Pakistanis Invest heavily in Dubai Real Estate: Properties Valued at USD 12.5 Billion

Pakistan's wealthy own over 17,000 properties worth $12.5 billion in Dubai, despite the country's financial crisis. The data reveals the disparity between Pakistan's economic struggles and the wealth held by its elite. The government plans to investigate potential tax evasion but acknowledges challenges in obtaining information from Dubai. Tax law applies to Pakistani residents, including overseas income, but non-residents are exempt from declaring assets abroad. However, mere property ownership does not imply financial wrongdoing or tax fraud, and several individuals have disclosed their properties to authorities.

PTI | Islamabad | Updated: 14-05-2024 22:52 IST | Created: 14-05-2024 22:52 IST
Pakistanis Invest heavily in Dubai Real Estate: Properties Valued at USD 12.5 Billion
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  • Pakistan

With cash-strapped Pakistan running from pillar to post to get loan, its rich nationals own between 17,000 to 22,000 properties worth USD 12.5 billion in Dubai, according to the leaked data used by an international consortium of journalists to access details of properties in Dubai, it emerged on Tuesday.

According to, the leaked data provides a detailed overview of hundreds of thousands of properties in Dubai and information about their ownership or usage, largely from 2020 and 2022. It was obtained by the Centre for Advanced Defence Studies (C4ADS), a non-profit organisation based in Washington, D.C., that researches international crime and conflict.

The data was then shared with Norwegian financial outlet E24 and the Organised Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which coordinated an investigative project with media outlets from around the world. Titled 'Dubai Unlocked', the collaboration includes 74 partners from 58 countries. The website reported that the details of "an astounding volume of leaked property data that includes over 17,000 properties listed as belonging to Pakistani nationals up to the spring of 2022" were known to journalists from scores of media outlets around the world.

It stated that while 17,000 Pakistani citizens are listed owners in the 2022 leak, academics using the data and additional sources put the actual number of Pakistani owners of residential property in Dubai at 22,000.

They further estimate that the apartments and villas may have been worth more than USD 10 billion at the start of 2022, but with the more than 25 per cent increase in property prices over the last two years, the real worth of Pakistanis' residential properties in Dubai could now be well above USD 12.5 billion.

''If we have the data you are talking about, as well as the information on residence status, we will make sure those who are eligible to pay tax in Pakistan on rental income or capital value are doing so,'' Malik Amjed Zubair Tiwana, chairman of the Federal Board of Revenue (FBR), was quoted as saying by the news portal.

''It may be a sensitive matter, and perhaps the law will have to change, but with political will we will go all out against tax evaders. The government is prepared for this.'' He added that ''citizenship has no importance in tax law'' as taxation is linked to residence status. ''We have been trying to get information from the immigration department of Dubai to determine tax status, but it has not materialised.'' Ali Rahim, tax lawyer and former Karachi Tax Bar Association president, said that the entire world income of resident Pakistanis is liable to be taxed in Pakistan, but they can get credit against their total tax payment for any taxes paid abroad.

Pakistani residents (those in the country for more than 183 days per year) with assets abroad have to value them at the current exchange rate and pay one per cent tax on that if the value of the asset is more than Rs 100 million. This law is being challenged in the high courts and the Supreme Court.

Non-resident or overseas Pakistanis are only liable to pay tax on income generated in Pakistan. They are not required to file a wealth statement or declare overseas assets.

Dawn also clarified that a mere mention of someone in the data is not evidence in itself of financial crime or tax fraud. Nor does the data contain information such as residence status, sources of income, tax declarations of rental income or capital gains. In fact, several of those approached for comment on their properties said they were declared to the tax authorities.

''But it does paint an astonishing picture of contrasts. Pakistan, a developing country teetering on the edge of economic collapse, begging international lenders and friendly countries for lifelines in single digit billions, features prominently in the data," according to the website.

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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