you’re gazing at the beautifully reconstructed colonial relics and mosques of central Beirut’s Downtown, the city is a triumph of rejuvenation over disaster.

If you’re in the young, vibrant neighbourhoods of Gemmayzeh or Achrafiye, Beirut is about living for the moment: partying, eating and drinking as if there’s no tomorrow. If you’re standing in the shadow of buildings still peppered with bullet holes, or walking the Green Line with an elderly resident, it’s a city of bitter memories and a dark past. If you’re with Beirut’s Armenians, Beirut is about salvation; if you’re with its handful of Jews, it’s about hiding your true identity. Here you’ll find the freest gay scene in the Arab Middle East, yet homosexuality is still illegal. If you’re in one of Beirut’s southern refugee camps, Beirut is about sorrow and displacement; other southern districts are considered a base for paramilitary operations and south Beirut is home to infamous Hezbollah secretary general, Hassan Nasrallah. For some, it’s a city of fear; for others, freedom.

Throw in maniacal drivers, air pollution from old, smoking Mercedes taxis, world-class universities, bars to rival Soho and coffee thicker than mud, political demonstrations, and swimming pools awash with more silicone than Miami. Add people so friendly you’ll swear it can’t be true, a political situation existing on a knife-edge, internationally renowned museums and gallery openings that continue in the face of explosions, assassinations and power cuts, and you’ll find that you’ve never experienced a capital city quite so alive and kicking – despite its frequent volatility.