Claims of scams, fraud, and embezzlement are hitting the real estate market in Dubai.
The multi-billion dollar construction craze which has attracted investors from all over the world, has seemingly brought in unsavoury types who have been preying on the never-ending appetites of locals and foreigners lining up to invest in the market.A UK company which claimed to have acquired a 900-apartment plot in the proposed Jumeriah Village project, has reportedly sold off apartments in the plot, with no prospect of them ever being built.
The company, Strategic Property Investment, and its associates, William Cowe and Mark Emlick, are being investigated by Dubai and UK authorities.
Dubai authorities are also investigating the mysterious Al Areifi Tower being constructed at Dubai Marina. As we reported several weeks ago, Khalid Saud Al-Areifi & Partner Co., of Riyadh Saudi Arabia, sold several hundred apartments in the project off-the-plan some years ago, taking full payment upfront.In recent weeks the owners of the apartments have been receiving telephone calls and faxes from Al Areifi representatives in Saudi Arabia advising them construction on the project had stopped and would not be resumed.
Investors say they have been offered their original cost, plus interest, back. We have sighted one of the letters sent which verifies the investors’ claims.When we visited the site two weeks ago we found construction in full swing. We contacted the builder on site who confirmed there had been no disruption to the construction and it was proceeding at ‘full steam.’Reports are now circulating that Al Areifi sold the site to the newly-formed, Abu Dhabi-based, Eskan Properties.
A report in Gulf News , however quotes a company spokesman as saying, ‘We sold the tower on again a week back.’
Having bought their apartments and paid for them in full, well before construction started, investors are now wondering how ‘their’ apartments could be on-sold, on two separate occasions since.
Several calls to Emaar Properties, the master developer of Dubai Marina, where the project is sited, have not been returned.
Meantime the investigation into the conduct of the former CEO of Dubai’s second largest property developer, Deyaar, has been widened.
According to Dubai’s Attorney General, Essam al-Humaidan, a second person, Ganesan Krishna Kumar, 49, has been arrested in connection with the investigation. Kumar, originally from India, was a co-founder, and is managing director, of the Dubai-based advertizing agency, Masterbrand (ME) Ltd.,Two other men have also been detained and questioned, but have since been released. Zack Shahin, Deyaar’s ex-CEO is being probed in relation to claims of possible embezzlement. Deyaar has more than 1,600 apartments, as well as retail, and office complexes, under construction in Dubai.
The glitz and glamour of Dubai’s red-hot property market must be feeling the heat of the latest troubles, coming on top of the debacle surrounding the Damac project on the Palm Jebel Ali.
Damac, which claims to be the largest private property developer in the Middle East, sold apartments off-the-plan in what it called the Palm Springs project, a luxury apartments and resort project on the Palm at Jebel Ali.
Four years after launching the project, Damac wrote to investors saying it had been abandoned as the master developer of the Palm had changed the plans and the project could not now fit the site.Within days the master developer, Nakheel, announced it was unaware of Damac’s claims, and that the changes which Damac referred to had been made ten months earlier, and Damac was happy with them.
A hastily convened meeting by the authorities, involving Damac and Nakheel, resolved the matter, with Damac agreeing to proceed with the project. That action averted a class-action lawsuit against Damac by at least sixty angry investors, most of whom were from the UK
Comments on this story
By adel, 04-26-08, 02:31 AM
An advice on Duabai real estate marketI want to give a little advice to prospective investors in Dubai. Ignore those fantastic property offerings, with incredibly low prices and very long-term and low-cost finance. Believe me guys, the price of cunstruction material and labour, rents, oil…etc have made such projects unviable. Such projects are not economically viable anymore and the little investor will, at the end, lose his or her investment. Watch out !
By Anonymous, 04-24-08, 10:03 PM
Dubai property market beset by fraud claimsI have an apartment in this project which I bought off the plan and paid for in full. As far as I am concerned I am the owner and here I read my apartment has been sold to somebody else, twice! What is going on here? And what about the mighty Emaar. They are overall responsible. Surely they can’t sell these plots off to fraudsters like this and not even answer the phone???? Investors like me just sit out here and get these scraps of information from the news media (thanks! I’m not having a go at you, without you I wouldn’t even know I was being pick-pocketed). Where are the authorities? They shouldn’t just be investigating Deyaar they should be investigating Al Areifi.
By Anonymous, 04-25-08, 05:07 PM
Dubai should act against scamsWhere there is a lot of money the smarties arrive to scam the punters. This al areifi crowd have really done a number on people. The Dubai government shouldn’t stand back and let them get away with it. Selling all the apartments to individuals and then selling the whole building to somebody else is just straight forward theft and fraud. The Saudi Arabian authorities should act as well because this is a Saudi company. What confidence can people have in these gulf markets when this sort of nonsense goes on?
By Anonymous, 04-25-08, 08:09 PM
Few bad apples doesn’t mean you throw out the whole caseYes there are scams and frauds in Dubai, just as there are everywhere. Mostly though I think investment in theis place is safe. The government needs to stamp out the bad guys because it affects how people perceive the market.
By Anonymous, 04-28-08, 01:50 PM
These thugs have to be stopped. Whilst these guys are living the lavish lifestyle, we are repaying our loans to pay for them to do so. I am still pursuing these people and find it a huge disappointment that UAE have no laws against this or protection for people who invest from abroad. It was particualrly enlightening that these guys are residing at one of the sheikhs hotels.. Does that mean he thinks all of this is ok?????