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    • Criminal Complaint filed against Al Fajer Properties Sheikh Maktoum
      Criminal Complaint filed in Germany against Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Maktoum Juma Al Maktoum CEO of Dubai Developer Al Fajer Properties The Dubai Sheikh who mislead and extort a German Couple  Germany – Dubai 2011 A German elderly couple , today 80 + 50 years old who have been Dubai Tourists since a decade, bought in 2005 an apartment at Nakheel´s Dubai Residen […]
    • UAE: Human Rights Blogger, Sorbonne Lecturer Charged With ‘Humiliating' Officials
      source Human Rights Watch www.hrw.org (Beirut) - The United Arab Emirates attorney general should immediately drop all charges against five pro-democracy activists to halt their trial, Human Rights Watch said today. The charges of "humiliating" top officials relate solely to the defendants' peaceful use of speech to criticize the UAE governmen […]
    • Nakheel Dubai Sunland Case
      June 5, 2011After 21 hearings, Chris O'Donnell, the Australian chief executive of Dubai's major developer, Nakheel, came to the defence of his former colleagues Matthew Joyce and Marcus Lee. Mr Joyce and Mr Lee are accused of profiting from the sale of land that had been earmarked for a colossal high-rise development, which was to include the futur […]
    • Dubai Nakheel CEO decided to leave the company
      Dubai June 7, 2011 Nakheel said on Wednesday that its CEO Chris O'Donnell had left the company "after completing his contract terms". O'Donnell, an Australian who joined the developer in 2006, said he had decided to leave Nakheel following five years spent with the company, the statement added. O'Donnell has overseen a traumatic time […]
    • Owner of Dubai Developer Damac Hussain Sajwani files case against Egypt corruption ruling
      Dubai property developer Damac said on Tuesday it had filed an international arbitration case against Egypt over a land dispute and the conviction of its chairman and owner, Hussain Sajwani.A Cairo court last week sentenced Sajwani in his absence to jail and ordered him to pay a $40.5 million fine in connection with his 2006 purchase of land at Egypt's […]
    • Dubai Palm Jumeriah - Investors plan to take legal action
      Investors in Dubai Palm Jumeirah’s Golden Mile complex will this week serve the developer behind the project with a legal ultimatum to hand over their units or issue them with a refund.Up to ten investors in the luxury complex plan to issue Souq Residences with legal notice in a bid to force a resolution to a dispute that has been ongoing for more than a yea […]
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Archive for August, 2008

Gulfnews: Property Scandal – 3,458 complaints against Dubai ‘developer’ Al Boom

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 28, 2008


Gulfnews: 3,458 complaints against ‘developer’:

By Bassam Za’za’, Senior ReporterPublished: August 27, 2008, 23:40
Dubai:
A total of 3,458 complaints have been filed against Emirati businessman Abed Al Boom, owner of Abed Al Boom Management and Development Properties, for reportedly swindling depositors of an estimated Dh847 million.

Chief Public Prosecutor Yousuf Foulaz, Head of First Public Prosecution in Deira, announced this yesterday, and said: “The number of complainants might increase.

Until August 20, the Public Prosecution recorded 3,458 complaints from individuals and the total financial claims against Al Boom are around Dh847,266,000. His frozen assets cover about 15 per cent of the total claims.”

Foulaz said Al Boom has been given a cell-phone and access to his lawyers to enable him to recover funds that he claimed he has abroad. Investigation started on July 6.

Al Boom’s case gained public and media interest and was surrounded by different rumours …

Our main legal responsibility is to recover the claimants’ money. Most of the depositors have a limited income,” Foulaz told a media gathering at the Public Prosecution office.

Responding to Gulf News’ question whether media reports and rumours had an influence on the

Al Boom case, he preferred not to comment and replied: “I will remain optimistic. We aim to recover the claimants’ money.”

Dubai’s Attorney General, Eisam Eisa Al Humaidan, ordered the freezing of transactions of shares owned by Al Boom and his associates and the halting of all business transactions concerning their property, assets and bonds.

“The investigation continues and a committee of financial experts from the Rulers Court is currently examining the case,” added Foulaz.

Al Boom’s lawyer, Salim Al Sha’ali earlier told Gulf News: “My client didn’t have any intention of swindling any of the depositors. He has been trying to return the depositors’ money by selling his projects.”

Al Boom and eight alleged associates have been charged with swindling and conning dozens of victims by running a bogus investment portfolio.

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Dubai property law to curb speculation

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 28, 2008


original published Arabian Business
by Jason Benham 27, August 2008

Dubai’s new law to regulate the sale of real estate still under construction is part of an effort to curb speculation that has sent property prices in the Gulf Arab emirate skyrocketing, an official said on Tuesday.

Under the law issued this week sales of off-plan properties in Dubai must be registered with the department before they can be resold, Marwan bin Ghalita chief executive of the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) said.Standard Chartered Bank warned in July that Dubai’s property market showed signs of overheating as speculators betting on quick gains inflate prices of units still under construction.”It will help to curb speculation,” bin Ghalita said of the new law. “In Dubai we are introducing laws step by step … Now everything is going to be transparent because it is with the Land Department.”Dubai property prices have surged 79 percent since the beginning of 2007, Morgan Stanley said earlier in the month.Demand for real estate in Dubai, home to the world’s tallest tower and three man-made islands in the shape of palms, has surged since the government first allowed foreigners to invest in properties in 2002.The government passed a freehold property law in 2006 granting foreigners the right to own properties at selected developments.The off-plan law follows the issuance of a mortgage law last week as part of a drive to regulate the Gulf Arab business hub’s booming real estate sector.It will also prevent master and sub-developers from charging transfer fees on off-plan sales, bin Ghalita said.Developers however can be paid administration fees of 1,000-3,000 dirhams ($272-817) for each transaction after approval by the Land Department, he said.Property prices will probably jump 35 percent this year and another 8.5 percent in 2009, when they are expected to peak as Dubai takes measures to weed out short-term speculators, a Reuters poll showed on Tuesday.The analysts said property prices would fall at least 15 percent from peak to trough. (Reuters)
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Dubai to set up real estate watchdogDubai ruler issues royal decree establishing Real Estate Regulatory Authority to oversee industry.
Dylan Bowman and WAM, Tuesday, 31 July 2007, ArabianBusiness/News

Dubai brings in long term rent dealsReal Estate Regulatory Authority is to introduce long-term contracts in a bid to stabilise rising rents.
Reuters, Wednesday, 22 August 2007, ArabianBusiness/News

Dubai to regulate buy-to-let marketThe emirate’s new property regulator will oversee agreements between landlords and tenants.
Rob Corder, Friday, 31 August 2007, ArabianBusiness/News

Laying down the lawCityscape was the ideal shop window for the new real estate laws introduced in Dubai over the last year.
David Sanson, Monday, 05 November 2007, ArabianBusiness/Comment

Strata Law will be delayedImplementation of Dubai’s Strata Law now set for the first half of 2008.
Becca Wilson, Monday, 03 December 2007, ArabianBusiness/News

Rent cap unlikely to dent inflationNew cap of 5% will have limited impact on curbing inflation in Dubai, investment bank EFG-Hermes says.
Daliah Merzaban, Sunday, 30 December 2007, ArabianBusiness/News

Laying down the lawAs confusion surrounding the imposing Strata Law heightens, Becca Wilson gets the low down from the only two independent strata management companies based in the Middle East.
Becca Wilson, Wednesday, 02 January 2008, ArabianBusiness/Features

More than 400 sign with Rera
Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) has put together a list of real estate developers that have signed up with it in accordance to Law No 8 of 2007.
Conrad Egbert, Saturday, 05 January 2008, ArabianBusiness/News

Sought-after properties to remain out of reach

Property index will keep rents in prestigious communities at high levels, analyst says.
Joel Bowman, Sunday, 06 January 2008, ArabianBusiness/News

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Dubai property law to curb speculation

$463mn deal to ease Schon Properties Dubai Lagoon delays

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 27, 2008


Dubai-based developer Schon Properties has signed a $463 million contract with Belhasa Engineering and Contracting Company to speed up the delivery of its delayed Dubai Lagoon development.

Investors in the $816.4 million residential project in Dubai Investment Park have been complaining about delays for months.Earlier this month Schon Properties announced it would be giving full refunds to investors who had purchased units which were scheduled for completion by December 2007.

The statement came a day after Dubai’s real estate agency said the project had not been cancelled.

Schon Properties has blamed the delays on infrastructure alterations and the rising cost of construction costs which has forced the developer to renegotiate its original agreement with Thai contractor, Powerline Gulf.

Belhasa is expected to start on site in October and completion is expected at the end of 2010 or early 2011 said Schon Properties

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on $463mn deal to ease Schon Properties Dubai Lagoon delays

You must come with us – Experience with the Dubai Police

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 27, 2008


source

Syed Ali was in Dubai interviewing expatriate workers for a book. The day before he was due to leave, six strangers arrived at his flat and took him to the police compound. A 13-hour interrogation lay ahead …

What happens in Dubai when six strangers come to the door with a search warrant? I hadn’t expected to find out first-hand. I’d gone to the emirate to carry out what would count in most countries as routine academic research.

When the knock on the door came on the last day of Ramadan a year ago, I’d been in Dubai for four months. My project: to do interviews for a book on white-collar expatriate workers. Lots has been written about the exploitation of construction workers in the Gulf region, but I didn’t imagine professionals living the good life would be a touchy topic – especially with Dubai so busy promoting itself as a hub of internationalism, a modern state with modern lifestyles. Come here and buy into the property-and-shopping bonanza, say the big advertising campaigns.

Over the weeks, I met and interviewed dozens of Dubai-born and raised foreign professional workers about their experiences growing up and working there. (About 90% of Dubai’s population, and about 98% of its private-sector workforce, is made up of people categorised as expats.) I recorded our interviews in their homes, their workplaces, in cafes and restaurants and shopping malls. I was struck by the fact that being born in Dubai conferred no rights of permanent residence, let alone citizenship, meaning that people who had spent most or all of their lives in the emirate have the same legal status as a worker who has just arrived. I made no secret of what I was doing. I kept an ongoing blog and told everyone I spoke with that I was a Fulbright scholar (the US state department’s best-known scholarship programme) doing book research.

Then, just the day before I was scheduled to leave Dubai, five men arrived unannounced with a court order. With them was one woman, the only person in police uniform; the men were wearing ordinary white robes. It was about noon, on October 22. That they showed up at my friend’s place, where I’d been staying for only three days, and timed their arrival right before I was to fly onward to India for a family holiday, meant – as a duty officer at the US consulate said when my wife rang to ask for help – that they’d been keeping tabs on me.

For about an hour, they searched the flat, and then made to go: “You must come with us.” My wife, who had arrived from New York just 12 hours earlier, said she and our 14-month-old son would come too. “No. We will bring him back soon.”

“Can I leave my mobile phone with my wife?” I asked. “It is not allowed.” “Can I write down some phone numbers, as she doesn’t know anyone here?” “Yes.” I wrote two numbers, then one of the men huffed, “No more numbers!”

I was put into a Toyota Landcruiser, its windows tinted so dark the driver could barely see out, and driven to the immense police headquarters compound, an oasis of bougainvillea and other hanging vines and plants on the north-east side of Dubai Creek. There, we wound up a ramp until we arrived at a one-storey building evidently assigned to the secret police, my escorts. For the next 13 hours or so my interrogators were two Dubai nationals – only nationals work in the State Security Division. One, who looked to be in his late 20s, was thin with jaundiced skin and no top front teeth, the other was in his mid 30s, short and chubby with jowls. The latter played good cop, while the thin one was bad cop. Watching their technique, I wondered if part of their interrogation training had consisted of watching American cop movies.

The questioning was mostly about my family’s migration history, my education from nursery school to doctorate, my work history, and so forth. Every now and then they would interject with the real questions: Why did you come to Dubai? Who is funding you? Why are you asking so many questions about locals and non-locals? They never raised their voices.

My wife, meanwhile, had immediately gone to a nearby hotel to call the US consulate in Dubai. She told them I had been taken away by the men in white, who had showed no identification. Startled at the detention of a Fulbright researcher, consular staff spent more than nine hours phoning Dubai officials before they located me and arranged for my release. Once I left the country, I also called the British embassy in Dubai, hoping it too would make some sort of protest, as I’m a dual UK-US citizen. The duty officer was unimpressed: “You’ve left Dubai, what do you expect us to do?” That was that, for Foreign Office assistance.

By the end of the night, a more senior officer came to wrap things up. Called “chief”, he was all business and in bad-cop mode. He came right to the point: “The research you have been doing is creating divisions in our society and we will not allow it. We will keep your files. Your laptop and iPod [which I used for interviews] we will give you back tomorrow. We will contact you. You will leave on the next available flight. Do not return to Dubai; you are banned and will be arrested if you return.”

Good cop put a cheery spin on things. “I hope you have enjoyed Dubai. Well, this is not enjoyable, but I hope the rest of your stay has been productive and enjoyable and that you represent Dubai positively.” What do you say to that? Good cop also came to the nub of what I’d got myself into when he told me he liked me, but had doubts about my funding. “What do you mean?” I asked. “I think it is the Jewish,” he said. “Why would ‘the Jewish’ be funding me, a Muslim American, to ask questions of people in Dubai?” “I do not know, but I think it is them … and maybe the CIA.”

Anyway, they released me, and put me in the back of the Toyota. On the seat were two bottles of water for me. Nice. After 13 hours of talking, I was thirsty. The driver even bought me a vitamin C drink on the way home, and let me cadge a couple of cigarettes before he dropped me at my friend’s apartment building. And so my story was not one of torture or long imprisonment; rather, a glimpse into the everyday workings of an apparatus of control where the insecurities of those in power can still so easily distort the ordinary activities of an ordinary person.

The next day, a regular policeman phoned and told me to meet him that evening at a shopping mall, the start of another slightly surreal encounter when I got there and called his mobile. “Where are you?” he asked. “Standing next to the guy dressed like a chicken,” I replied (some sort of mall promotion was going on). Come up the escalator, the unseen policeman told me. Halfway up I thought, Oh, this is bad. At the top I made to turn around but then saw him he summoned me to join him. And so I found myself sitting in Starbucks writing out a receipt under his supervision for equipment received in “best operating condition”, after which he gave me back my laptop – without, I later discovered, the hard drive. The authorities also kept my iPod with all my interviews … and replaced it with a new 60 GB video iPod! And if ever I came back to Dubai, the officer said hospitably, he would show me around.

After a fantastic farewell dinner of kebabs with friends, we finished packing and took ourselves to the airport. Despite the threat I supposedly posed to Dubai society, the secret police who banned me apparently felt no need to escort us.

Later, I wrote to the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, via the “royal email” section of his website asking for my hard drive back, and my files. This is the same sheikh, by the way, who launched a $10bn fund for the Middle East recently, amid much fanfare: its objective, to foster education … and research in the region. I’m still waiting for his reply. Not that it matters in practical terms. I have backups – wouldn’t the secret police have realised this? What did they possibly have to gain?

I also complained to Dubai’s police chief, Lieutenant-General Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, via the departmental email and was quite surprised to get a response. He stood by my arrest, but then seemed to turn the whole incident on its head by assuring me that I had not been deported, nor banned: “You are welcome at any time as a visitor to the Emirates, not as an investigator for a police agency or other authority that flies in the face of international legitimacy. Once again I wish to say to you that you are not on lists of persons expelled at all.”

Welcome at any time as a visitor. I think I’ll take them up on that. I wish I’d kept that policeman’s mobile number

· This is Syed’s weblog on his Dubai experience bklyn-in-dubai.livejournal.com

· Syed Ali is an assistant professor of sociology at Long Island University in Brooklyn. Do you have a story about your life? Email it to my.story@guardian.co.uk

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on You must come with us – Experience with the Dubai Police

Dubai – Blind justice – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 27, 2008


Blind justice – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com:

by Rob CorderAugust 2008

The rumours swirling around Dubai’s current high profile anti-corruption sweep are just that: rumours.For justice to be done, authorities must work through an exhaustive, multi-phase, multi-agency process that eventually punishes the guilty and clears the innocent.Phase one requires forensic examination of companies’ and individuals’ incomes, expenditures, balance sheets and assets.

Reliable sources have told Arabian Business that this process began as far back as 2004, and have been ongoing ever since through the office of Dubai’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID).
Nobody has been given immunity or preferential treatment according to their status, although investigations were rightly conducted discreetly and privately so that companies and individuals were not damaged at a stage when the law requires everybody to be judged innocent until proven guilty.

Investigations have thrown up several high profile names, but this does not make any of them guilty.

It is the job of Dubai prosecution officials to work with CID to draw together evidence that can be presented to the court.

Even those arrested within the past few weeks must face trial to establish to the satisfaction of the court that they have committed crimes and must be punished.
This is the phase that we are about to enter, and it is vital that it is carried out with the rigour and professionalism that the CID and prosecutors have applied so far.Corporate corruption crimes are notoriously difficult to bring to trial.

You only have to look at the investigations into arms sales to Saudi Arabia, which date back over 20 years without any resolution in sight, to see how complex the issues can be.But just because these trials will be difficult, and the complexity of evidence could lead them to taking years rather than weeks of month, the Dubai courts should not cut corners on the way to justice.
They must also show the same steely nerve demonstrated by police and prosecutors in assembling evidence against high profile individuals working for government-owned businesses.

Justice must be blind to those that it presides over.

Inevitably, deals will be done to speed up the legal process. Even judges must sometimes be pragmatic, and accept plea bargains that spare the court thousands of hours of torturous testimony in return for immediate guilty pleas.

Prosecutors, defence lawyers and judges should work together on these concessions.

This is dangerous territory.

Pragmatism is an acceptable part of justice, but it must not be used as a cover for capitulation.It is part of a defence lawyer’s toolkit to create as much complexity as possible on behalf of his clients – to make it look like a trial could be a massively expensive waste of everybody’s time.

Nobody yet knows which of the current crop of high profile defendants are innocent or guilty, and nobody should be hungry for instant justice. It would be a travesty if this long-running investigation – which aims to stamp out corruption and leave

Dubai with a gleaming reputation for probity – were to stumble during its trial and sentencing phase.

The public must be patient, and allow the justice system to follow up the excellent work of police and prosecutors.

It may take years before justice is finally seen to have been done, but the work will serve as a foundation for governance that should then survive for centuries.

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The False Story ? Mumbai Mirrow – Dynasty Zarooni Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 26, 2008


original published Mumbai Mirrow

Kabir Mulchandani, owner of Baron International, the company that pioneered cheap colour TVs and music systems under the brand names AIWA and AKAI, and who fled Mumbai after scrutiny by the DRI and Enforcement Directorate, is once again at the centre of controversy.
This time in Dubai.
Mulchandani had left Mumbai for Dubai where he set up a company, Dynasty Zarouni, to cash in on Dubai’s booming real estate market.
He markets ready-to-move in properties constructed by a real estate company called Al Fajer.
Mulchandani advertises these properties on his website and invites NRIs to invest money.
Al Fajer is known for its projects in Jumeirah Business Centre 1 and 2 apart from various projects at Jumeirah Lakes and Jumeirah Island.
But now Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA) is probing Mulchandani’s operations after nearly 30 NRIs from India, Russia and UK complained online that he had misled them by showing a different property and selling them another
RERA authorities told this newspaper that Mulchandani’s firm had also not followed the local rule of depositing sale proceeds of real estate properties into a government-shared escrow account and instead pocketed the entire money.
At least 20 NRIs, originally from Mumbai, had invested money ranging from US $1 million and above in residential-cum-commercial properties developed by Al-Fajer and marketed by Mulchandani.
The smallest of these properties is approximately 5000 square foot.
One particular complaint cites how Mulchandani allegedly sold apartments in a three-tower complex, showing the two completed towers as the properties that were for sale but allotting ownership documents of the third tower which has yet to come up.
Speaking to Mumbai Mirror RERA’s head of legal cell, Imad Husein said, “We have received complaints of 30 investors from India, Russia and the UK. Kabir’s company Dynasty Zarouni offered real estate properties at half the market price.
It also allegedly lured investors by misrepresenting a different property in the name of another. Each buyer has invested at least one million US dollars with Kabir’s firm.”
According to Husein, “We have invited all investors with similar complaints through advertisements in local newspapers to come forward, and have assured them that RERA will play an active role in safeguarding their money under law no 8 in line with the directives of Dubai’s ruler Sheikh Mohammed.”
Husein said, Mulchandani’s operations through Dynasty Zarouni involve sale of over 20 towers each consisting of 40 floors, approximating 20,000 residential and commercial units.
The RERA official said Dynasty Zarouni was also under scanner for irregularities in fund management.
“As per the rules of the Emirates, the money received from investors has to be deposited in an escrow account jointly held by the government with the developer.
The money is released only on delivery of the property.
Kabir Mulchandani and his company did not deposit money in the escrow account and hence it results in a case of breach of contract,” Husein said, adding that in such a scenario the developer may vanish leaving investors in lurch.
One of the NRIs, originally from Mumbai, who has filed a complaint with RERA said, on condition of anonymity:
“I was devastated to find that it is illegal for Dynasty Zarouni to collect money without the existence of an escrow account.
Not only does this leave my funds unsecured, in addition I have just been told by Al Fajer properties, the developers, that the total area being committed to me in the contract provided by cis inaccurate and is exaggerated by 30 percent,” the NRI added.
Mulchandani could not be contacted.
original published: Munbaimirrow.com
also published: zawya.com

Posted in Dubai, Jumeirah Business Centre, Kabir Mulchandani | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on The False Story ? Mumbai Mirrow – Dynasty Zarooni Dubai

Gulfnews: Dynasty Zarooni gets clean chit

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 26, 2008


Dynasty Zarooni gets clean chit

By Saifur Rahman, Business Editor
Published: August 25, 2008, 23:12

Dubai:

Dynasty Al Zarooni Real Estate is considering legal action against some Indian publications and those behind an alleged ‘smear campaign’ to malign its reputation, officials said.

The campaign has allegedly been launched by a former employee of Kabir Mulchandani, chairman of Dynasty Zarooni, who was fired for alleged ‘wrongdoing’, Gulf News has learnt.

Two Indian publications ran reports referring to some investors’ complaint that “he [Mulchandani] had misled them by showing a different property and selling them another”.

One of the reports said “Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority [Rera] is probing Mulchandani’s operations after nearly 30 NRIs from India, Russia and UK complained online”.

Dynasty Zarooni, formed in 2005, is a joint venture between Hilal Al Zarooni and Kabir Mulchandani. The company has been engaged in developing, buying and selling residential and commercial properties to wholesale investors and cashing in on soaring prices and growing demand that fetched solid returns.

“Dynasty Zarooni, having a real estate portfolio in excess of Dh20 billion, has been the target of a series of false accusations in relation to complaints from investors, with regards to their Ebony & Ivory project in Jumeirah Lakes Towers,” the company said in an e-mailed statement

The project is being developed by Al Fajer Properties, a leading property developer in the UAE, managed by its president Shaikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum.

Over the past week there have been a number of internet blog stories and these culminating with a article in the Indian media, incorrectly quoting Rera officials, the company said.

The Ebony & Ivory development project is a Dh2.7 billion project, which was originally sold out within hours of its launch. “To date, the construction of all of the towers being developed by Al Fajer Properties is progressing rapidly,” the statement said.

Meanwhile, the Rera has given Dynasty Zarooni a clean chit.

“Dynasty Al Zarooni Real Estate has no violations relating to the registration of property brokers until August 25, 2008,” Rera said in a letter yesterday, a copy of which was obtained by Gulf News.

Hilal Al Zarooni, president of Dynasty Zarooni, told Gulf News, “We are pursuing legal action against those who are behind this campaign that is damaging our reputation.

“These imposters have not only targeted Dynasty Zarooni, but the UAE real estate market as a whole. The imposters should be brought to justice.” he said.

 

see also Video TV Agust 2008

http://www.zawya.com/video/default.cfm/sidVID20080826112123

Posted in Dubai, Jumeirah Business Centre, Kabir Mulchandani | Comments Off on Gulfnews: Dynasty Zarooni gets clean chit

Marwan Bin Ghalaita, CEO of RERA, talks about regulation in the real estate market in the light of two new alleged financial infringements.

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 26, 2008


Radio Interview Marwan bin Ghalita RERA Dubai August 2008

http://www.zawya.com/radio/default.cfm/sidDE08081706255850070

Original Radio Broadcast by Dubai Eye 17Aug08

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Marwan Bin Ghalaita, CEO of RERA, talks about regulation in the real estate market in the light of two new alleged financial infringements.

Dubai Courts now part of AskDubai network

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 24, 2008


Dubai Courts now part of AskDubai network:

Dubai Courts has become the 17th government department to join the AskDubai service, an initiative that facilitates interaction between the government and its public through a single point of contact.

Through the AskDubai call centre, Dubai residents who need specific information or wish to report any grievances regarding Dubai Courts, can do so by contacting the call center.

AskDubai is a unified, bilingual (Arabic/English) contact centre for government departments in Dubai via connected through various channels including telephone, fax, email and online chat through the website

http://askdubai.dubai.ae/

Salem Al Shair, eServices Director, Dubai eGovernment, said, “Dubai Courts Department is another valuable addition to the list of government departments that have joined our AskDubai channel.

We are certain that a large number of Dubai residents who are dealing with Dubai Courts each day will benefit from the high-quality customer service offered by our well-trained call center staff.”

Maryam Abdulla Bin Lahej, Head of quality section, Dubai Courts Department, said, “Dubai Courts currently offers a host of electronic services to ensure that clients’ dealings with the court are as hassle-free as possible, and we believe that by offering the AskDubai service, a greater number of clients will also benefit.

” Besides Dubai Courts Department, the government agencies that have joined the AskDubai service include Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing, Dubai Police, Dubai Municipality, Department of Economic Development, Dubai Customs, Dubai Land Department, Dubai Chamber, Department of Health and Medical Services, Dubai Airport Free Zone Authority, Department of Civil Aviation, Dubai Civil Defence, Awqaf and Minors Affairs Foundation (AMAF), Dubai Public Prosecution, Dubai Civil Aviation, Dubai Autism Centre, Dubai Islamic Affairs & Charitable Activities Department and Dubai eGovernment.

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Gulfnews: Dubai building rule violators will be punished

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 24, 2008


Gulfnews: Dubai building rule violators will be punished:

By Alice Johnson, Staff ReporterPublished: August 23, 2008, 23:47

Dubai: Every year, 2.3 million people die in occupational accidents or from work-related diseases worldwide. Approximately 60,000, or 2.3 per cent, of these deaths are in the construction industry.
There are approximately 270 million occupational accidents per year, and 160 million cases of occupational disease, according to statistics from the International Labour Organisation.
Dubai is no exception, the emirate recorded 249 accidents on construction sites last year, 47.8 per cent of which involved labourers falling from heights.

Falls from 2004 to 2007 constituted 45 per cent of a total 865 accidents, according to statistics from Dubai Municipality.
Other types of accidents included collapses at work sites, 23 per cent; crane and other machinery accidents, 14 per cent; and incidents involving fires and electric shocks, 7 per cent.

The issue was highlighted recently, when the municipality published a new manual for contractors and construction companies, stipulating health and safety regulations for workers in the industry.
Currently, the Building Department Inspection Section visits 150 construction sites per day, which is to increase to between 400 and 500 in the near future.

Breaching construction site safety regulations can result in fines and even closure of the site itself.
Fawzi Mohammad Al Shehi, Acting Director, Building Department, said: “There are many violations a day, but most of them are rectified quickly. Fines range from zero to Dh50,000, because some violations are very small.” Construction site safety breaches include not wearing the correct safety wear, such as a hard hat.

Total fines issued in June were Dh1.5 million.

Eisa Al Maidour, Assistant Director General, Dubai Municipality Planning and Building Affairs, said: “Safety is the contractors’ responsibility. We cannot prevent all accidents. The aim is not to fine, the aim is to correct the situation and prevent further violations.”
According to exhibition organisers Epoc Messe Frankfurt, site accidents occur because of the increasing number of projects underway. The company will be organising the Intersec trade fair in Dubai, which includes “construction safety” as a theme, in January 2009.

Eckhard Pruy, CEO of the company, said: “The rapid increase in the number of construction projects in the UAE and other Gulf countries has caused an alarming number of accidents at construction sites. According to research, construction projects in excess of $2.4 trillion (Dh8.8 trillion) are underway, with the majority of developments being carried out in Saudi Arabia and the UAE.”
Projects in Dubai include the Waterfront Project (Dh183 billion) and the Burj Dubai development (Dh73 billion).

“High investments in infrastructure and the construction industry do often stand in opposition to required safety standards. A variety of safety standards has been implemented by the government, but the biggest challenge is to make companies adhere to these regulations by imposing fines and sanctions against those who break the rules,” Pruy said.

Dubai: Annual statistics
865 accidents from 2004-2007
45 per cent of accidents were falling from heights
23 per cent of accidents were collapses
14 per cent of accidents involved cranes and machinery
7 per cent of accidents were electric shocks
249 accidents in 2007
47.8 per cent of accidents in 2007 were falling from heights

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Sama Dubai – Lagoons CEO Abdul Salam Al Marri faces corruption probe

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 22, 2008


21 August 2008Dubai:

Abdul Salam Al Marri, chief executive of the Lagoons – a project by Sama Dubai

Sama Dubai, a Dubai Government owned real estate developer, is facing probe, Gulf News has learnt.

“We just came to know that he has come under investigation,” a source close to Sama DubaiSama Dubai, said.

Sama DubaiSama Dubai‘s flagship project, the Lagoons – on Dubai Creek has been delayed. The project is expected to house Dubai Towers, Dubai – the four towers at the core of its development.

The news comes amid a government crackdown on bribery and corruption – mostly in the real estate sector.

Police began the probe on three government officials on corruption. Market sources hinted that many more heads are expected to roll.

Dubai government, in a recent statement, has announced zero tolerence against corruption.
“The Government of Dubai will take strict and prompt action against all acts of corruption and bribery wherever they occur in the emirate, whether in the public of private sectors,” Dubai’s Public Prosecutor said in a recent statement.

By Saifur Rahman

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Sama Dubai – Lagoons CEO Abdul Salam Al Marri faces corruption probe

Call for new laws to fight corruption in Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 22, 2008


Call for new laws to fight corruption

Shuchita Kapur on Thursday, August 21, 2008

Financial experts are calling for stricter laws and regulatory policies to fight corruption following allegations of misconduct in Dubai property market.

On Tuesday developer Nakheel confirmed a former employee was being questioned by the authorities over bribery claims. The statement followed media reports Karim Masaad, international sales manager for Nakheel, was being questioned by Dubai Public Prosecution as part of an anti-corruption crackdown.

Last week Nakheel said one of its employees was being questioned on suspicion of taking bribes. This followed a report that Walid Al Jaziri, general manager for sales, was being investigated for financial irregularities.

Laws are already in place to tackle corruption but more needs to be done, leading analysts told Emirates Business. And one analyst said adopting strict international standards would be a major first step.

“I feel we should adopt international financial reporting Standards,” said Dr Nasser Al Saidi, chief economist at the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC).

“This should be the standard for both listed and non-listed companies. It should be the rule for the corporate world.

“In addition we should strengthen the listing requirements at stock exchanges – and this should apply not only to new entrants but to those already listed as well.”

Niall O’Toole, a partner at the international law firm Clyde & Co, said a new law was needed. “There have been major scandals in the United States and throughout Europe and these led to changes in legislation and procedures,” he said.

“The private sector in the UAE deserves a new companies law written to an international standard that would establish enhanced standards of corporate governance.

“Insider trading is already against Emirates Securities and Commodities Authority [ESCA] regulations and we have seen examples of exchanges reversing trades.

I would expect the three stock exchanges in the UAE to be very vigilant on this point and if changes are required to the regulations then I would expect these to be forthcoming,” he added.

Dr Saidi said insider trading involving companies listed on the country’s bourses should be made a criminal offence.

“There should be a criminal law for insider trading just as there is in developed markets,” he said.

Dr Saidi said the ESCA had sufficient powers in terms of the current laws and regulations as well as the full support of the minister of economy.

“Enforcement of the corporate governance code is very important. This was announced by the ESCA in 2006 and we should move towards it as early as possible to avoid such cases in the future.”

A recent report on the way businesses are run said the ESCA should be more proactive in introducing new rules to strengthen corporate governance practices – a view shared by many experts.

O’Toole said: “The UAE has no option but to continue to improve corporate governance standards. Both the ESCA and the Dubai Financial Services Authority have issued minimum codes of corporate governance for listed companies.

“These need to be enforced both by regulators and by shareholders, particularly institutional investors. Consideration should also be given to adopting similar codes for private companies.”

Sarmad Hasan Manto, Legal Consultant, United Trademark & Patent Services (UTPS), said: “It is necessary to promulgate laws and closely monitor activities through regulatory intervention. In addition the companies should also play a vital role through implementing the required levels of checks and balances.”

Experts believe that a lack of transparency is a major issue in Dubai. The say regulatory intervention and compliance are needed to make sure the levels of disclosure are up to international standards.

Amer Halawi, Head of Research at the National Investor, told Emirates Business: “The family structure of businesses in the UAE and the short history of the stock markets create a sense of secrecy. This results in companies communicating very little with their shareholders.

“A case in point is the land deal that was struck by Emaar last year. It was advertised as an absolute winner by the company but very few valuation details were given. As a result shareholders were not able to gauge the importance of the deal and the stock went down on the news.

“The deal eventually had to be cancelled. Since then Emaar has decided to appoint an investor relations officer to manage such situations better in the future.

“One of the very first things UAE Inc should do is to impose a strict set of regulations to improve disclosure and transparency. Another important step would be to harmonise regulations across the emirates, particularly when it comes to listed companies,” Halawi added.

Dr Saidi said: “Transparency and disclosure should be high on the agenda of a company. In most developed markets companies announce the date when they will publish their results in advance. However, within the region 90 per cent of the companies here do not do that.

“This is important as the company will be obliged to stick to the deadlines. All companies should also have an investor relations department,” he said.

Halawi said: “Everybody talks about the current allegations but no one really knows what is happening. This is a good example of poor communication. The market is wondering and, in the absence of answers, investors sell the stock. Crisis situations require excessive transparency.”

However a spokesman for Nakheel told Emirates Business that transparency was at the heart of the company.

“As has previously been advised Nakheel regularly conducts internal audits as part of its commitment to open and transparent corporate governance process,” he said.

“As a result of this internal audit process the company can confirm that a former member of staff is also being interviewed by the authorities in relation to acceptance of inducements from third parties. No other staff members are being interviewed and it would be inappropriate to comment further on this issue.”

Transparency will become even more important as Dubai develops further and more foreign money is invested in the emirate. Manto said: “In order to maintain and increase the volume of foreign investment it is essential that transparency and legal security is provided to stakeholders and their confidence is regained.”

But O’Toole said transparency was just one of a number of factors and there was no single solution to the problem of corruption.

“Transparency is certainly an important part of good corporate governance,” he said.

“However, it is dangerous to think that there is a single or simple solution. Other elements of a potential solution would include an international standard companies law, continuously evolving codes of conduct, shareholder activism, suitable training for directors and officers and stiff penalties for breaches,” he added.

Dubai move positive

The declaration by Dubai of a zero-tolerance policy towards corruption has won the backing of financial experts.

Public Prosecutor Esam Al Humaidan said: “Dubai Government follows a clear policy. There are strict directions to have zero tolerance towards all aspects of corruption, bribery and taking advantage of official positions.”

Niall O’Toole, a partner at law firm Clyde & Co, said: “Corruption and scandals are a fact of life wherever you go. To suggest that the UAE is immune to this aspect of human nature would not be credible. The important thing is that the authorities do not overreact but rather react appropriately. Dubai Government making clear it has a zero-tolerance attitude to corruption is the right response.”

Halawi said: “The fact that the government is talking about zero tolerance means there is a strong will to do things correctly. These situations are accidents along the way to economic growth and they have to be managed. The UAE has done a pretty good job so far.”

Dr Nasser Al Saidi, chief economist at DIFC, believes the allegations will ultimately be good for business. “Even though it looks negative, it is good. People have faith in the system. The judiciary is holding people accountable for their actions. This will lead to an increase in investor confidence.”

Sarmad Hasan Manto, legal consultant at UTPS, said: “The zero-tolerance policy is highly appreciated and has played an important role in building confidence among stakeholders.”

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Call for new laws to fight corruption in Dubai

Casa del Mar Dubai Marina Property scandal

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 21, 2008


Crisis in perspective: RERA

Investors in the Casa del Mar development in Dubai Marina have been told by the new owner, Al Mashraf Bank, that once completed, the project will be sold to new investors, rending the current contracts void.

The original owner of the development, Obaid Bin Jarsh, marketed Casa del Mar through Deyaar. He then sold it to Al Mashraf “due to liquidity problems”, in a letter to investors dated July 11, 2007.

Bin Jarsh had also promised to return 10 per cent of all investments.

However, with one investor paying Dh720 per square foot for six units three years ago, 10 per cent is not an adequate refund.

It is not clear how many investors will be affected by this latest turn of events.

In April this year, the director-general of the Dubai Land Department wrote in a letter to one investor, “Bin Jarsh’s offer to return the original amount is unacceptable.”

The letter also said that Bin Jarsh’s act of selling the project before any settlement had been agreed was a “violation of Dubai property regulations”.

However, despite this letter, nothing has since been done to solve the situation.
“Nobody listens to us investors. If you’re lucky they build it,” said one investor to Gulf News.
As the 30-storey project nears completion, investors are worried that Al Mashraf Bank will sell it on, disregarding previous contracts.

Galal Al Dimeery, real estate manager at Al Mashraf, said once Casa del Mar is complete, it will be launched again under a new name and then sold on to new investors.

Al Dimeery also said that when Al Mashraf bought the project, it was “empty”.

Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority’s (Rera) plans to create a new property court cannot come quickly enough, as more and more developments lack the transparency and confidence of more mature markets.

Rera is overwhelmed with complaints from investors ranging from issues such as project delays to money disputes.

“Rera is not a court. It’s just a way to regulate the market,” Marwan Bin Galita, chief executive of Rera said.

Both Obaid Bin Jarsh and officials at Deyaar were unavailable for comment.

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Casa del Mar Dubai Marina Property scandal

98% call for more transparency in real estate – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 19, 2008


98% call for more transparency in real estate – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com:

“Last month, a report by Jones Lang Lasalle claimed Dubai was now the most transparent market in the Middle East.

The study showed that the city registered the greatest improvement in real estate transparency globally over the last two years.

But Arabian Business readers disagreed. As well as 86 percent calling for urgent action, another 12 percent thought that, while the situation had improved, there was still a long way to go.

Just two percent of respondents said they were happy with the state of the region’s real estate market and would be happy to do business.

Asked whether their recent real estate dealings had been ‘open and honest’, no-one in our poll said yes.

Dubai rated ‘most improved real estate market’
Transparency report says emirate has made great strides over past two years.”

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on 98% call for more transparency in real estate – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com

The UAE Real Estate FLIPPERS- Aldar clamps down on property ‘flipping’

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 19, 2008


Aldar clamps down on property ‘flipping’ – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com: ”

Abu Dhabi’s largest real estate company is to become the latest developer to clamp down on the practice of ‘flipping’ by placing restrictions on the resale of its properties.

Aldar Properties CEO Ronald Barrott said in comments published on Tuesday that the developer will impose new rules on resales in its next phase of its properties coming online in October and November.

Barrott said these rules governing resale of its properties will become standard for all future projects.”

A degree of speculation can be good, but it needs to be tempered…

You can’t let the market get out of control, otherwise you have what is going on in Dubai,” Barrott told UAE daily The National.

“That is not a criticism, but there is overheating there. What you want is a market that moves quickly, but is sustainable.” Barrott would not reveal what measures Aldar plans to impose to dampen speculation other than that they will be “quite a new way of dealing with this issue”.

The announcement follows a similar move by Dubai-owned developer Nakheel, which said earlier this month that it was taking action to stop speculation on its Trump International Hotel & Tower, already the second most expensive in Dubai behind the Burj Dubai.The developer said investors in the Trump tower have to sign a purchase sale agreement banning them from on-selling the property for one year, adding that the clause could be extended to other projects in the future.

The practice of “flipping”, where investors buy property and then quickly sell it on at a higher price, has been blamed in part for the soaring price of real estate in the UAE.

House prices in Abu Dhabi rocketed by 61 percent between the fourth quarter of 2007 and the second quarter of this year, while in Dubai prices jumped 37 percent over the same period, HSBC said in a report in July.

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on The UAE Real Estate FLIPPERS- Aldar clamps down on property ‘flipping’

RERA will monitor Schon Properties – Dubai Lagoons has not been cancelled, says Rera

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 19, 2008


Dubai: 19 , August 2008
original published GulfNews
http://archive.gulfnews.com/business/Real_Estate_Property/10238577.html

The Dubai Lagoons, a project that is running more than a year behind schedule, has not been cancelled as rumoured, the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) assured investors on Tuesday.

Rera yesterday issued a statement reassuring investors against rumours that the project has been cancelled. The project, offered to investors on a 99-year leasehold, was bought by Schon Properties from its previous developers.

“The project, which was initiated before the launch of Rera, saw some delays. Rera, in its monitoring responsibility, had to respond to investors’ complaints and safeguard their rights and interests,” Marwan Bin Galita, Rera chief executive, said in a statement on Tuesday.

“Having been registered in the real estate developers’ record, Schon Properties deposited the requisite amounts in its escrow accounts. Rera then had a list of all the investors of the Lagoons project,” Bin Galita said.
Meeting

Rera had a meeting with the (60) investors who purchased apartments in the project. It could amicably unravel scores of disputes and shelter investors’ interests over its year-long launch, Bin Galita said.

All investors are urged to report to Rera whatever violations they come across, particularly those related to escrow accounts No 8. Should they get involved in disputes or litigation vis-a-vis real estate development, investment and freehold, they are advised to approach the Property Court. They may also seek compensation and enforcement of obligations therein, Bin Galita said.
Rera spares no effort to create a scrupulous, stable, secure and safe real estate market here so that investors would have more confidence.

Giving a boost to investment ambiance and putting real estate transactions in a modern legislative framework up to Dubai international name and fame are further fruit.

“Rera is geared up to enhance Dubai achievements and siphon real estate breaches committed by few developers, who care for only their profits, disregard the Dubai second booming real estate development,” Bin Galita said.

A plan is being laid down to better monitor the Lagoons’ ongoing construction, he said.

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on RERA will monitor Schon Properties – Dubai Lagoons has not been cancelled, says Rera

Corruption, what corruption?

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 18, 2008


Corruption, what corruption? – Middle East Directory Zawya.com

There are generally three accepted kinds of corruption[1] that are standard in the world today, organised corruption which includes gangs and criminals, petty corruption which involves small amounts of money and business or political corruption which in the Gulf is yet to be officially recognised as a crime.

Some GCC countries have ranked quite well in the 2008 Transparency International survey, achieving scores that are not too far behind established democracies. In the latest report the GCC scores are Qatar 32nd, the UAE 34th, Bahrain 46th, Oman 53rd, Kuwait 60th and Saudi Arabia as the 79th least corrupt country[2]. Although it is not a surprise at first that the Gulf States with the highest rank in the list are Qatar and the UAE, what is a surprise is that they interestingly rank just after Israel (31st). What is wrong with that you ask? Quite a bit in fact. Israel is a country that is currently investigating its head of government for the purchase of a house below market value[3], in the GCC buying a house at favourable terms is quite frankly an advantage if not a reason to enter government.

Silver lining

The two GCC countries that have stood out recently in fighting corruption are Bahrain and Kuwait, the ones with the only active parliaments in the GCC. Not many countries in the GCC are able or willing to do what Bahrain’s brave Crown Prince Sheikh Salman did recently. In the autumn of 2007 he launched an anti-corruption campaign that shook the Kingdom. Officials from Aluminium Bahrain, Gulf Air and Arab Ship Building have been questioned or referred to the public persecution for crimes from pocketing commissions to misappropriation of funds. Batelco, the island’s pioneering Telecom Company came under scrutiny after it was accused of paying US$30 million to secure a telecom firm in Jordan, not the first Bahraini firm to be accused of corruption there[4] (. Such incidents have irked the Crown Prince so much so that he deliberately, and uncharacteristically for the GCC, took the route of an open exchange of letters with his father the King in order to secure the necessary power to root out corruption from the highest echelons of government. The Crown Prince vowed that the campaigned will “not spare any minister implicated in corruption”[5]. The Prime Minister’s son, a close cousin of the Crown Prince, was ousted from his position of head of Bahrain’s Airport Authority not too long after the letters were exchanged[6]. Subsequently a new law was introduced that obliges most ministers in Bahrain to report directly to the Crown Prince’s Economic Development Board, thereby bypassing the office of the Prime Minister. Kuwait has also shown courage in the field of fighting graft when in September 2007 a court slapped a life sentence on a former Undersecretary of Defense and fined him a staggering $72 million for corruption[7].

The other GCC states

The Saudi press has not been able to publish some of the more important scandals in the Kingdom, instead there were reports of 500 petty bribery cases in Riyadh in 2007[8]. In the UAE, a professor of administration in the Emirates University stated that if such international surveys as the above were being held across the country and not only in Dubai then the UAE would not have ranked so well because “corruption in the other emirates is higher”[9] in addition to other unprintable serious allegations. In Qatar two Agriculture Ministry officials were charged with embezzlement of funds totaling US$270 million in 2005 to build private villas and a residential complex but not much has been heard since[10].

Why is this important?

According to Dr Ahmad Belhasa, Chairman of the UAE Contractors Association the real estate industry is most prone to corruption in the GCC as there is “no accountability and no punishments to companies or individuals involved in corruption.”[11] As the Gulf states proudly announces the Trillion Dollar mark in terms of construction deals is it not surprising that in the biggest economies of the GCC no one is brought to account, charged or even investigated?

I wonder what Transparency International says to that.

Postcrpit: Since writing this article for MoneyWorks magazine in early April Deyaar has had a run of not so good news. The CEO was held for days on end while the stock continued to trade. Investors were left in the dark whereas the stock should have been suspended from trading for a few days atleast. Fortunately, there was no panic selling, unfortunately, we still don’t know what is happening weeks after the incident.


[11] Ibid citation 8

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Corruption, what corruption?

Corruption in Dubai – UAE lawyers welcome move

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 18, 2008


UAE lawyers welcome move
By Abbas Al Lawati, Staff ReporterPublished: August 17, 2008, 23:21

Dubai:

UAE lawyers are welcoming the move by Dubai to crack down on financial corruption in the government and private sectors. But they say that the process should not stop until corruption is rooted out at all levels.

The media office for His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, issued a strongly-worded statement on Sunday, promising to deal harshly with any officials accused of taking payoffs in deals or those who exploit their positions for illegal financial gain.

Abdul Hamid Al Kumaiti of Al Kumaiti Advocates said the crackdown was no surprise because there had been talk of it recently, adding that it started a stage where every entity could come under scrutiny.

“Twenty to 25 per cent of the cost of government projects globally is believed to go to payoffs. This is prevalent in the UAE too,” he said.
Al Kumaiti said that under-the-table payoffs to get business deals approved had become so prevalent in the UAE that they were now considered a business norm. “Companies would either have to pay or withdraw their bids for contracts,” he said.

He blamed the phenomenon on multiple positions held by some officials in various government sectors, and he also cited the lack of a law forcing them to disclose their assets.

Asked if high-level corruption in government entities was a new phenomenon, Al Kumaiti said that the statement amounted to an admission of the existence of financial corruption in Dubai, “not an announcement about a [recent] discovery of financial corruption.”
Monitoring mechanism

He called for the setting up of a mechanism to monitor corruption and called for a law requiring high-ranking officials to disclose their assets, and be held accountable for corruption.

I brought this up with an official at a forum recently but my question was totally ignored,” he said.

UAE lawyer Yousuf Hammad said that all cases should be treated individually, but he nonetheless hailed the crackdown by the government. He noted, however, that requiring all officials to disclose their assets would amount to suspecting each of wrongdoing, which wasn’t the case.

Potential investors often come asking us if there are any effective anti-corruption laws,” Hammad said. I tell them there are, but they haven’t been [enforced].

The problem is that businessmen who deal with those asking for bribes feel pressured to pay and don’t notify the authorities.”

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Dubai’s zero tolerance pledge on corruption – Banking & Finance – ArabianBusiness.com – Sent Using Google Toolbar

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 18, 2008


Dubai’s zero tolerance pledge on corruption – Banking & Finance – ArabianBusiness.com

The Government of Dubai will take strict and prompt action against all acts of corruption and bribery wherever they occur in the emirate, Dubai’s Public Prosecutor said on Sunday.

Commenting on the recent questioning of employees of listed and public companies on suspicion of exploiting their positions to make illegal profits, he said: “The government will continue to have a strict stance against all aspects of corruption and will take legal measures against violators.”

He said fighting corruption is at the top of the government’s priorities.

Dubai Government follows a transparent and clear policy on such issues. There are strict directives to have zero-tolerance towards all aspects of corruption, bribing and taking advantage of official positions.”

His comments came just days after Dubai mortgage lender Tamweel’s former chief executive Adel Al Shirawi and head of investments were named as part of an investigation for alleged wrongdoing.

And Nakheel, the government-owned developer of manmade islands in the shape of palm trees, said on Friday one of its employees was under investigation on suspicion of bribe-taking.

Earlier this year, investigations began into alleged irregularities by executives at Dubai Islamic Bank, the Gulf Arab state’s biggest Islamic bank by market value, and its affiliate real estate firm Deyaar.

The Public Prosecutor added that the results of ongoing investigations about the accused employees will be announced once they are complete.

“Any employee exploiting his position to make illegal profits will not have immunity. The strictness with which some violations that emerged in the recent past were dealt with, confirms the government’s commitment to maintaining the highest global standards in fighting corruption and enhancing its achievements in the economic, financial and legislative fields,” he said.

He added that corruption and bribery are some of the most important issues that obstruct development in the World.

“The government has created an ideal environment here, which is supported by a legal and legislative structure that depends on the best global practices.

“The government will continue this policy, which made it gain the confidence of business leaders throughout the region and the world. There will be no tolerance shown to anybody who tries to exploit his position to make illegal profits,” the Public Prosecutor added.

Meanwhile, Marwan Bin Ghalaita, chief executive of the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), said on Sunday that investigations into financial irregularities at property developer Nakheel and mortgage lender Tamweel are a sign that transparency in the real estate sector is improving.

“I think this is a good thing for the market,” Bin Ghalaita told radio station Dubai Eye.

He disagreed with this month’s Morgan Stanley report that claimed Dubai property prices could fall up to 10 percent in the next two years.

“The real estate market is very solid and the confidence is there,” he said.

The RERA head also said that companies need to educate their employees about the values and ethics of their business, as some of them come from countries where bribes are common in the industry and are seen as a form of commission. (Reuters)

Police arrest Adel Al Shirawi
UPDATE 2: Tamweel says it is unaware of investigation into dealings of former chief executive.

Nakheel exec in bribery scandal named
UPDATE 1: Media reports say general manager of sales being questioned by police.

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Nakheel executive in bribery scandal named – Real Estate Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 16, 2008


The senior Nakheel executive embroiled in a bribery scandal has been named in media reports as Walid Al Jaziri, the company’s general manager of sales.

Al Jaziri is currently being questioned by Dubai police, UAE daily Gulf News reported on Friday.

Nakheel, part of state-owned conglomerate Dubai World, would not confirm whether Al Jaziri is being questioned, but said one of its employees is under investigation.

“As a result of this internal audit process, the company can confirm that a member of staff is being interviewed by the authorities,” Nakheel said in a statement.

“The allegation of financial irregularities is in relation to the acceptance of sums paid to an employee by third parties.”

London-based magazine MEED said on Friday that a criminal case was brought against a senior Nakheel executive this month for alleged financial irregularities.

“The company can confirm that no embezzlement has taken place within Nakheel,” Nakheel said.

Dubai Public Prosecution was closed on Friday and a court official did not answer his mobile phone.

Nakheel CEO Chris O’Donnell declined to comment on the case when contacted by Reuters.

The news comes a day after a probe surfaced involving former employees of mortgage lender Tamweel and months after investigations began into alleged irregularities by executives at Dubai Islamic Bank and its affiliate Deyaar.

Tamweel’s former CEO and head of investments are being probed for alleged wrongdoing, their current employer Istithmar World said on Thursday.

Police arrest Adel Al Shirawi
UPDATE 2: Tamweel says it is unaware of investigation into dealings of former chief executive.

 

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The official Dubai Real Estate Community – RERA Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 13, 2008


To get in Contact directly to the OFFICIAL DUBAI REAL ESTATE COMMUNITY RERA DUBAI please click here:

http://rpdubai.ae/English/about_us/about_ld.aspx

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Gulfnews: Suzan Tamim murder ‘took 12 minutes’

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 11, 2008


“Suzan Tamim murder ‘took 12 minutes’ Suzan Tamim murder ‘took 12 minutes'”

By Maysam Ali, Staff ReporterPublished: August 10, 2008, 23:49
Dubai: Five hours after Dubai Police were informed of Lebanese singer Suzan Tamim’s death, the suspected killer, a 39-year-old Arab national, was identified, said a senior police official.
“It took 12 minutes for the murderer to enter the building, kill the victim and leave,” Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Acting Chief of Dubai Police told a press conference on Sunday in Dubai.
“The murder was premeditated and the planning was cunning and highly professional,” Al Mazeina said.
He said the suspect was arrested in an Arab country three days after the crime took place. He hinted the motive might have been revenge as there was no evidence in the apartment to indicate otherwise.

The singer was murdered in her apartment in Jumeirah Beach Residence on July 28. The police found her body later that evening, several hours after the incident was reported.
Al Mazeina said: “Tamim had a driving test scheduled the morning when she was killed. She had ordered a taxi to meet her under her building at 9am in order to take her to the driving institute. The taxi driver called her several times but she neither answered nor did she meet him.

“This suggests she was killed before 9am.”

The singer was found fully dressed and ready to leave the house. The murderer had managed to pass through the building’s security without being asked for identification.

In order to convince Tamim to let him into her apartment, he showed her, through the building’s video intercom, an envelope showing the logo of the real estate company which had recently sold her the apartment she was residing in. Police said in all probability this was the reason that made her open the door for him.

One and half hours after the crime was committed, the suspect left the UAE and headed to another Arab county, which Mazeina refused to name.
However, some reports suggested the accused was Egyptian. A police source contacted by Gulf News in Cairo said two Egyptians were arrested in connection with the murder.

“The fact is the Prosecutor General has ordered a ban on writing about the case and that the investigations are making progress,” said the police official.

The assassin had walked in wearing two layers of clothes, executed the crime, and then got rid of the clothes in the building. The police found his clothes and used them as evidence.

The morning Tamim was killed, her relatives had been calling her but she did not answer. One of her relatives went to her apartment and found her body lying next to the entrance; the door was open. Her throat was slit with a knife.

There were several feuds between the late singer and people outside the UAE, and this will help identify who it was who wanted Tamim killed, according to police.

Tamim had moved to the UAE in July and bought the apartment 10 days before the crime was committed, police said. Al Mazeina refuted reports that pictures on the building’s security camera led to the suspect’s arrest.

“We had enough and more important evidence in the apartment that led to the identification of the suspect,” he said. The way she was killed further helped narrow down investigations, he added.
Meanwhile, three journalists from a newspaper in Cairo have been referred for questions for violating a ban on publishing a report about investigations with suspects arrested on charges of murdering Tamim. Al Dustour carried a report that two hotel security men from Cairo had confessed to killing her on behalf of an Egyptian client. One said they received $2 million for the job.

Sunday’s edition of the paper disappeared from the market, officials said. The main story on the newspaper’s website has the headline “Is a major Egyptian personality involved in the murder of the Lebanese singer Suzanne Tamim?”

Justice: Father’s relief
Abdul Sattar Tamim, Tamim’s father, told Gulf News that he was relieved that the suspect has been arrested. He expressed his gratitude to Dubai Police and said that he was thankful that justice had started to prevail.

“I thank God for the way things are developing. I trust that the result will be positive God willing. I thank Dubai Police for their efficiency,” he told Gulf News.
He refused to comment further as he is currently in a period of grieving and is still receiving mourners.

With additional inputs from Ramdan Abdulkaddar and Bassam Zaza, Senior Reporter

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Dubai Property Prices – the truth – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 11, 2008


According to Malcolm Gladwell’s latest book quite often we have discovered the truth of a situation long before we are aware or able to communicate it.

In Blink Gladwell uses a game to demonstrate this. In one example, his test subjects are shown four packs of cards, face down. Two are red and two are blue. Participants must choose the correct combination of cards to make money.

After an average of 50 tries, participants realize that blue cards are the means to greater wealth over time. Red cards are much riskier, and the down side is much bigger than any up.”

The point of the game is not to find out how quickly participants can rationalise the game, but how quickly they subconsciously understand its dynamics.Participants were wired up to see the effect of the game on their heart rates. After ten cards or less, red cards induced palpitations.
Blue cards produced no results at all.In other words the test subjects subconsciously understood the game very quickly, but it took their brain another thirty to forty rounds to be able to explain it – and their actions.George Soros, the $9bn man who made a large chunk of his fortune betting the UK would crash out of the ERM used to suffer back aches – which was his body’s way of telling him he need to change his market holding positions. This is a quote from his son, Robert speaking to Soros’ biographer, Michael Kaufman: “My father will sit down and give you theories to explain why he does this or that. But I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking, Jesus Christ, at least half of this is bullshit. I mean, you know the reason he changes his position on the market or whatever is because his back starts killing him. It has nothing to do with reason. He literally goes into a spasm, and it’s his early warning system…

“He is… living in a constant state of not exactly denial, but the rationalisation of his emotional state.”Last week I wrote a column on Dubai property prices. It sparked a lot of debate, with many of you giving infinitely superior rationalisations of why I was wrong – and in far fewer cases right – regarding Dubai’s housing market. My argument was simple: a lack of decent places to live and work in a booming Middle East give Dubai scarcity value – and that means there was more room for property prices to rise.Most of you disagreed.What we are all doing is trying to justify a gut reaction as to where we are on the above chart of what a bubble looks like over time. Some of you may argue we are not on it at all.I have borrowed this chart from Soros’ latest book, The New Paradigm of Financial Markets. To fully explain the curve I would need to go into Soros’ philosophy regarding reflexivity – which would be worthwhile, but not within this column.

Instead, I will explain what the stages look like. The graph or market takes off at point 2.
This is when a trend is recognised (house prices are rising), and is reinforced by a bias (the belief that prices are undervalued and will continue to rise). In a bubble this results in valuations considerably higher than ‘equilibrium’ – the normal balance of supply and demand.Normally the checks and balances of a market will mean at some point ‘testing’ will occur (houses on the Palm fell briefly in 2006 as premiums sky rocketed, and the market wobbled in realisation that many units would not be completed for several years – stage 2). In most cases the set back will return a market to equilibrium.

In a bubble, however, the testing is shrugged off and both the trend and the bias continue (3), normal rules of the market are jettisoned and prices take off (4). It’s at this point, investors are said to be irrationally exuberant, and believe things really can be different this time.According to Soros, there is always a moment of truth, however – stage 5 – when “reality can no longer sustain the exaggerated expectations”.

In period 6 people continue to play the game but no longer believe in it.

Point 7 is reached when the trend turns downwards (house prices fall) and the bias inverses (property prices are over valued), leading to a “catastrophic” downward acceleration (8), also known as a crash.

According to this model the boom-bust cycle starts slowly (prices rise gently), accelerate gradually and then fall steeper than they have risen.Given Malcolm Gladwell’s argument that subconsciously we understand a situation before we can provide a full justification of what is happening, I would like to conduct a little experiment.

What I would like to do is use the Internet to draw your collective subconscious together to pinpoint where as a group ArabianBusiness.com readers think we are on this chart.

I will publish the median score, and if enough of you take part, your best arguments to justify each position.Those of you who argue that we are at stage 1 are arguing we are not in a bubble at all, but that prices are rising to a genuine equilibrium.

Those of you who argue we are in stage 2 are arguing prices have only just begun their journey, and the market will at some point test and correct itself.Those of you who say we are on points 3-5 are arguing that we are in a bubble, but we have not reached the peak yet.

Those of you who say we are at poing 6 are arguing we no longer believe in the valuations – and that a crash is imminent.Very few of us are blessed with a back pain that helps us predict the future.

However, what we have that Soros does not is the Internet, and the ability to draw together the gut instincts of thousands. Comment on this article and we will together form an overview of how much leg room property prices have to run. Make sure you detail whether you are talking about Dubai in particular, or the region as a whole.

Comments : http://www.arabianbusiness.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=527200:dubai-property-prices—the-truth

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Flip mentality Dubai Property Market – Dubai Property Prices – the truth

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 11, 2008


Dubai Property Prices – the truth – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com

Well written article – thoroughly enjoyed it!

My own thoughts are that that we are probably at stage 4, but sometimes I even have disbelief of my own beliefs, (i.e. don’t buy in an upmarket). This because of the sheer numbers of people flocking to Dubai (The Gold Rush Syndrome ?).

But on the back of that I see huge numbers leaving and even more colleagues disenchanted because they cannot even afford the standard of accommodation they took for granted back home and now they wonder what it’s all about.

They came here to have a change in lifestyle, make some money and make a difference, but that fairytale is changing.

The only people to truly benefit truly either the people who bought 3 years ago (lucky them for having had both the money and the foresight), and/or the people who are worried about the future of their own unsettled countries and are setting themselves up “just in case” . They are the lucky ones (or maybe not).

The main question I ask myself constantly is, when did the world become so concerned with property, wealth, and greed. Suddenly (and I do mean suddenly), we seem to be on a world stage where the world has gone quite mad about property.

When did it change from being a roof over our heads with maybe another small investment on the side(i.e. holiday cottage), to this monster making enormous capital gains for speculators.

The question has to be asked, is it driven like oil by speculation. I think the answer quite simply yes. Will it last? I don’t think so. When will it end? Certainly not until the appetites are satisfied.

Is it wrong to speculate on property, probably not. Our forefathers never had the chance to “get rich quick without any effort”, so why not get it if you can I hear everyone say.

The real problem arises however with the “Flip” mentality here in the middle east, and that is something which may catch a lot of people out because they will get in at stage 5 and fall victim to the failings in the system.

Check out the wealthy VIP’s invited to these “salubrious property launches”, they put down deposits on say 10 units, hand over their cheque, go down to the hall where the masses wait clutching passports and cheque books (there will never be another building built in Dubai you would think !). He onsells on first come first serve to these poor suckers, who eagerly pay him a 10% premium just to get the right to jump the queue and buy this rare commodity. He then pops back to the seller, gives them ten cheques and takes back his own!

It’s a joke. I have seen it happen, and its wrong, but can we ever stop it, and who cares, certainly not the flippers.

But that’s Dubai, and it is that greed that just might kill the goose in the end, but when will that be, and where are we on the hraph. Well maybe number 4 or 5, but then again maybe it’s number 2. It is going to be a very interesting scenario as it plays out.

One thing for sure however, the rich get richer and the poor struggle to survive and that will never change, only the degrees of wealth changes at the upper end.

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Deadline set for Ivory Towers explanation – RERA Dubai also warned other developers

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 9, 2008


Deadline set for Ivory Towers explanation – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com: “

Dubai’s real estate regulator (Rera) has given Saudi developer Sokook until next Tuesday to explain why investors in its Ivory Tower project were told to stop payments, leading to the termination of contracts.

Hundreds of investors had purchased off-plan units in the 20-storey residential unit launched in 2005, according to Gulf News.

Last month Sokook promised Rera that construction of Ivory Tower would finally begin on November 1 after a dispute over a bank guarantee with Tecom – master developer of International Media Production Zone (IMPZ) – is resolved.”

Sokook is still cancelling investor contracts, blaming investors for not paying their monthly installments.However, in letters to investors dated on about February 19, Sokook wrote that until construction began, “all payments in the meantime are still postponed”, contradicting itself.Furious investors in the project have now set up an ‘investors group’ which they hope will force

Sokook to reinstate their contracts or refund investments at current market values.There are currently about 30 investors in the group and they have appointed a lawyer.

Investors have said that they want their contracts reinstated or accept refunds on their investments at the current market value.“They are offering 10 per cent at best and our money back. The price for IMPZ per square foot has tripled since we bought into the project,” one investor told the newspaper.

Rera has also warned other master developers and sub developers that it will take action if they fail to fulfill contractual obligations.“

A developer who feels a project has been held up due to delays in the handover of plots by the master developer should contact us,” Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of Rera, said on Monday.“

We will then mediate between the two parties and come to a solution.

We will talk to the master developer and try to find out why the project has been delayed.

We will certainly take action to regulate the market,” he added.

Rera has sent notices to developers instructing them not to cancel agreements or force investors to accept cancellation terms. “

No developer has yet come back to us informing about any cancellations.”

Posted in Dubai | 1 Comment »

Dubai property watchdog launches Chohan probe – Real Estate Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 9, 2008


Dubai property watchdog launches Chohan probe – Real Estate – ArabianBusiness.com: “Dubai’s real estate watchdog is investigating the Dubai operations of a disqualified UK property director whose firm collapsed, owing creditors around $137m.

Balinder Chohan was founder and sole shareholder of UK Land Investments Limited (UKLI) until it went into administration in April. Now he is CEO of a Dubai-registered company called UK Capital Investments Group (UKCIG), which according to its website offers land and property investment opportunities in the UK and Dubai.

“We are looking at UKCIG’s activities in selling plots in the UK, because we have been approached by investors in Dubai wanting to know how solid their UK investments are,” Marwan Bin Ghalita, CEO of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority, told Arabian Business on Wednesday.”

“We are looking at [Chohan’s] activities and… we must be sure that he has approval and the right licences and everything,” he added.Bin Ghalita stressed that RERA currently had no concerns over any UKCIG developments in the UAE itself.Chohan was disqualified in April 2008 for four years for his “unfitness to act as company director”, according to Companies House records.

The ban followed a three-year investigation by the Financial Standards Authority.Investors in the UK bought small plots of farmland from UKLI in the expectation that it would attain planning permission for housing and increase in value as a result. However, none of the land ever gained planning permission, and the FSA charged that UKLI operated as “an illegal collective investment scheme” and denied “investors protection for their money”.

On its website, Dubai-based UKCIG lists itself as an affiliate of UKLI and says that it has “a substantial land bank under management in the wealthy south east of the UK”.The website adds: “The land has been identified by personnel with in-depth planning expertise as having a strong probability of being rezoned from agricultural to developmental use… The UK’s tight planning controls result in a substantial uplift in value when land achieves allocation.”Before it went into administration, UKLI records indicate that approximately 5,000 plots of land were sold to investors, spread over several locations.On Tuesday Arabian Business reported that Chohan had loaned himself almost $1.9 million from UKLI company funds before it went into administration, according to official documents.

The revelation is contained in correspondence obtained by Arabian Business from the former auditors of London-based UK Land Investments Limited, now in administration.In January 2007, UK-based auditors Moore Stephens resigned after expressing concerns about $17.6 million worth of loans made to sister companies and subsidiaries in the UK and abroad – and named Balinder, or ‘Bally’ Chohan as the personal recipient of an “unlawful” $1.872 million loan from UKLI.“The company had loaned 553,002 pounds ($1.1 million) to Bally Chohan. As he was then a director of the company, the loan was unlawful,” the auditor said in a formal letter explaining its decision. “

By September the loan had risen to £957,732 ($1.9 million).”“There could be claims of up to 70 million pounds ($137 million),” Fiona Watson of administrators Deloitte told Arabian Business on Tuesday. “However, we have yet to agree the status of the investors and we are in the very early stages of the administration process.”

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Dirham undervalued 25%, says Big Mac survey

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 4, 2008


Dirham undervalued 25%, says Big Mac survey:

“The UAE dirham, like other Gulf currencies, is undervalued against the US dollar by nearly 25 per cent, says the Big Mac Index survey, conducted by the Economist magazine.

The new data, based on the price of Big Mac burger in various countries, showed the decline of the US dollar versus major currencies, which again strengthens the case for dirham devaluation.

The annual survey found the UAE dirham to be 24 per cent undervalued with respect to the dollar when buying a Big Mac in the country, while the Saudi Arabian riyal was undervalued by 25 per cent. Both the UAE and Saudi currency are directly pegged to the dollar. The Egyptian pound was undervalued to the extent of 31 per cent.

The Big Mac Index is based on the theory of purchasing-power parity (PPP), which says that exchange rates should move to make the price of a basket of goods the same in each country. According to the survey, only a handful of currencies are close to their Big Mac PPP. The British pound, Swedish krona, Swiss franc and Canadian dollar are trading above burger benchmark.”

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Dubai Real Estate ‘Allow foreign ownership’ ?

Posted by 7starsdubai on August 2, 2008


UAE national companies need to tear down barriers for foreign owernship to attract more international capital into the local market, the CEO of Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) said yesterday.
Tom Healy said the rapid growth in the domestic economy was already luring foreign investors into the UAE bourses and expected the inflow to increase in the future.He also said plans to introduce derivatives to ADX were nearly completed and trading in such tools would begin next year.

In an interview with Emirates Business, Healy ruled out a collapse in the UAE stocks despite sharp fluctuations over the past two months, adding such turbulence “is nothing compared to what is happening in global markets”.”

If the law on foreign ownership is changed, then we will see a lot of companies coming to this market.

We are trying to attract more foreign investors, who are also tempted by the rapid economic growth and high return here,” he said.”But the only problem is the restrictions imposed on foreign ownership, mainly by the national companies in the country. So we would like to see these restrictions lifted or reduced so that foreign firms and individuals can increase their investment further and take advantage of the growing opportunities here … my expectations in the long turn are that foreign investors will continue to grow.”

Asked about plans to introduce derivatives to ADX, he said they are part of an ongoing programme to develop the bourse and expected the project to materialise next year.”

There is no organised derivatives market in the Gulf. We are trying to introduce this type of investment to ADX. The legal framework is there and the authorities have an open mind about this plan. Such things usually take time but we are working on them and let’s hope they will materialise sometime next year,” he said.
Healy expected ADX to perform better this year, citing a nine per cent growth in the index in the first half and a large increase in foreign dealing to nearly 24 per cent. He said recent turbulence in the UAE bourses was normal in a stock market.

“There might be some turbulence over the past two month but it is nothing compared to what is happening internationally,” he said.”
As for a collapse in the local market, I don’t think there will be a collapse in ADX…a collapse could happen to an individual company having problems or with poor outlook and this is not the case here. Again, I say a collapse will not happen here.”

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