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Archive for September, 2008

Dubai Real Estate – What is a contract ?

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 28, 2008


Contracts are promises that the law will enforce.

Recently, the Dubai property market has witnessed an increasing spate of developers falling behind schedule on their construction milestones. In addition, some developers have even tried to abort entire property developments after off-plan sales, seeking instead to buy back unfinished properties from their investors. In this special report, PROPERTYworks investigates to find out more…

While local property investors get edgy about construction delays and compromises on quality, lawyers are experiencing a renaissance as disgruntled customers engage the legal system here to get back at certain developers.

But a court case is by no means a quick fix. It would be expensive and very difficult to rely on the courts when a developer gets behind schedule. Instead, making oneself aware of the basic elements of a contract and speaking up for one’s rights are the most effective ways to ensure that property developers deliver exactly what they promise and on time.
Currently, most real estate investors in Dubai purchase their properties ‘off-plan’, which means they wait for the construction to commence and for their homes to be completed. In all fairness, almost every property developer in the UAE, big or small, is very keen to promote the UAE as a good place to buy and a great place to live.

Most developers enter into their contracts with investors in good faith and with the full intention of meeting their deadlines. In fact, they themselves probably enter into similar back-to-back contracts with contractors for matching deadlines.
There are, however, a host of factors outside of the control of the developers, especially now, when there is so much strain on construction resources.

Rising construction costs in the UAE are putting extreme pressure on most property developers. The cost of construction has risen significantly in the past few years, with steel prices rising by 38 per cent in 2007 and cement prices by 30 per cent in the same period, according to figures from the construction consultancy EC Harris.

An EFG Hermes report said construction cost inflation is being driven higher by rising costs of building materials, as well as the rising cost of labour. A serious shortage of labour and raw materials and strong demand, as well as the mandatory adoption of green building codes and health and life insurance, are likely to increase construction costs in the UAE even further this year. A tonne of steel reinforcement bar (rebar) now costs about US$1,150 (AED4,223), up from US$980 in March. The wholesale price of cement was this month capped by the ministry of economy at AED340 per tonne, up from AED295.

Price increases have meant that building firms risk huge financial losses, or even bankruptcy, if they sign deals that do not make provisions for price escalation. In some cases, the pressures have resulted in concern that the quality of construction is being compromised.
News of the cancellation of Damac Properties’ Palm Springs development was the first to break into the media. Homes in the project were sold more than five years ago, but construction until today has yet to start.

Opprobrium for Damac’s announcement came from as far away as London, where investors threatened to sue the developer unless the properties they had paid for were built.

Palm Springs should have been completed by the end of last year, but Damac postponed construction of the homes and finally cancelled it completely in March. Damac offered to buy back the ownership rights to the properties at a premium of six per cent per annum for every year since investors bought it. An investment of US$1 million when the project was launched five years ago previously would only be bought back for US$1.33 million – hardly the return that the rest of the Dubai property boom was delivering over the same period.

Damac claimed the cancellation was due to planning changes imposed on it by Nakheel, the master developer of Palm Jebel Ali, on which Palm Springs was due to reside. Nakheel denied any responsibility. Following discussions between Nakheel, Damac and the industry watchdog, the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (RERA), Damac agreed to complete the project. Officials of the RERA said the major concern was to protect the interests of investors and the reputation of the real estate sector in Dubai.

The Damac case was a rather high profile project and a high profile development. Obviously, from the time of entering into contracts with initial buyers to the stage at which the development should have been delivered, prices in the market have increased significantly as well.

If investors had gone ahead with a court case to recover just their initial stake, not only would they have lost any further potential capital that they had invested and any interest on any loans that they had taken out, but also the capital growth in the market that they could have invested elsewhere.

According to Jane Dalton, a property lawyer with the law firm Trowers & Hamlins in Abu Dhabi: “At the moment, there is very little scope for individual investors to negotiate termination and compensation provisions with developers. It really is a take-it-or-leave-it attitude. And I think going forward, it would be helpful if developers were more open to negotiation of those original sales terms at an earlier stage.”

“Usually a purchase contract has certain provisions specified for delays, and usually depending on the reason for that delay, whether it is directly attributable to the developer, or a matter that is outside of their control, those provisions will dictate at which stage a buyer can actually withdraw from the contract and what is payable in terms of compensation,” she continued. “There do tend to be periods built into the contracts by which both parties accept that the developer may overrun for specific reasons.”

Of course, the consequence of withdrawing from a contract is that the only thing that is reimbursable to the buyer is his initial stake in the property. By the time or termination of the contract due to delays, the property value might have gone up many times. And obviously, if one has bought in the secondary or tertiary market, then one would only be entitled to the price put down by the original buyer.

“And so there could be quite a disparity between what you could actually reclaim by withdrawing from the contract and what one could potentially recoup by waiting and hanging on for the delays to finish,” added Dalton.

During the construction phase, a property investor has no ownership right to his property, and so his only security is found in the sale and purchase agreement that he signed with the property developer. Quite simply, the only option one has in case the developer gets behind schedule or doesn’t live up to promises before the construction has been completed and the property handed over, is to sue the developer in a UAE court – an option that could take years for a final decision.

“It very much boils down to the contract between the purchaser and the developer,” said Mohammed Kamal, associate at Al Tamimi & Company Advocates and Legal Consultants. “Now, usually the contracts allow flexibility to the developer. A developer will usually indicate at least a target date for estimated delivery and then allow room for going beyond that – typically, it can be up to 13 months.

That is quite acceptable in the market right now, both in Dubai and Abu Dhabi.”
“There really isn’t anything else in the laws and regulations, and I think it would really rest on the terms of the contract, and if there was a clear breach of the contract on the part of the developer, then the purchaser would be entitled to take action in the courts or any other alternative form of dispute resolution, if stipulated in the contract,” he added.

Particular attention should be paid by investors to clauses in the contract dealing with any delivery dates and under what circumstances these dates may be pushed back by the developer.
Contracts are promises that the law will enforce. The law provides remedies if such a promise is violated, and recognises the performance of that promise as a duty. Contracts arise when a duty does or may come into existence, because of a promise made by one of the parties.
In order to be a legally binding contract, a promise must be exchanged for adequate ‘consideration’. Adequate consideration is a benefit or detriment a party receives, which reasonably and fairly induces them to make the promise.

An example of this would be purchasing an off-plan apartment from a property developer. The developer and the buyer come together to discuss the terms of the exchange (in all likelihood, the purchase is outlined in a written agreement). Thus, they have fulfilled the first requirement of consideration. To meet the second requirement, there must be a mutual exchange. In this case, the property developer (if one of the main developers in Dubai) provides ownership if the apartment is in a freehold area of Dubai, while the buyer provides payment. Third, the bargain terms must be of value. The apartment is worth what the buyer hands over. Therefore, this contract has met its consideration requirement, because it fits all elements of consideration.

he UAE is essentially a Civil Law jurisdiction heavily influenced by French, Egyptian, Roman and Islamic law. The increasing presence of international commercial contracts has resulted in the application of English common law practices, further influencing the UAE legal system.

The law relating to contracts in common law specifies that the agreement must consist of an offer and acceptance, and also consideration for a contract to exist. It is important that buyers learn to recognise these elements in contracts they plan to sign.


An offer is an indication by one person to another of their willingness to contract on certain terms without further negotiations.

A contract is then formed if there is express or implied agreement. A contract is said to come into existence when acceptance of an offer has been communicated to the one making the offer.

Another important element to understand is misrepresentation. Misrepresentation is a false statement of fact made by one party to another party and has the effect of inducing that party into the contract.

For example, under certain circumstances, false statements or promises made by a seller of goods regarding the quality or nature of the product that the seller has may constitute misrepresentation.

In the UK, a finding of misrepresentation by a court of law allows for a remedy of rescission (termination of the contract), and sometimes damages depending on the type of misrepresentation found to have taken place. However, common law principles are not explicitly recognised under UAE law.
Despite the differences between legal systems, lawyers like Carol Alderson in Dubai, who has been practicing in the UK and the UAE for the last 25 years, vows to bring about more robust protection for property investors.

The way sales agreements are drafted in Dubai is very one-sided in favour of developers, and unless customers are aware of their legal rights, they will not know how to protect themselves from becoming unfairly disadvantaged,” said Alderson, who is a senior partner at Samial Al Midfa Advocacy and Legal Consultants in Dubai.

“If we get a precedent ruling in a Dubai court against a developer for construction delays, then it will deter future developers from making promises that they cannot keep and will change the way sales and purchase agreements are drafted here,” she explained.

Adopting previous court judgment is another principle of a common law practice that is not recognised in the UAE. However, such precedents may in Dubai be presented to the court for persuasion purposes.

“Precedents do deter people,” Alderson pointed out.

Dalton further added:

“Within the region, the terms and conditions of contracts that I’ve seen are fairly standard, and I don’t think you could distinguish between one project and one developer from another. It is just the state of the market here, and it is very much a developing market.”
Most lawyers are in agreement that developers are not being brought to task for their demands that customers sign contracts “as is”, regardless of whether the developers are actually able and willing to perform the obligations specified therein.

Developers are obviously going to want to protect their interests as best they can, and it is supply and demand that determines whether a developer will be able to adopt a “take it or leave it” approach with regard to the contracts they produce. The level of demand for property in the past has put developers in a strong position with regard to the contracts they produce, and if a particular buyer wasn’t prepared to accept the developer’s standard form of contract, then there were usually ten others that would have.

It remains to be seen whether there will be a slowdown in the UAE market that may result in buyers being placed in a stronger bargaining position than previously.

Some developers have given buyers the option of a full refund if there are delays beyond the 12 months, while others provide no recourse and buyers just have to sit and wait for them to complete the work.

“Penalties have been paid as well as interest to disgruntled purchasers by certain developers, but it is certainly not the norm. The developers have considerable flexibility,” said Kamal.
Consumer protection in DubaiIn Dubai, new consumer protection laws will protect the purchaser in the case of non-delivery or late delivery. There is also the regulatory watchdog, the RERA. So, a developer is now subject to further controls in terms of its construction progress and ultimate delivery to the buyer.

Specifically, the Trust (Escrow) Account Law has established the setting up of escrow accounts for property development to protect purchasers of off-plan properties by ensuring that the payments made to a developer in advance of handover of a completed unit are protected in a separate ‘escrow’ account until certain construction milestones are met.
The law is applicable to all property developers in Dubai, and they are required to set up trust accounts to deposit all monies received from customers for off-plan property sales.

The funds collected from buyers are to be held in escrow accounts that will be offered at banks that are licensed to offer such facilities by the Dubai RERA.

Funds will only be released to the developer (for the purpose of funding the project) once certain stages of construction are completed. An independent surveyor will assess the stages of completion of construction.
In addition, the Dubai Land Department will hold 10 per cent of the value of the development in the escrow account for one year after handover to act as a warranty for any defects in the construction or finishing of the property.

“I think the risk of non-delivery is somewhat less now for developments in Dubai. Developers are doing the proper budget allocations required so that they can make good on their promises. We don’t just have the contract now, but there are regulatory measures to protect the purchaser in Dubai,” said Kamal.

“The Trust Account Law applies retrospectively. In some cases, if a project is fairly advanced and is close to delivery, we have seen cases of the Escrow Law requirements being waived.”
He added: “I would say that anything that is 70 per cent or above completed is likely to be exempted from the Trust Account Law, subject to approval by the RERA, because the risk of non-delivery is less.”

Another thing off-plan property investors in Dubai should be on guard for is shoddy workmanship.

All sales agreements should specify a written schedule about the finishing and fittings included in the property. Brand names should be mentioned if applicable to the quality promised. If this is not done, a buyer should be prepared to accept whatever he gets, and will have no recourse to get this rectified later.

One cannot anticipate structural defects that may crop up, but in Dubai, buyers have the Joint Ownership of Property Law (the Strata Law), which assures that all property developers will remain liable for 10 years from the date of completion of a building to repair and rectify any defects in the structural elements of a property. This includes the main supports, roofs, foundations, walls, ceilings hallways, stairwells, etc.

n addition, according to the Dubai Strata Law, all developers also remain liable for one year from the date of completion to repair or replace defective installations in the common property, including mechanical and electrical works, sanitary and plumbing installations, etc. Thereafter, these liabilities devolve to the owners.

There have been a number of complaints about the quality going into the finishing of certain property developments in Dubai. Once again, the advice to buyers is to purchase a property from a developer that has already built properties that are completed, so they can have a look at them inside and out to assess the quality of the finish.

Is it a crime?

But do unfulfilled promises or delays in construction by developers add up to the crime of misrepresentation or fraud, as some lawyers allege they do?

Alderson said: “If written communication is made about what you intend to receive from the developer, and if you don’t receive that, then those written confirmations are misrepresentations by the developer.

If the first stage of construction (the ground breaking) has not even started by the end of the date stipulated in the sales contract, then it is a clear case of breach of contract, and it means the developer is guilty of fraud and had no intention of honoring the performance of its obligations.”

Kamal agrees: “It could be considered misrepresentation, yes. If a date for delivery has been stated somewhere in the marketing literature, the contract or some kind of assurance has been made to the purchaser that they would deliver the property by a certain date, and the purchaser could prove that it would not be realistically possible, then I think that a purchaser would be entitled to make such a claim.”

In order for the concept of misrepresentation in the UAE Civil Code to apply in a case, it would require that the party claiming misrepresentation shows that there was an element of “trickery” on the part of the party accused of misrepresentation.

The Dubai courts tend to require a direct link to be shown between any breach of contract and damages suffered, meaning that an investor, at best, is only likely to get his or her money back in the event of a successful court action (and possibly a minimal costs and interest award). Indirect, consequential or penal damages are very difficult to obtain.

Shahram Safai, partner at Afridi & Angell Legal Consultants, said it is theoretically possible to frame an action based on misrepresentation. However, it is much more difficult to prove in court.

“It should be noted that courts will want to see proof that the developer deceived the buyer by means of trickery to induce the buyer to sign the sale and purchase agreement, for example by stating that the completion date would be much earlier even though the developer knew that this was not the case. It may be difficult for buyers to assemble and to provide such proof to the court as evidence,” he explained.

“In my opinion, an action can be successfully maintained by a buyer on the basis of [what is in the written contract], assuming all material facts support his or her claim. In such an event, a court should order a refund of the payments made by the buyer, as well as interest and any penalties,” added Safai.

As stated before, most sale and purchase agreements in the UAE cover the consequences of delay of completion. These consequences are generally: (1) Interest or a penalty is paid and (2) If delay extends beyond a predetermined date, the buyer can terminate the agreement and receive back his payments along with applicable interest or penalties.

Property investors should make sure that such remedies are included in all contracts they sign to purchase off-plan, and that the terms are clear and explicit.
Kamal said: “Very few cases of this nature go to court. We have seen various investors raising the issue of delays, negotiating and settling with the developer by way of compensation or some other concession to account for the delays in delivery. But I have not seen cases going to court, because it is just not seen as worthwhile from the investor’s standpoint to pay the money to run a court case.”
If penalty clauses for construction delays were made compulsory as a mandatory part of all off-plan sales agreements, this may deter developers and act as a further incentive to ensure that properties are delivered on time.

The most important message that should get across to property investors is simply that they should read their contracts very carefully and ask questions about any provisions that they are unsure about.

Investors should not be afraid to ask for changes or clarifications to be made to the contract before they sign, and a developer’s response to any such reasonable request may give an indication of the respectability of the developer.


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dubai Flats’ rents likely to rise as sharing of villas are problematic

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 28, 2008

Flats’ rents likely to rise as sharing of villas vetoed – The National Newspaper

The cost of renting flats in Dubai and its neighbouring emirates is expected to rise following the decision to evict families sharing villas, estate agents predicted yesterday.Thousands of affluent families living in shared villas in Jumeirah, Umm Suqeim, Al Rashidiya and Abu Hail are now looking to move to flats after the Dubai Municipality announced that only one family could live in each villa.

The authority announced a 30-day deadline, ending next month, for the extra families to move out.“The rental prices of apartments are rising day by day, but the news from the municipality will definitely push them up [further],” said Wassim Tarik Malik, an agent working with Wateredge Real Estate in Dubai.

“Pushing the rental price up will also push the property value up, and this can be seen from the last couple of months.”Agents said that two months ago, a one-bedroom flat in the Dubai Marina area was renting for an average of Dh120,000 (US$32,600) a year.

Today, it is nearly impossible to find one for less than Dh140,000. “These prices will keep increasing on a daily basis now,” Mr Malik said.Bassam Abu Diwan, an estate agent with Al Masah, confirmed that a large number of clients he had seen in the past few weeks looking to rent flats were being forced to leave their villas.

A lot of residents from The Springs and Mirdiff areas are asking specifically because of this reason,” he said. “Moving to a villa is no longer an option.”Farhan Zia, an agent with Exelet Real Estate, said: “The situation is shocking because the prices are going up by the day.”According to Mr Zia, the rise in rental prices coupled with the exodus from shared villas is having the knock-on effect of making life very hard for single people in Dubai. Estate agents are forbidden to rent villas to single people, he said, which means they can live only in flats.

“What is also difficult is that apartment landlords are asking for yearly cheques in advance, but people are now being forced to comply because there is no other alternative,” he said. “This is definitely a landlord’s market.”People living in villas in The Springs, Meadows, Arabian Ranches and Al Barsha are also being forced to move to pricier neighbourhoods such as Dubai Marina and Jumeirah Beach Residence.
It is now impossible to find a two-bed apartment in JBR for less than Dh200,000 a year,” said Mr Zia.The municipality launched the villa eviction campaign in July, slapping notices on villas in Al Rashidiya area.

This week, a 30-day final deadline was announced for all villas in Dubai. “No more notices would be issued to villas. Even those families who are sharing villas but have not received notices must move out within the deadline,” a spokesman for the municipality said. He added that once the deadline expired, violators would have their water and electricity supplies cut off, and landlords would face heavy fines – up to Dh50,000.

Charles Thornton, who shares a villa in Umm Suqeim, is unsure of what to do. “I am really scared. I do not want to move to Jumeirah Beach Residence or Dubai Marina because it’s just too expensive,” he said. “
We have started looking but it is all out of our price range, and the prices seem to be increasing too rapidly. Our villa is nice and spacious, and a lot of the apartments are much smaller and you will be paying so much more.“

What happens if they turn around and decide to throw people out of apartments for sharing?” he said.

The municipality confirmed the new rules apply only to villas, and not to people sharing flats.

Some families have already had their electricity supplies cut off. “We lived in darkness for weeks but have not managed to find another home,” said a resident of a villa in Abu Hail. He said he shared the large traditional villa with nine other families until inspectors served them notice last month. “Many have moved out but families with children have stayed because they have to think about the school transport.
Unable to bear the heat, we have moved to a hotel room,” he said.

Families are now appealing for more time to move out of their villas, and also asking for alternative accommodation. Some families living in villas also claim that they have paid several months rent in advance to their landlords, who are refusing to return the money.
However, the municipality has insisted there will be no further extensions of the deadline.

It said what people do to find alternative accommodation is not its concern.

A spokesman for the municipality added: “Families who have formal contracts with landlords can approach the rent committee and make a complaint.

However, nothing can be done for those without contracts.”


Posted in Dubai Flat rent | Tagged: , , | Comments Off on dubai Flats’ rents likely to rise as sharing of villas are problematic

Gulfnews: Jumeirah beaches must be sewage free

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 27, 2008

Gulfnews: Jumeirah beaches must be sewage free

Gulf NewsPublished: September 26, 2008, 23:32

The tankers which clean out thousands of cess pits around Dubai are supposed to take the sewage to be treated in the city’s sewage plants in Awir and Jebel Ali.
But the vast queues of tankers at these inadequate plants force the drivers to wait for many hours.

As a result they chose to dump the sewage in the road system’s storm drains.

This then oozes out through the drainage system (which is only supposed to handle sudden rain water) and emerges into the sea.

As a result, raw sewage is washing up on beaches in Jumeirah and beyond.

It is a serious danger to people’s health, with germs having already been detected in the water used by thousands of people innocently enjoying the magnificent beaches of Dubai’s coast.

Blocking the drains is not the answer.

Stopping the dumping is imperative, particularly as the tourist season is about to start.

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Gulfnews: Jumeirah beaches must be sewage free

Dubai property to slow on global credit crisis – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 26, 2008

Dubai property to slow on global credit crisis – The National Newspaper:

Last Updated: September 25. 2008 2:43PM UAE / GMT

Profits in Dubai’s buoyant property sector could ease and sales slow as buyers become more selective in the wake of the global credit crisis, the Dubai Land Department chief said in remarks published today.

“The correction in profit levels will not be felt across Dubai as it will be limited to some areas only,” Sultan Butti bin Mijrin told a local newspaper.

“The outlook for the sector remains positive with registered property sales so far this year reaching 200 billion dirhams” he added.

In stark contrast to the United States and Europe, where the subprime mortgage crisis has already hit the property sector, Gulf property markets continue to boom on the back of high oil prices.

The property market in the UAE, the world’s fifth largest oil exporter, has been growing rapidly, pushing up property and rental prices, driving soaring inflation and raising fears that the sector is overheating.

Mr Mijrin’s comments come in the wake of a raft of reports predicting slower UAE property growth.

Credit Suisse said this week that the global market turmoil and the negative sentiment on the future of the property market in Dubai could lead to a slowdown in the region’s property sales and would also hurt demand in Abu Dhabi.

* Reuters

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Dubai property to slow on global credit crisis – The National Newspaper

Gulfnews: No more frustration over project delays

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 25, 2008

Gulfnews: No more frustration over project delays:

By Suzanne Fenton, Staff ReporterPublished: September 24, 2008, 23:39

Investors in Dubai’s property sector will no longer have to bear with frustrating project delays, thanks to new laws that hold developers accountable.

The introduction of Law 13 and Law 14 aims to increase transparency and honesty in Dubai’s property sector, according to senior officials at Dubai’s Land department.
“After registration and approval, all the property information is entered into the system. We will know all details about the projects. There is no reason for delays,” said Mohammad Sultan Thani, Assistant Director-General of the Land Department, during a media roundtable yesterday.

Law 13 requires all developers to pre-register off-plan properties with the land department to create a full database of property transactions.

Law 14, or the mortgage law, makes it easier for banks to secure proof of land titles.

Both laws came into effect last week.

“Law 13 is very good for the market,” said Marwan Bin Galita, CEO of the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera).

The main objective of Law 13 is to ensure developers register all projects before they launch sales.
“No one can release a project unless all the approvals are in place,” Bin Galita said. Under this law, approval must be sought from about five specified government bodies, including the RTA, Dewa, Dubai Municipality, Rera and the Land Department.

Sultan Butti Bin Mejrin, Director-General of the Land Department, said action will be taken against developers violating the law.

Currently, some developers demand a deposit on the unit before a sales and purchase agreement is given. Law 13 states that as soon as the deposit is paid, the sales and purchase agreement should be given immediately.

The new law also stipulates an acceptable increase in the floorplan of a unit. On completion, if the floorplan is smaller than originally agreed, the buyer is entitled to compensation.

Under Law 8, developers have six months from registration to start construction on a project. And developers are not allowed to cancel a project without first informing the Land department.
In line with efforts to increase transparency, the property court is set to begin operations in the first week of October.

Bin Mejrin estimated that 96 cases have been solved with mediation in the Land Department so far.
“The biggest challenge is collecting the data. The other challenge is the behaviour of the investor,” Bin Galita said, referring to those investors who still do transactions with unregistered developers.
Bin Galita also said that the new rent cap will be completed and announced by the end of October.
All three officials said the global financial credit crunch, negative market reports or the recent wave of investigations in Dubai will not damage the market in any way.

“I still have confidence in this market,” Bin Galita said.

Around Dh200 billion worth of transactions have been registered so far within the Land department.
Real estate

Black and white

Registered developers 826
Registered projects 1,624
Registered brokers 4,154
Certified brokers 1,300
Registered broker offices 1,772
Authorised banks 34
Registered contracts 2,176

How to buy

1) Decide what property to buy

.2) Check it is a registered developer, with an approved project

.3) Check trust account is in place.

4) If you want an agent, check that the agent is registered.

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Gulfnews: There are no political crimes or prisoners in the UAE: official

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 25, 2008

Gulfnews: There are no political crimes or prisoners in the UAE: official:

Dubai: There are no political prisoners in the UAE and no political crimes have been registered, confirmed a senior security official.

There is not a single person imprisoned in the UAE because of his opinion, and no political crimes have been carried out here… Our government supports all UAE nationals in their search of an honourable life in their country,” Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police, told a press gathering during a Ramadan Majlis held on Monday night. It was organised by Dubai Press Club.
Al Mazeina was commenting on some reports in the international media which raised the issues of political prisoners and the restrictions on the freedom of expression in the UAE.

“What has been reported by some foreign media organisations might have been raised to serve the interests of some parties with certain orientations, therefore we do not pay much attention to these claims, and because we believe in the freedom of expression we do not put restrictions on what they write,” said Al Mazeina.

Al Mazeina pointed out that a clear indication of the importance the UAE attaches to press freedom is the decree issued by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to not allow the imprisonment of journalists.
“There are some reporters and news editors who have their own interpretations of the rules and these interpretations make them not publish reports on certain labour protests and we are not concerned with such interpretation as we do not oppress the press and they merely state their interpretation,” said Al Mazeina.

There is a difference between peaceful labour protests and riots and vandalising acts. In incidents which involves riots the police have to intervene to protect people’s life and property, according to Al Mazeina.
“Anybody who participates in riots will be arrested and taken to court to receive his punishment as per the law,” said Al Mazeina. “The UAE is keen to protect workers’ rights and has issued rules and regulations to protect these rights.”
In step with change

The main duties of Dubai Police are to keep the security apparatus in step with the security and safety demands of the continuously growing city, a senior police official has said.
Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Deputy Chief of Dubai Police, said the expansion of Dubai and its transformation into an “international” city have to be coupled with the advancement of Dubai Police in order to achieve comprehensive security coverage.

“Our strategic plan goes parallel to the development plan of Dubai and we are working closely with real estate developers to achieve security expansion which is compatible with the constructional expansion,” said Al Mazeina adding that major contracting companies have helped in developing police stations in new residential communities.

With the transformation of Dubai into a global hub, the UAE is no longer in isolation from the rest of the world in every aspect of life, including crime. But this does not pose a challenge to Dubai Police, according to Al Mazeina.

“Globalisation does not pose a challenge to Dubai Police, on the contrary we learn from our exposure, and through experience we acquire confidence in our capabilities,” Al Mazeina said, adding that they continuously develop both their human resources and the technology used to keep up to date with new challenges.

The large number of investments means that the UAE is exposed to different types of crimes, and Dubai Police have initiated new legislation that is compatible with the current situation.

“The government has issued legislations that protect the money and property of people, as well as combat crimes,” Al Mazeina said. He cited anti-money laundering laws in this regard.
He said police have managed to limit the cases of dud cheques. Some Dh3 billion worth of bad cheques have been recovered in 2007.

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Kippreport » Cover Story Real Estate The Work » Dubai Boomtown no more?

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 24, 2008

Kippreport » Cover Story Real Estate The Work » Boomtown no more?

September 24 , 2008

Yet another company has come forth and said the Gulf building boom is threatened by rising construction costs. ESI International, a project management and training company, says soaring salaries for technical professionals is threatening projects in the Gulf region worth $2.4trn.
Previously, most of the hand-wringing about the sustainability of the region’s building boom has resulted from the rising cost of raw materials, in particular steel and cement, or from concerns that prices would undergo a correction as an oversupply comes onto the market.
Yet cost pressure on the steel and cement front seems to have eased since the start of this year. Gulf

News reported today that the price of steel in the UAE, after rising from Dh3,000 ($817) per tonne early this year to Dh 6,000 ($1635) over the summer, had dropped again back to a more moderate Dh3,500 ($954).

The ESI report is part of a string of warnings about the sustainability of the region’s building boom. In January, Saudi-owned developer Rakaa Properties grabbed headlines with a report that some 40 per cent of the current Dh1.5 trillion ($400 billion) worth of real-estate projects in Dubai had been “temporarily suspended” because contractors and developers could not afford to pay for raw materials, the cost of which had shot up in preceding months.
While steel and cement have come down, concern about costs obviously remains.

ESI is now saying that it’s not just the cost of raw materials that is threatening the boom, but the rising salaries of professionals such as engineers and project managers. Perhaps the statement can be taken with a grain of salt, as it appears to be part of a prepared statement by the company – in other words, a press release.

Business Intelligence Middle East carries the press release in its entirety, noting that ESI International is “the leading provider of project management training and business analysis” and Haddad is “an expert on the attraction and retention of key personnel.”

Still, the fact that companies feel emboldened enough to promote themselves by warning of a slowdown in Dubai’s much-vaunted boom speaks of the obvious strain on resources, both material and human, that is being exacted by growth pressure and rising costs.
If projects’ completion is truly threatened, it complicates efforts to forecast future movements of the property market. Dubai in particular is increasingly talked about as a potential real estate bubble, with regional investment bank EFG-Hermes recently predicting a 20 percent fall in housing prices by 2011 after a peak in the first half of 2009.

Morgan Stanley has mentioned a Singapore-style meltdown, following the model of the Southeast Asian statelet in the 1990s, as a possible worst-case scenario for Dubai.
Yet it’s difficult to imagine that happening if development stalls and builders can’t afford to build fast enough to keep up with rising demand, be it due to rising salaries or soaring raw materials costs.

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No slowdown in corruption fight – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 22, 2008

No slowdown in corruption fight – The National Newspaper:

Sarmad Khan
Last Updated: September 21. 2008 10:33PM UAE / September 21. 2008 6:33PM GMT

Even as Dubai’s business and financial community works to steady its ship in stormy international markets, the emirate continues to struggle with a series of internal corruption investigations likely to shape its economic trajectory at least as much over time.The global financial and equities meltdown has raised some questions about the solidity of the country’s financial and property markets. But whatever the near-term consequences, the persistent investigations underscore that fighting corruption remains a priority. “It’s a process you can’t reverse or slow down, whatever the consequences,” said Mohammed Ali Yasin, the managing director of Shuaa Securities. “Now is as good a time as any to root out corruption and finish what Dubai has started. The long-term benefits outweigh the damage the anti-corruption drive could do in the short-term.”

Dubai’s business community started hearing the reports of alleged corruption and financial misdeeds in some of biggest listed and private financial and real estate companies in April. Media broke the news that Zack Shahin, the former chief executive of the property firm Deyaar Development, had been in jail for weeks, the subject of a corruption investigation. A series of arrests since then have highlighted the underdeveloped regulatory system, an unwillingness of corporations to share information and a hush-hush approach of investigators – all of which have kept observers and investors guessing about the actual nature of alleged wrongdoing and how the bottom lines of the firms may be affected.

Yet there also appears to be a determined effort to begin addressing some of the shortcomings that have been exposed. Arrests have included chief executives of finance, mortgage and real estate firms, owners of property projects and advertising firms, private investors, top bankers, middle managers and sales executives. The message was loud and clear when the media office of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, released a Public Prosecution statement saying that “fighting corruption is at the top of the [Dubai] Government’s priorities”. The unusual public statement was the first acknowledgement that the Dubai authorities were conducting a co-ordinated series of investigations aimed at alleged white-collar financial improprieties.

Dubai has been trying to leverage its geographical location to set up a financial centre that would bridge established financial hubs in western and Asian regions. However, corporate governance, compliance, transparency, arbitration regulations, and timely and accurate disclosures are some of the stumbling blocks that have prevented Dubai from so far rivalling some of the more transparently regulated financial hubs such as New York, London and Singapore.

The deficiencies revealed by the long-running investigations so far are occurring on three fronts: internal controls, transparency and follow-through. While almost no information has been revealed concerning the details of any alleged wrongdoing, the range of companies and executives that have been swept up in the allegations has raised questions about control over and monitoring of operations. “It is really shocking why internal and external auditors could not detect what, in some cases, had been going on for months the companies,” said Wadah Taha, a senior Dubai-based analyst. “So many investigations only suggest that the internal and external auditor have not been par excellence.”

Mr Yasin said auditors, or the lack of forcefulness displayed by them, may explain some of the problems. “Auditors need to be reminded [that] they are employed by the shareholders to protect their interest,” he said. “The board pays the cheque but that does not mean they [the auditors] have loyalty with the board,” he said. According to Mr Taha, if the standards of auditing were high enough, a lot of what has surfaced could have been prevented. “They should be changing auditors every two or three years.”

Deyaar kept its investors in the dark about the investigation for almost two weeks and did not inform the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are traded. The Dubai Islamic Bank, the country’s largest and oldest Islamic bank, was the next to be investigated, followed by Tamweel, the private property developer Sama Dubai and state-controlled Nakheel – and all kept information away from the public for periods of time.

The most high-profile arrests so far are those of Adel al Shirawi, the former chief executive of Tamweel, and Feras Kalthoum, the former head of finance of Tamweel, which kept the news of its former top executives out of the market for more than a week. Tamweel did the same when its deputy chief executive, Abdullah Nasser Abdullah, was arrested earlier this month and waited for the media to break the news instead of informing its own shareholders.

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Chairman of Khaleej Times removed from his post – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 22, 2008

Chairman of Khaleej Times removed from his post – The National Newspaper:

Bradley Hope
Last Updated: September 22. 2008 3:00PM UAE / September 22. 2008 11:00AM GMT
Abu Dhabi //

Adel al Shirawi, the former Tamweel and Istithmar World executive under investigation by Dubai authorities for financial improprieties, has been removed from his position as chairman of the Khaleej Times, officials said.Galadari Brothers, the parent company of the Khaleej Times, announced that Hussain Ali Lootah would take over his position.
Mr Lootah is the chief executive of Dubai Media Incorporated, a government-owned company that manages several television channels including Dubai One and Sama Dubai.

Mohammed al Shaibani, director general of the Ruler’s Court and chief executive of the Investment Corporation of Dubai, did not mention Mr Shirawi in his statement. Instead, he praised Mr Lootah, saying he “represents a core group of UAE nationals, who have excelled in their professional careers and are ever willing to take up new challenges to help drive the development of significant initiatives in the country”.

Two years ago the Investment Corporation of Dubai, an investment group owned by the Dubai Government, acquired a 30 per cent share of Galadari Brothers.

Four of the seven boardmembers of the newspaper are employees of companies wholly owned by either Dubai Holdings – a private company of Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai – or the Investment Corporation of Dubai.

Mr Shirawi could not be reached for comment.

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Dubai property defies global trends – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 21, 2008

Dubai property defies global trends – The National Newspaper:

Last Updated: September 20. 2008 9:11PM UAE / September 20. 2008 5:11PM GMT

Property prices in Dubai have withstood the pressures of a tumultuous year in the industry worldwide, surging on the back of solid economic growth and a rise in construction costs, according to a survey conducted by The National.

The survey found that the prices of villas increased faster than those of offices and apartments, posting a 76 per cent jump in the year to last month, while office prices rose 74 per cent and apartments 63 per cent. Office prices have increased faster than apartments over the past year, with record highs in Downtown Burj Dubai and Tecom.

Analysts said the increase in prices could be attributed to the country’s solid economic growth, an influx of expatriates seeking new job opportunities, rising construction costs sparked by steady inflation in raw materials and a labour shortage. Analysts said they anticipated further price increases in the sector. “You’d expect to see prices grow in Dubai and in the UAE in general, but at what rate we are not quite sure yet,” said Vincent Easton, the head of sales at Sherwoods, a property agency.The survey looked at developments in 16 major investment zones in Dubai which spanned a range of price levels. The intention of the survey was to follow up prices of residential and commercial properties on a monthly basis.The survey was compiled in association with the National Bank of Abu Dhabi, Al Mal Capital, Colliers International, Better Homes, Hamptons International and Sherwoods, all of which provided property sales data. The National also intends to track the sale prices of some residential and commercial properties in Abu Dhabi on a monthly basis, although the capital’s secondary market is still in its infancy.mailto:infancy.ngillet@thenational.ae

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Tide of filth costs Dubai Offshore Sailing Club its licence – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 18, 2008

original published http://www.thenational.ae/

Tide of filth costs club its licence – The National Newspaper:


Dubai’s internationally renowned sailing club has lost its licence to teach and had its latest regatta spoiled after illegally dumped sewage flooded its private harbour.

The Dubai Offshore Sailing Club lost its Royal Yachting Association (RYA) accreditation yesterday after effluent dumped into a storm drain nearby flowed into the waters around the club, leaving a stench. Keith Mutch, the club’s manager, said the dumping ruined the opening regatta of the season on Friday and threatened the reputation of the club.

There were more than 200 people here and I got complaints all day about the stench,” he said. “It smelt of raw sewage. In the middle of the afternoon it flowed out of the storm water drain at the bottom of the pier.“The water had a big dark brown slick of water in it that smelt very bad.” The waste has also now washed onto a nearby public beach and the water has made several people sick. They have complained of skin rashes, ear infections and diarrhoea.

One member who used to swim here all the time has stopped because he has got several ear infections from the contaminated water,” said Mr Mutch.The problem has blighted the coast for three months but has dramatically increased this week, said Mr Mutch. “It pours in every day. We do not know where it originating from but it is seriously affecting the club and its members.” One of the members, who did not wish to be named, said: “It is only a matter of time before people get cholera or typhoid from the water. I can’t risk my daughter getting anything like that. People using the beach next to the club have no idea.”

Those on the public beach were equally upset. “I have just taken a swim,” said Claudia Kemfert from Germany. “I never expected to see something like raw sewage in the water. The quality of the beaches has deteriorated since I got here two years ago but this is horrible.” Ahmed Rashid decided against bathing with his seven-year-old son. “I don’t believe it,” he said, peering at the dark brown slick. “I am not going to get into the water. Imagine what my son could catch.” He then left.
Abdul Majeed, director of Dubai Municipality’s drainage and irrigation network, said he was ordering more spot checks to catch the dumpers, but the effort was being hampered by the complexity of the problem.Around 7,000 manholes feed into Dubai’s storm drainage system, with water exiting from four points along the coastline. Haulers dump their load into the system to avoid waiting in long lines at the city’s sewage treatment facilities.

“We try to catch them but they do it at 3am or 4am – we do not have full teams to cover night shifts,” Mr Majeed said.The Dubai Offshore Sailing Club has more than 600 members, with more than 200 on the waiting list.Independent tests on the pollution have been carried out by the club and the results are now in the hands of the municipality. The club says it hopes to replace polluted sand that has turned a dark brown. It must also send clean water samples to the RYA’s headquarters in the UK before it regains its certificate to teach.

However, Mr Mutch said the efforts could prove fruitless: “It’s a catch-22 situation for us. I want to replace the sand now but we do not know when the sewage will be stopped.”


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Political crisis or falling demand could kill market – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 16, 2008

Political crisis or falling demand could kill market – The National Newspaper:

Mahmoud Habboush
Last Updated: September 15. 2008 5:05PM UAE / GMT
Abu Dhabi//

An Arab League official warned yesterday that the Gulf region could face a property market crash if the area were struck by a political crisis or the demand on houses dropped drastically.

Refat al Faouri, director of Arab League’s Arab Administrative Development Organisation (AADO) said: “A mortgage crisis can happen here in two cases.
One if supply exceeds demand.
Two, if a political and military problem breaks out.”

Dr Refat, however, assured investors and property owners that for now “property investment in the Gulf is moving in the right direction and that’s a natural result of stability and availability of capital.

”He made his remarks during a press conference to announce the launch of a the first Arab property and urban development conference.
It will be organised in the capital in co-ordination with Abu Dhabi’s Chamber of Commerce on October 26-28, 2008.

Dr Refat said that the region’s property market enjoyed a number of strengths that would keep the momentum of the current construction boom going. They include availability of capital, increasing population and the region’s social and political stability.
“All of these are investment attractions,” he said.Nonetheless, Dr Refat continued to say, the Arab world’s property is dogged by a number of challenges such as the lack experience in property management, insufficient legislation, inexperience in property appraisal and lack of environment friendly buildings.

With additional reporting by Omar Zaafrani

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Kippreport » Cover Story Real Estate The Work » Property market speculation: good or bad?

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 15, 2008

Kippreport » Cover Story Real Estate The Work » Property market speculation: good or bad?

September 15 , 2008

As Dubai continues to revel in its property boom, developers have begun to impose several restrictions on the resale of properties, which some believe could prove counter-productive.

Some developers restrict resale by insisting that a certain percentage of payment has to be made towards the property price before one can resell a property to a third party. This percentage varies from developer to developer and can be as high as 40 percent.

Others have introduced a minimum holding period before investors can resell the property. For example, in its recent report on the UAE property market, Merrill Lynch mentions that Trump Towers requires buyers to hold the property for at least one year before they can sell it to another buyer.

Talking to The Business Weekly, Marwan Bin Ghalaita, CEO of the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA), says that there is no harm in adding this restrictive clause in the contract between the developer and investor, as it will curb unnecessary speculation in the market.

“But this should not extend to all properties. Developments in far-off locations may need support from even speculators and this may, to a good extent, support the property market growth in such areas,” he says. “One should remember that speculation is always good for a market, especially in its initial stage and hence, restrictions need to be applied discriminately.”

But thanks to increasing speculation, many investors book property units by paying just five percent of the asking price, and later sell the units for a large margin. “This margin sometimes works out to a three-digit rate of return as the investor is able to leverage his investment enormously. This sort of flipping will certainly damage the reputation of the property market in the UAE which is still in its emerging stage,” says a property developer who has developments in Dubai and Ajman.
Many also blame the excessive ‘flipping’ on the lack of a solid regulatory framework, although the Merrill Lynch report says that authorities in the region have become more proactive in their approach to the real estate market.

In August, for example, a new law was introduced in Dubai requiring all mortgage contracts (including off-plan) to be registered with the Land Department, a move which should help to introduce more transparency to the market.

First seen on The Business Weekly.

Posted in Dubai | Comments Off on Kippreport » Cover Story Real Estate The Work » Property market speculation: good or bad?

Update : New Blogs and Massive Warnings from Dynasty Zarooni Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 15, 2008

News Blogs: 15.September 2008



original published: Dynasty Zarooni

25th August 2008

Defamatory Statements against Dynasty Zarooni

Legal Advice from Lawyer of Dynasty Zarooni

Under instructions from our client, M/s Dynasty Zarooni, we would like to inform everyone involved in maligning of our client that all the allegations / statements levelled against it and its management are baseless, unfounded and frivolous.
Each of these statements is denied vehemently. Our client is in the business of property development and, in fact, has provided such services to numerous clients of international repute and fame based around the globe. Our client is duly registered with all the concerned regulatory departments in the UAE and there are no complaints pending against it.

There is an apparent ulterior motive in these messages being posted on the web. We, accordingly, refute all the statements so posted and inform the person(s) responsible to refrain from this conduct.

This statement on behalf of our client is without prejudice to the rights our client has against such false and defamatory statements. We, hence, direct that these statements be removed immediately and forthwith failing which our client will be constrained to take legal action, civil and criminal, under the relevant provisions of the law in the courts of competent jurisdiction.

We also reserve the right to initiate appropriate legal action against, inter alia, the web site hosts, administrators, forum moderators, web masters etc.

Original Letter RERA Dubai:

We, the Real Estate Regulatory Agency, hereby confirm that M/s Dynasty Al Zarooni Real Estate LLC is a licensed entity from the Department of Economic Development holding License number 597065 and that it does not hold or have any existing or pending complaints or penalties relating to its registration with the Real Estate Brokers and Development Registrar to date, 25 August 2008. This certificate was issued upon the company’s request and the authority shall not bear any responsibility.


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Istithmar suspends two executives – The National Newspaper

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 15, 2008

Istithmar suspends two executives – The National Newspaper:

Tom Ashby
Last Updated: September 14. 2008 3:09PM UAE / September 14. 2008 11:09AM GMT

Istithmar World, the investment company owned by the Dubai Government through Dubai World, has suspended two of its most senior executives who have been arrested as part of a corruption inquiry by the Dubai authorities.“In light of the ongoing investigations of Adel al Shirawi and Feras Kalthoum in relation to activities during their previous positions at another company, Istithmar World confirms that Adel al Shirawi has been suspended from the position of vice chairman of Istithmar World and Feras Kalthoum has been suspended from the position of chief financial officer of Istithmar World,” the company said.

It added that Mr Shirawi was no longer a member of the board of directors.Both of the Istithmar executives formerly held positions in Tamweel, whose deputy chief executive, Abdullah Nasser Abdullah, was detained last week. Mr Shirawi is the former chief executive of Tamweel and Mr Kalthoum was Tamweel’s former head of finance.

The Dubai Government has acknowledged that it is involved in wide-ranging attempts to eliminate corruption in the property and banking sectors to shore up investor confidence. Seven senior businessmen, including one chief executive, have been arrested since the investigation began in March, but no one has yet been charged.

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Gulfnews: Dubailand Plantation investors will get compensation – Rera Dubai

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 13, 2008

Gulf News Report
Published: September 12, 2008, 22:59

Dubai: Dubai’s Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) has said that people who have invested in the Plantation Equestrian and Polo Club, the troubled development in Dubailand, will be compensated after land for the project was repossessed by Dubai Islamic Bank (DIB) over payment default by the project’s developer.

Marwan Bin Ghalita, CEO of Rera, has asked investors to approach DIB with documents proving their ownership.

DIB said in a statement on Thursday that it had “assumed ownership of the land which is the site for a premium property development project known as Plantation project.”

The Plantation was the collateral for a loan provided by the bank.

“The rights of all investors are 100 per cent guaranteed,” a local Arabic daily quoted Bin Ghalita as saying.

Bin Ghalita said a dispute had broken out between DIB and Plantation’s developer over the plot’s development shortly after they had reached a deal and sold some units.

According to reports, Plantation owner Arthur Fitzwilliam is among several people in police custody in connection with a corruption investigation.

Others being held include Omair Mooraj, the Middle East head of Islamic banking at JPMorgan Chase and a former employee of DIB and Charles Ridley, a Bahrain-based British banker.

When launched in 2004, the $3.5-billion Plantation Equestrian and Polo Club promised air-conditioned stables for 800 horses.

Read more: ArabianBusiness


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Gulfnews: Burj Al Arab should have protected son, parents say

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 12, 2008

Gulfnews: Burj Al Arab should have protected son, parents say

By Bassam Za’za’, Senior ReporterPublished: September 12, 2008, 00:30


The family of a jeweller who was killed in a fight at Burj Al Arab in 2006, is suing the hotel for failing to save their son due to negligence.

The Dubai Civil Court is studying the lawsuit filed by the parents of Syrian jeweller R.A.S. who claimed that proper care could have saved his life, Gulf News as learnt.
The jeweller was 31 when he died.

Dubai Police earlier said R.A.S. died in a fight in a room at the Burj Al Arab where he and his 30-year-old compatriot, A.J.N., had gone to sell diamonds worth $255,000 (Dh935,850) to a group of Russian businessmen.

The victim’s successors, his father and mother, claimed in their lawsuit that a Kazakh woman, Z., and a European man, A.L., escorted their son and A.J.N. to the hotel to sell some diamonds to a Russian group on September 26, 2006.

The claimants alleged that a Russian man, M., who had rented a room in the hotel, received R.A.S., A.J.N. and their escorts. Two other men were also present in the room.

The claimants said in their lawsuit it was strange that M. received the victim in a room – that had five persons – and not at the high-security hotel lobby.

The security personnel and members of the hotel staff should have rendered proper help and assistance to their son, the father and mother alleged in their lawsuit.

They also claimed that M. had paid around $300 (about Dh1,100) and deposited a photocopy of his passport with the hotel staff when he checked in. “An elite hotel with high international standards should have accepted an original identity from M. and should have charged him more for the room.”
‘Proper compensation’

“His death has brought us financial and moral loss. He used to be the family’s sole breadwinner. But for the hotel staff’s negligence and lack of promptness in carrying out their job properly, our son could have been alive. We leave it to the court to decide on the proper compensation amount for our loss,” the claimant’s said in their lawsuit.

During Wednesday’s hearing, the Dubai Civil Court ordered the claimants to submit proper documentation to prove they were the successors of R.A.S. The court adjourned the proceedings till October 5.

Burj Al Arab’s legal representatives are expected to submit their legal response to the case soon.

Dubai Public Prosecution had earlier discharged a Kazakh woman and a Russian man of being involved in R.A.S.’s murder for lack of corroborative evidence.

The culprits are still at large.

read also Archive 2006:
Report 2006 GulfNews:

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Gulfnews: Pentagon notifies Congress of $7b defence deal with UAE – Sent Using Google Toolbar

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 12, 2008

Gulfnews: Pentagon notifies Congress of $7b defence deal with UAE

Gulf News Report
Published: September 12, 2008, 00:30

Dubai: The US Defence Department has proposed the sale of an advanced US missile defence system valued at up to $7 billion (about Dh25.7 billion) to the UAE, the Pentagon said in a statement released on Thursday.

Gulf News has learnt that the deal has been under discussion between the UAE and the United States for the past several years and has nothing to do with recent developments in the region.

The Pentagon’s Missile Defence Agency said in a proposal letter sent on Monday to Congressional committees that it wants to sell the Terminal High Altitude Area Defence system, also known as THAAD, to the UAE, according to Reuters.

The missile shield, built by Lockheed Martin Corp with a system radar from Raytheon Co, is designed to shoot down incoming missiles in their final stage as they fall toward targets.

It is part of a planned US missile defence shield in a network that includes a variety of ground-based, ship-based and airborne missiles and tools.

Under the proposal, UAE would buy equipment that includes three THAAD fire units, 147 missiles, nine launchers and four radar sets. Gulf News has also learnt that the deal will be under review for 28 days.

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Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum – Dubai – A leader par excellence

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 10, 2008

original published GulfNews 10. September 2008

A strong humanitarian side should be the main distinguishing quality of every leader, especially in this age of globalisation when a human being cannot be isolated from one another, and one has to interact with everyone at all times.

Real leadership is not confined to geographical or regional boundaries, but it always seeks to encompass a wider horizon and tries to reach out to humanity in general.

It is always looking for solutions to alleviate the sufferings of human beings by trying to understand their concerns and by offering help, irrespective of their ethnic, national or geographical backgrounds.

A leader who has a humane attribute and respects human values of all peoples, near or far, is worthy of leadership and responsibility, and it does not matter where such a leader is from.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, is an excellent role model in leadership. His qualities are admired and followed around the world.

Shaikh Mohammad’s leadership and generosity are not only confined to the development of his surroundings, but they reach out to many parts of the world. His reputation as a just and progressive ruler is a testimony to his brilliant leadership.

In the UAE, Shaikh Mohammad is laying the foundation for a modern society where social solidarity is the ultimate target. In this society, class, rank and any other factor that may pose a hurdle in the civil and social development of the citizens are eliminated. Moreover, everyone with the required capabilities is given an opportunity to succeed.

Mistakes can happen, but they are learning experiences on the way to excellence. Those who work hard and have good intentions are rewarded, even if they make mistakes.
Shaikh Mohammad also took steps to make the demographic constituents of the UAE society a part of the country’s civil society, which mirrors the civilised side of the UAE in general and Dubai in particular.

This has helped Dubai to become one of the world’s leading financial, economic and shopping hubs. So much so that many multinational corporations have set up their regional headquarters in the emirate. Here, they feel safe and protected from any mistreatment that violates the general laws of any civilised country.

Another trademark of Shaikh Mohammad’s leadership is his determination to achieve social justice and equality for all people in the eyes of the law and government.

It is not unusual now to hear of action being taken against those who had felt that they were immune to questioning because of their status or position.

Those who misuse their positions may feel safe for a while, but the alert monitoring authorities, which are supervised by Shaikh Mohammad, are always ready to curb any violations.

As long as the leadership’s eyes are open, and there is a strong will to take action, any negative aspects will disappear soon. Social justice is the cornerstone of any ongoing development. Moreover, the lack of social justice or the absence of a monitoring authority to enforce it will slow down the march to development, and in extreme cases, even stop it completely.
What makes us feel optimistic and pray for the success of Shaikh Mohammad’s endeavours is that he does not confine his work to his surroundings, but always extends a helping hand to the entire world.
Global initiative

Dubai Cares was Shaikh Mohammad’s first global initiative, which is aimed at fighting poverty with education, especially in developing countries, where illiteracy is very high. Other countries too are following his lead in spreading education to poor societies. Around four million children worldwide are the beneficiaries of the Dubai Cares initiative. There is no doubt that education and awareness will make a big difference in the lives of these people and their societies.

The second major humanitarian initiative of Shaikh Mohammad, which was announced last week, is another major step meant to help many people across the world. Noor Dubai aims to provide treatment to over one million blind people, or those threatened by blindness.
Such humanitarian projects deserve a lot of praise, not only for the service that they provide, but because they activate humanitarian sentiments to react and work for the best of mankind.
Abdul Gaffar Hussain is a UAE researcher and writer.

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‘Marry me for $50m or you’re dead’ The Case Suzanne Tamim

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 10, 2008

original published:
08 September 2008
The husband of a pop diva found stabbed to death claims London police failed to act
The husband of a murdered pop diva has spoken for the first time of how she feared she would be killed by a professional hitman, allegedly hired by her former lover.
Riyadh Alazzawi has told The Sunday Times that police in London were warned of the threats to his wife, Suzanne Tamim, but failed to act. The couple spent 18 months in London living in fear.
“I was there to protect her, but was doing it all by myself,” claimed Alazzawi. “I didn’t get any help.” He said his wife’s former lover had offered Tamim $50m (about £28m) to lure her away and threatened to pay $1m to have her killed if she refused.
Alazzawi met Tamim, a beautiful Lebanese singer, in Harrods two years ago. She was already receiving some threats to her life and he, a world kickboxing champion, had offered to help protect her. The couple became close and married last year.
Six weeks ago, however, Tamim was murdered while on a visit to Dubai: she suffered multiple stab wounds and had her throat slit. Prosecutors have charged a prominent Egyptian MP and business tycoon with arranging to pay a hitman £1m to travel to Dubai and kill her. Both men may face the death penalty if convicted.
The case has caused a sensation in the Arab media with its insight into the world of Middle Eastern celebrity, power, intrigue and revenge.
This weekend Alazzawi revealed how he and Tamim were routinely followed, harassed and subjected to a series of telephone threats while living in London. He believed the threats came from the Egyptian tycoon Hisham Talaat Mustafa, who had previously had an affair with Tamim, and men who said they were acting on Talaat’s behalf.
“Suzanne told me that he had phoned her and said that if she left me and went to marry him he would pay her $50m. He then said that if she refused he would then kill her with $1m,” said Alazzawi.
On another occasion, Alazzawi alleged that Talaat had phoned him at the couple’s flat in Knightsbridge. “He said forget about this girl. I’ll kill her and kill you if you don’t give me the girl.” Later Alazzawi claimed he was telephoned by a man who said he had been sent to Britain by Talaat to shoot him.
In a statement to his lawyer, Shahrokh Mireskandari, made five months before Tamim’s murder, Alazzawi said: “The hitman explained he had been sent to this country especially to kill [me]. He said he was not on his own but part of a big team of people working on this.
“The hitman explained that the only reason he was doing this job was because he had been paid £50,000 already and would be paid more money after the shooting.” The alleged assassin said he had tipped off Alazzawi because he had decided not to carry out the murder.
According to Alazzawi, the couple reported these threats to the Metropolitan police. They provided officers with a tape recording of several of the telephone threats, including one from the alleged hitman.
Officers arranged for them to have a panic alarm installed, and told them to keep in regular touch. But otherwise, Alazzawi claimed, they failed to act decisively on the information by warning off Talaat.
“Suzanne went to see the police officer dealing with the case,” said Alazzawi. “She told her: ‘Today I’m alive, tomorrow I may be dead. Why can’t you help me?’ The officer responded by stating that Talaat was a senior government figure in Egypt.”
Tamim rose to fame after winning a talent competition in Lebanon in 1996. Her career, which included several successful albums, was later overshadowed by a troubled private life that included two divorces.
She had an affair with Talaat but moved to London after the couple went through a bitter separation. Talaat tried unsuccessfully to sue her in a Geneva court earlier this year for the return of millions of pounds worth of cash and gifts he claimed to have given her.
On July 28 she was found dead at the age of 30 at the luxury apartment she owned with Alazzawi in Dubai. She had multiple stab wounds and an 8in slash across her throat which almost decapitated her.
According to the indictment by the Egyptian public prosecutor, a former police officer, Muhsen el-Sukkari, killed Tamim after tricking her into opening the front door by posing as a representative of the building’s owners. “He then laid into her with the knife . . . cutting her main arteries and her trachea.”
Dubai investigators say that after the attack, el-Sukkari dumped the overalls and cap he had been wearing in a rubbish bin outside the building. They were found by police and tested for DNA. Police say the alleged killer’s face also appeared on security camera footage.
The indictment alleges the murder “was on the instigation of the second defendant [Talaat] in return for obtaining from him the sum of $2m for committing this crime”.
It states that Talaat “took part through incitement, agreement and assistance with the first defendant in killing the victim in revenge”.
The high-profile murder was an embarrassment for the Dubai authorities, who have been trying to clean up their country’s image to attract western businesses. The emirate has recently cracked down on tourists going topless on beaches and launched a public anti-corruption campaign.
El-Sukkari was arrested on August 6 in Egypt. Tapes of alleged phone conversations kept by el-Sukkari and seized by police led them to Talaat.
In one, a man said to be Talaat says: “The agreed amount is ready.” He tells el-Sukkari: “Tomorrow she is in London, you should act.”
In a later tape, el-Sukkari explains he missed his chance in London and “will wait to move it to Dubai”. Talaat allegedly chides him and says: “Okay, let’s finish with this.”
Prosecutors said that el- Sukkari then followed her from London to Dubai, where he bought a knife to kill her.
Talaat has denied any part in the murder and his lawyers say they will challenge the tapes.
Egyptian media reports have said that el-Sukkari worked as a security officer at the Four Seasons hotel in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh, built by the Talaat Mustafa Group, which is owned by Talaat.
The company specialises in luxury hotels and beach resorts and has been a leading force in building western-style suburbs ringing Cairo. Prosecutors say that el-Sukkari confessed to his involvement soon after he was arrested and implicated Talaat in the crime.
As well as being one of the country’s wealthiest businessmen, Talaat has immense political
influence. He is a stalwart of the ruling National Democratic party and a member of the Shura Council, the country’s upper house of parliament. He is said to be close to President Hosni Mubarak’s son and heir apparent, Gamal.
When his name surfaced in the Egyptian media as a suspect, Talaat denied any involvement. But he was stripped of his parliamentary immunity, arrested and charged last week after the Dubai police handed over their file on the case to the authorities in Cairo. Shares in his company fell 16% on reports of the indictment.
A spokesman for Scotland Yard said allegations it had received were investigated, and no criminal offence within its jurisdiction had emerged. Alazzawi said detectives had recently taken a statement. “They told me the murder had happened abroad,” he said. “But this case began in London.”
He is distraught about his wife’s death. “I’m angry that I lost her. I was there to protect her but I was doing it all by myself. I didn’t get any help from anybody. I did my best. But for five days she went to Dubai without me and look what happened.”
By David Leppard
© The Times News Service 2008

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Headline Gulf News – Corporate corruption probe widens

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 10, 2008

dubai Housing mortgage company Tamweel on Tuesday found itself facing more scrutiny as it acknowledged that deputy group chief executive Abdullah Nasser Abdullah has been arrested by Dubai police in a corruption investigation.

Abdullah, who is also chief executive officer of Tamweel Properties & Investments LLC, a fully-owned Tamweel PJSC subsidiary focused on real estate investment and brokerage services, becomes the third official with Tamweel connections whose case has become public.
Last month police arrested Adel Al Shirawi, Tamweel’s former chief executive, and the company’s former head of investments, Feras Kalthoum, over financial embezzlement. Tamweel told the Dubai Financial market, where its shares are traded, that Abdullah “has been detained for questioning by Dubai government authorities in connection with an ongoing investigation.”

Tamweel did not provide information of the investigation saying it could “jeopardise” the ongoing case. Abdullah was arrested nearly a week ago over alleged swindling of money, Dubai Public Prosecution sources told Gulf News. “He has been detained since last week and is being questioned over alleged financial irregularities. He is facing alleged charges of embezzlement, swindling of money and of conning people,” said the source.

Sources close to the investigation said that one of the suspects who was arrested earlier in the same case reportedly accused Abdullah of being involved in the financial irregularities. It is alleged that his case involves between Dh40 million and Dh140 million. However, this information could not be confirmed by the Public Prosecution or police.

The news of arrest on Tuesday sent Tamweel’s shares lower. The stock closed 4.06 per cent down at Dh5.20.
The latest arrest highlights widening investigations into corporate corruption in Dubai’s booming real estate and financial sectors.

The Dubai government reiterated recently that it has zero tolerance towards corruption in the public and private sectors.

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Dubai Property court to hear 500 cases

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 9, 2008

original published: EmiratesBusiness
09. September 2008
Property cases that were originally submitted to the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) and Dubai Courts are to be passed on to the Property Court when it starts sitting in the first week of October.
Around 500 pending cases will be considered by the new specialist court, Dubai Courts’ Chief Judge told Emirates Business in an exclusive interview.
The new court was set up under the First Instance Court to deal exclusively with property-related cases.
It will initially have 10 judges, and more could be appointed depending on the workload.Consulting judges, who must have worked in Dubai Courts for more than 20 years, have been appointed and are currently undergoing training with Rera about the real estate market in Dubai.”
The Property Court will follow the civil law and hence will only try cases pertaining to commercial issues such as cheque and loan defaults,” said Chief Judge Mohammed Yousuf A Sulaiman, who is Deputy Director of Dubai Courts and the Cassation Court’s Senior Judge.”The real law for the Property Court will be the agreement binding two parties in a civil case. The Property Court will rule in favour of the party that has not breached the agreement.”
There will be no punishments under the Property Court since it operates under the civil code law, only compensation to be paid by the defaulter.
Punishments are handed down only by the Criminal Court.
In the case of a dispute between two parties who are bound by an agreement, the ruling will favour the party obeying the agreement.
People in the realty market have to be sure of what they sign and what an agreement entails. We do not let off people who say they don’t understand the law.”
Judge Sulaiman said the cases involving the arrests of individuals with links to leading property companies in Dubai were still being investigated by prosecutors in the Public Prosecution Court.
Any trials arising from the arrests would be heard in the Criminal Court and not the Property Court.

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First Real Estate GmbH Dubai Immobilienfonds

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 8, 2008

original published:


Freitag, August 29, 2008
First Real Estate GmbH/ Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds: Verantwortliche zu Schadensersatz verurteilt!
BSZ® e.V. e.V.-Vertrauensanwälte erstreiten erste Urteile auf Rückabwicklung in Deutschland gegen „Hintermann“ und „Strohfrau“ der insolventen FRE GmbH. Auch Verantwortliche des noch tätigen Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds zu Schadensersatz verurteilt. Anleger müssen handeln!

In Sachen First Real Estate Grundbesitz GmbH zeichnet sich immer öfter ab, dass Gerichte die Verantwortlichen der Firma, den „Hintermann“ Michael Böhle, und die offizielle Geschäftsführerin und „Strohfrau“ Anna Cmok, zu Schadensersatz verurteilen.

So hat das Landgericht Düsseldorf in mehreren von den BSZ® e.V.-Vertrauensanwälten geführten Verfahren beide Beklagte eindeutig zum Schadensersatz gegenüber den Anlegern verurteilt, (z.B. Az.: 6 O 394/07, Urteil vom 08.08.07, noch nicht rechtskräftig, Az. 15 O 312/07 vom 20.06.08, noch nicht rechtskräftig, Az.: 3 O 269/07 vom 3.4.2008, noch nicht rechtskräftig) teilweise mit der Begründung, dass ein Fall der vorsätzlichen sittenwidrigen Schädigung gem. § 826 BGB vorliegen würde, teilweise wurde auch ein Fall von Kapitalanlagebetrug angenommen. Zwar sind sämtliche Urteile noch nicht rechtskräftig, und Frau Cmok und Herr Böhle sind auch in einigen Fällen bereits in Berufung gegangen, BSZ® e.V.-Vertrauensanwalt Dr. Walter Späth von der Berliner Kanzlei Dres. Rohde & Späth, der mehrere der Urteile erstritten hat, ist „jedoch zuversichtlich, dass die für die Anleger positiven Entscheidungen auch in den Berufungsverfahren aufrecht erhalten werden können.“

Der „Hintermann“ Michael Böhle, der kurzzeitig auf der Flucht – oder, wie sich sein Prozessbevollmächtigter in einigen Verhandlungen auszudrücken pflegte, „im verlängerten Urlaub“ in Dubai befand, konnte mittlerweile auch von Zielfahndern des BKA in einem Hotel in Kiew festgenommen werden und soll inzwischen nach Deutschland ausgeliefert worden sein, unter Umständen ergeben sich hierbei Anhaltspunkte für die Vermögenswerte des Beklagten Böhle. Insbesondere rechtsschutzversicherte Anleger sollten daher klären, ob ein Vorgehen gegen die Verantwortlichen Sinn macht.

In Sachen Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds GmbH & Co.KG wurden inzwischen vom Landgericht Düsseldorf in einem ersten Verfahren (Az.: 15 O 400/07, Urteil vom 27.06.2008- noch nicht rechtskräftig) die dortigen Verantwortlichen ebenfalls zur Rückzahlung in voller Höhe verurteilt, Zug um Zug gegen Übertragung des Kommanditanteils, und zwar einerseits die Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds GmbH & Co.KG, andererseits Frau Ilona Müller persönlich, die Geschäftsführerin der Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds GmbH & Co. KG, und auch Michael Böhle persönlich, der auch, nach Ansicht mehrerer Kammern des Landgerichts Düsseldorf, der Hintermann der FRE GmbH war.

Der BSZ® e.V. hat bereits letztes Jahr, kurz nach der Insolvenz der FRE GmbH, als erster Anlegerschutzverein auf erhebliche Querverbindungen zwischen dem Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds und der insolventen FRE GmbH hingewiesen.
Das Landgericht Düsseldorf sah es in seinem Urteil vom 27.06.2008 genauso, so führt das LG Düsseldorf wörtlich aus:
„Ein Prospekt muss jedoch über sämtliche Umstände, die für die Anlageentscheidung von Bedeutung sind, richtig und vollständig informieren…. Über die Tatsache, dass gegen die Initiatoren eines geschlossenen Fonds ein strafrechtliches Ermittlungsverfahren eingeleitet wurde, ist selbst dann im Prospekt zu informieren, wenn die Ermittlungen im Zusammenhang mit einer anderen Kapitalanlage einer Vorgängergesellschaft mit ähnlicher Konzeption und denselben dahinter stehenden natürlichen Personen stehen…
Die Klägerin ist im Wege des Schadensersatzes so zu stellen, wie sie stünde, wenn sie der Beklagten zu 1) nicht beigetreten wäre und die Einlage nicht geleistet hätte…

Gegen die Beklagte zu 2) (Anm.: die Beklagte Ilona Müller) ergibt sich der Anspruch der Klägerin aus § 826 BGB. Als Geschäftsführerin der Komplementär-GmbH hätte die Beklagte zu 2) kraft ihrer gesellschaftsrechtlichen Stellung für eine ordnungsgemäße Aufklärung der Klägerin vor deren Beitrittserklärung Sorge tragen müssen…

Auch in Bezug auf den Beklagten zu 3) (Anm.: den Beklagten Böhle) folgt der Schadensersatzanspruch der Klägerin aus § 826 BGB. Denn nicht nur die Gründer, Initiatoren und Gestalter des Unternehmens sind für die Richtigkeit und Vollständigkeit des Prospekts verantwortlich, sondern auch solche „Hintermänner“, die hinter dem Unternehmen stehen und auf das Geschäftsgebaren oder die Gestaltung des konkreten Modells entscheidenden Einfluss ausüben. … Denn er (Anm.: der Beklagte Böhle) war jedenfalls der hinter der Gründungsgesellschafterin stehende Verantwortliche… Dass der Beklagte zu 3) keinerlei Einfluss auf die Beklagte zu 1) gehabt haben will, steht nicht nur im Widerspruch zu den von den Klägern zur Akte gereichten Visitenkarten, die den Beklagten zu 3) als „Senior Consultant“ sowohl der Beklagten zu 1) als auch der West-Treu Consulting GmbH ausweisen…“ (Urteil 15 O 400/07 vom 27.06.08, S. 2-noch nicht rechtskräftig).

BSZ® e.V.-Vertrauensanwalt Werner Albers, der das Urteil erstritten hat, erklärt dazu, „dass das Gericht unserer Ansicht gefolgt ist, dass der „Hintermann“ der insolventen First Real Estate Grundbesitz GmbH auch bei der Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds GmbH & Co.KG eine nicht unerhebliche Rolle gespielt haben dürfte, weshalb auch er persönlich zum Schadenersatz verurteilt wurde.“

Die BSZ® e.V.-Vertrauensanwälte sehen daher auch dringenden Handlungsbedarf für die Anleger der Dubai Invest Immobilienfonds GmbH & Co.KG, da diese auch nach Ansicht der 15. Zivilkammer Landgerichts Düsseldorf nicht ordnungsgemäß über die Beteiligung aufgeklärt wurden.

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Huge Delay – DMCCA – Jumeirah Lake Towers master developer encounters some ground realities

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 8, 2008

JLT master developer encounters some ground realities
By Nicole Walter, Senior Features Writer

original Published:


Caught between a ‘lake’ and a hard place is DMCCA, the master developer of Jumeirah Lakes Towers. It is a situation that DMCC is trying to get out off as it tries to find enough space available for construction activity to take place, but without hampering the movements of those residents at the completed towers.

“Any time you mix construction traffic with personal traffic it’s a challenge,” states Bryan Wilson, DMCC’s Executive Director Property Development. “It’s great to be the first person in, but means a lot of time having to compromise on living conditions until construction is completed.”

DMCC had earlier allowed construction vehicles access to the sites where the four ‘lakes’ would be as a way of keeping them off the roads and clogging up traffic. But now, they are driving on the boundary roads.

“Maybe with a different master-plan you could have done something different, but we have the lakes in the middle,” adds Wilson. “The owners feel it is time to focus on the landscaping as people have moved in — so we had to move people out of the lakes.”

This has increased the chance of residents crossing paths with construction vehicles. “We’ve assessed the situation after hearing some complaints and decided to put in temporary lighting to make it safer, as safety is our number one priority for construction workers and residents,” Wilson comments.
The four lakes
There are four lakes in JLT: Almas East & West, Elucio and Allure, each supplied by seawater via a sophisticated circulation system. The Elucio will be completed by year-end.

JLT towers come in trios set around the lakes. “We need a cluster of three to be out of the ground to a certain extent to begin the work around them,” Wilson informs. “The closing of the landscaping tender package is imminent and what follows will change the feel and look of JLT from a construction site to actually becoming a liveable community.

“There are 14 towers with approval at different stages of occupation. We’re now transitioning from around half a construction site and a quarter community to a community by end 2010 when all towers are completed.”

There are to be 79 towers in JLT proper and another eight on its embankment. Master planned by Nakheel and taken over by DMCC two-and-a-half years ago, JLT’s completion cannot come fast enough as far as Ahmed Bin Sulayem, DMCC’s Executive Chairman, is concerned.

“Completion within three years would have been the best scenario for me but each developer faces his own challenges in the construction market,” Bin Sulayem notes. “They may have several towers in JLT that they have to manage, so we are putting pressure on them to complete construction as soon as possible.

“We get all kinds of excuses and I can’t accept them, especially that we have now moved into our building (Almas). JLT is a prime location, they are not going to find another plot on Shaikh Zayed Road within the next six years — this is the heart of New Dubai where everyone wants to be.”

Infrastructure issues

Half of the roads circling Jumeirah Lakes Towers are part of the western-perimeter network project, which is undertaken by the RTA.

“That’s out of our control, they have awarded the contract but have one-and-a-half years to finish the roads,” says Bryan Wilson of DMCC. “We can’t wait for them to finish, so we put up our own temporary measures in the interim.”

As regards Internet connectivity for the cluster’s residents, DMCC is intent on offering residents a choice, a first in Dubai. “I want practicality for our end-users. I believe that is what Dubai, like Palm Deira is also looking at,” says Ahmed Bin Sulayem. “They manage in other countries, so there is no reason why they can’t manage here.”

Du was supposed to be the sole provider. “We have Etisalat and Du now in one room pressuring them to execute and agreement to share the infrastructure within JLT,” affirms Wilson.

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Dubai Rera and Emcredit to profile realty buyers

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 7, 2008

Rera and Emcredit to profile realty buyers    original published emiratesBusiness 24-7

A new financial product to share information about individual real estate buyers with sellers in the country’s property market is being developed by the Real Estate Regulatory Agency (Rera) and the UAE’s credit bureau Emcredit.

Under the system, called “Property Profile Solution”, the credit history and credit worthiness of buyers will be available to real estate and property companies to enable them to make sounder financial decisions about how and whom to sell. Emcredit will gather information about a buyer from his/her home country and will be in touch with other credit bureaus worldwide for this purpose.

The information thus gathered will be restricted and not available in the public domain, said Zaid Kamhawi, Chief Business Officer of Emcredit. “We are still waiting for a federal law to be passed regarding this matter. We hope it will be passed by the end of this year. Right now it is under review,” he said.

According to Emcredit, the Property Profile Solution will be provided to the real estate market through real estate agencies, mortgage providers, conveyors, evaluators and other realty industry players. “The solution will be based on Rera’s inputs which will include access to information, such as who owns a particular property, thus getting to the bottom of the information of individual property owners in Dubai,” Kamhawi said.

Rera became a member of Emcredit in April. “Rera will make sure the right information is shared. Some of that information will be important, such as a buyer’s details, but this will not be for everyone,” said Mohammed Sultan Al Thani, Assistant Director-General of the Dubai Land Department.

Emcredit will ensure a balance between protecting the privacy of the individual and facilitating the flow of information. “When a lender enquires about a borrower, we will make sure we get the consent of the borrower before delivering the report,” said Kamhawi.

Emcredit is targeting the first quarter of 2009 to release the Property Profile Solution into the real estate market.

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Sold short by the developers of Dubai – The National Newspaper – Sent Using Google Toolbar

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 7, 2008

Sold short by the developers – The National Newspaper

It sounded like the kind of home most people dream about. With a private beach on the doorstep, perfectly landscaped courtyards and a choice of seven gyms, Jumeirah Beach Residences (JBR) was set to become the epitome of lavish beachside living.

Set along the north shore of Dubai Marina, and with the Palm Jumeirah close by, the 36-tower project was going to offer “a year-round beach resort lifestyle” to its anticipated population of 25,000, according to the sales pitch used to attract investors to the Dubai Properties development.

Buyers began moving in to their new homes last year and looked forward to the day when their dream would be made complete with access to their own private beach park and gym complexes. But that day never came. In June, they were horrified to learn that a significant part of that beach would be used as a car park, while only two of the seven community gyms would be built.

“This is a massive part of the lifestyle that was sold to us,” said Wassim Islam, who bought a three-bedroom apartment at JBR. “It’s changed my perception of a development from something that was desirable to something that is just a residential estate. While the value of my property has gone up, I would not be able to afford the lifestyle sold to me now.”

This is just one of countless stories that have prompted a change in the way Dubai’s property market is regulated, aimed at making sure investors get what they paid for.

Residents of JBR can at least take comfort in the fact that their homes were built and are now worth about three times the purchase price.

The same cannot be said for those who have ploughed thousands of dirhams into projects that have either been delayed or cancelled. These people were not necessarily pining for the high life. All they wanted was a home they could afford, and in a location that was likely to increase in value.

In early 2006, Lorenza Gazzola, a Dubai resident, bought an off-the-plan apartment in Dubai Lagoon, a development by Schön Properties, a Pakistani company. Attracted by the project’s location away from the hustle and bustle of central Dubai, and even more so by the price of Dh600 (US$163) per square foot, Ms Gazzola thought it would be the perfect investment. An attractive payment plan also alleviated the need for a mortgage, which few banks were offering at the time.

“When I first saw the Dubai Lagoon project, I was impressed by the number of buildings, the lagoons and the greenery. It felt like a perfect family community, with a friendly and quiet environment,” she said. “It wasn’t marketed as a luxury development, but I was happy that finally someone with a limited income like me could purchase something affordable, and without having to pay high interest rates to the bank.”

Two years on, Ms Gazzola has nothing to show for her investment. After a series of delays over the project’s design, construction finally began at the end of last year. But progress stalled in May, when the contractor ran into difficulties because of the surge in construction costs.

Pressure from angry investors and the Dubai Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera) has forced Schön to resume construction on the first two zones of the seven-zone project, while an additional contractor has been appointed to build zones three and six. Another contractor is expected to be appointed for the remaining zones and the project has now been marked for completion in 2011.

My dream of buying a home has turned into a nightmare,” Ms Gazzola said. “I was looking forward to moving in this year. I have so far spent the majority of my savings on a modest property that hasn’t yet materialised.”

Dubai is not the only emirate to have felt the brunt of property scandals.

Earlier this year Tameer Holding, a company based in Sharjah, decided to put its Dh30 billion AlSalaam City development on hold because of problems with power and water supplies.

Those who had made payments towards their property in the past three years have since been left in limbo while awaiting the development’s fate.

Although Tameer has offered them a refund with interest, or the chance to transfer their investment to another project, many are reluctant to accept.

Martin Nield, an investor from the UK, bought 10 townhouses in the project at Dh600 per sq ft. He has so far paid Dh2 million. “I don’t think it’s acceptable just to be offered your money back. Some people have been making investments for the last three years and have paid around 70 per cent,” he said. “But how long can it continue to be on hold for? The land was graded two years ago, but all that’s been built are eight show houses.”

The common thread between all of these projects is that they were launched between 2004 and 2005, a time when big project announcements were all the rage, but legal protection was limited. Risks were taken on the premise that huge returns on investment could be reaped. For some, the gamble paid off.

“Many have made huge profits on property here,” said Niall O’Toole, a partner at the law firm Clyde & Co. “But others have been naive and haven’t accurately calculated their risk.”

Dubai’s legal structure, although improving, has had to play catch-up with the market. The arrival of Rera last year came as a relief to many. All developers now have to be approved by the authority and have an escrow account, into which all money paid by investors goes and is used solely for the development’s construction.

But while Rera has instilled some confidence in the market, many of the problems faced by investors today stem from projects launched before it was set up, at a time when there was no protection via escrow accounts.

“Contractually, these investors are not without rights, but how effective are they? If the developer is broke and the contractor is broke, what can they do?” said Mr O’Toole.

But better legal remedies are on the way. Foreign investors in Dubai will now be able to take their grievances to the Property Court, which begins this month and is expected to speed up the process of hearings.

“A crucial part of the evolution of Dubai is the appreciation that property and construction breed disputes, and so there must be appropriate ways to resolve or determine those disputes,” said Nick Carnell, a partner at the law firm Kennedys.

But it’s also fundamental that the court gets off to a good start.

Without an effective means to deal with such disputes, confidence will be eroded very quickly.”

Also in the pipeline is a consumer protection law, which will better protect off-the-plan buyers from misleading marketing by developers and will make it more difficult for developers not to honour their promises.

“These changes, if introduced, will impact how developers market their projects and will hopefully assist in preventing some of the problems that have occurred recently,” said Stephen Kelly, an associate with Clyde & Co.

Still, these changes will go a long way towards avoiding the kind of problems experienced by some investors. Abu Dhabi is still a little behind Dubai in terms of getting its property law in place, although plans are in the pipeline to adopt a similar strategy to Dubai’s. “I believe the Abu Dhabi Government has hired an Australian consulting firm to help devise a Strata Law in Abu Dhabi,” said Mr O’Toole. “There is currently more protection in Dubai than the Abu Dhabi. For example, Dubai has the escrow account in place.”

Mr O’Toole said the best remedy was doing your homework before buying.

“Be careful, do your research and look at the strength of the developers. The big ones have huge asset banks, while the smaller ones are more exposed to risk. Human nature is such that we talk about learning from other people’s mistakes, but we very rarely do. This is a crazy market and I don’t think people will learn their lessons until there are major failures.


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Atlantis Dubai to rise from the ashes

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 6, 2008

In the early hours of Tuesday, Alan Leibman was sleeping soundly in one of the plush guest rooms of the landmark Atlantis The Palm hotel.

Perhaps he was dreaming of the fanfare that would surely welcome the resort as final preparations were made for its grand September 24 opening.

But what he could not have foreseen was being woken suddenly by an alarm that heralded the worst of news – fire had broken out in the hotel’s $6m (Dh22.2m) lobby roof.

Leibman, Atlantis The Palm’s manager, and more than 200 senior executives, consultants and staff were all sleeping at the hotel; each room undergoes thorough dress-rehearsal testing before the first guests arrive.

Fifteen minutes after the fire alarm went off, all personnel had been evacuated and fire crews had arrived to control what was now an inferno pumping acrid black smoke into the early morning skies over Dubai. Only a few hours later, with the flames doused, did the full horror become clear. Now, only a few days later, and the damage caused has been estimated at around $20m.

Leibman, President and Managing Director for Kerzner International, the firm behind the $1.5 billion Atlantis The Palm, told Emirates Business: “I was staying at the hotel at the time and was woken by the fire alarms at 6.45am. By 7am, everyone was out and the Dubai and Nakheel emergency services were quickly on the scene.”

“Once all staff were safe, I phoned Sol [Kerzner, CEO of Atlantis-owner Kerzner International], waking him up. He asked if any personnel had been hurt, and he said all resources would be made available to start the salvage operation.”

Yet, despite what some would consider a crippling setback to one of the grandest openings yet seen in Dubai, staff at Atlantis, Kerzner, and developer Nakheel remain determined to open to the public on schedule.

What lies ahead for Leibman and his team is a series of significant challenges to rebuild Atlantis The Palm’s lobby.

The ‘to do’ list of repairs – on top of the daunting final preparations any hotel goes undergoes – includes clearing away burnt debris, rebuilding the domed roof, cleaning damaged curtains and carpets, replacing lobby computers, pumping out water from lift shafts and scrubbing clean the hotel’s blackened exterior arches.

Once the fire was under control, Atlantis assembled its development team, headed by Jim Boocher, to assess the initial damage and agree an action plan. Leibman said it was fortunate the fire was contained within the roof and caused no structural damage.

Ninety per cent of the lobby is made of stone, so the flames only affected two major carpets, both of which have been removed for professional cleaning.

“First of all the water was pumped out of the lobby and the public spaces,” said Leibman. “Amazingly, the front desk was left perfectly intact and more importantly, the Chihuly hand-blown glass centrepiece, which was shipped to Dubai in June in 231 boxes, was also untouched.”

He denies earlier press reports that claimed the $25,000-a-night exclusive Bridge Suite – above the hotel lobby – was damaged.

Atlantis The Palm has now deployed a 1,600-strong operational workforce on site to begin the clean-up; they will work 24 hours a day until completion. Scaffolding has also been erected to enable the cleaning and re-painting of the exterior arches.

At any given time, 100 decorators will be working on the ceiling area of the lobby. Experts say that, in the days before September 24, repair teams will execute a three-phase restoration plan.

Week one’s task will be to assess and remove debris; week two will be “replace and paint”, and week three will to add the final touches to return the hotel to its earlier glory.

Industrial-strength fans are blowing day and night to dry the interior of the hotel and specialist US firm EPSCO has been flown in to rid the rooms and corridors of the carbon odour left by the fire.

One member of the on-site repair team, speaking on condition of anonymity, said: “There is more than just superficial damage, though, as there are concerns about structural elements of affected areas.

“Within the main lobby, the main culprit was the water used by fire crews, not the fire itself. As a result, elements of the ceiling will need to be stripped out.

“The water has also damaged the bottoms of doors on the ground floor, so teams are working to strip them off.”

Repair teams are also said to be drilling pilot holes in areas of the lobby to assess how extensive and how deep below the surface the water damage goes.

The domed ceiling, the worst hit area of the heavily damaged lobby, was made from a fire-retardant drywall material. When wet, this material can be almost impossible to dry out, the source said.

“The drywall ceiling is wet through and there are extensive areas that need to be replaced. This requires stripping it down and understanding the extent of the damage,” said the source.

Mivan Depa, a partnership between UK theme park and museum specialist Mivan and Dubai-based interiors contractor Depa, was reponsible for the lobby roof.

A spokesman said: “While the damage is extensive, there is no impediment to achieving our goals of opening on schedule.

“We were saddened by the damage as a result of the fire, and there are challenges to over come in the next few weeks, but we’re uplifted by the motivation of the Kerzner team to open on September 24.”

Atlantis The Palm is a joint venture by Nakheel and Kerzner Internation. It has 1,373 rooms and 166 suites.

A schedule of repairs

— Week 1: Assess and remove. An emergency command centre will mobilise teams to empty the ground floor of debris and water. Lift shafts will be pumped of water, and the sheet rock in the lobby will be scrubbed clean.

The hotel said two major water-soaked carpets had been sent away for cleaning. IT personnel will check front desk computer terminals. New computer equipment is being ordered and a specialist US firm clearing the ubiquitous smell of smoke.

— Week 2: Replace and repair. Industrial fans will continue to blow 24 hours a day to dry out the ground floor. Crews will work to reinstall all furniture, electrical wiring and fittings.

The hotel says a large majority of items were not being discarded, but cleaned and restored. Some furniture will be reordered. No new materials will be flown in for the roof repairs; resources available in Dubai will be used.

— Week 3: As opening day nears, all fixtures and fittings will be back in place and only intricate decorations will be left to repair. Construction experts say by this stage the hotel should be well on the way to full recovery. All curtains and carpets will have been cleaned and will be in the process of being relaid and rehanged.

Overall, experts say it will cost up to $20 million in restoration, replacement and labour to correct the damage at Atlantis The Palm.

Fighting hurricanes

The fire that swept through the lobby roof of the soon-to-be-opened Atlantis The Palm is nothing owner Kerzner International has not faced before.

Alan Leibman, President and Managing Director of Kerzner, said he spent 10 years fighting hurricanes at the original Atlantis, in Nassau, Bahamas, with owner Sol Kerzner.

“Sol and I, along with development manager Jim Boocher, spent years fending off the weather at our Atlantis Bahamas resort. This week is nothing we haven’t been through before.”

He said his team had been well-prepared for The Palm fire and the quick evacuation early on Tuesday had been testament to the procedures Atlantis had in place.

Just a day after the fire, Leibman said the hotel had hosted a 350-person dinner at one of Atlantis’ sixteen restaurants while reconstruction worked continued. How to prevent a similar disaster will only be discussed at an Atlantis The Palm ‘postmortem’ meeting, to take place in the near future, Leibman said. The Atlantis Bahamas is located on Paradise Island, near Nassau airport, 45 minutes’ flight from Miami, Florida.

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Western realty investors turning away from Dubai an the Gulf

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 6, 2008

Western realty investors turning away from Gulf

Western investors have cooled on Gulf property markets, leaving the scene for local billionaires at least until global credit conditions ease – or markets in the region become more open and predictable.

In Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Kuwait, it is domestic investors who are again calling the shots in real estate, now that debt-starved British and United States property buyers have refocused on other areas they see as cheaper and more competitive.

“Given current economic conditions, US and British institutions are taking a lot of convincing to splash out in the Gulf,” said Fadi Moussalli, a director in Jones Lang LaSalle’s Dubai-based International Capital Group.

“There is less enthusiasm for Gulf property because foreigners are busy dealing with crises elsewhere,” Moussalli said.

Before the credit crunch, Western property buyers were making good progress in opening up fledgling Gulf property markets. But the balance of power has shifted back to local businessmen and their wealth.

Citing data from emerging markets researcher Reidin, Jones Lang LaSalle said less than a fifth of real estate purchases in Dubai in 2008 so far were made by European or US investors.

“A lot of people are [still] looking in the Middle East but it tends to be dominated by local capital,” said Charles Graham, a principal at property fund manager Europa Capital. “There is a lot of it [local investment cash] and the return requirements are for the most part less demanding than our own,” Graham said, adding he was not tempted yet to break away from Europa’s core markets to gain a foothold in the Gulf.

Capital constraints and worries at home are not the only issues driving western investors away from the Gulf. Some believe prices in hotspots like Dubai are close to peaking after years of sky-high growth, while others feel precious capital can earn higher yields closer to home.

House prices in Dubai, which have surged almost 80 per cent since the start of 2007, were likely to fall 15 per cent after a 2009 peak as massive increase in supply overwhelms demand, a Reuters poll showed.

Others are concerned that a clutch of measures to combat property price inflation, such as rental caps, trading restrictions and proposals for a property capital gains tax have made Gulf property investment risky.

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New Property law number 13 of 2008 comes into effect this week

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 5, 2008

Dubai 04.September 2008

Law number 13 of 2008, governing off plan property sales in Dubai is set to come into effect this week.

The law will introduce a mandatory system of pre-registration for sales contracts at the emirate’s Land Department.

Any off plan sales regarding real estate units in the city that are not registered will be legally invalid.

The registration system is the next stage in the government of Dubai’s efforts to increase the levels of transparency in the local real estate market, along with the introduction of a specific arbitration agency, the Real Estate Regulatory Authority (Rera), and legislative measures such as the escrow law.

These initiatives come at a time when investor confidence in both upcoming and existing projects has been shaken following a series of scandals in the local industry.

Although the system will initially be undertaken by the Land Department, the duty will eventually pass to master developers, who will be obliged to register all purchases by sub-developers.

According to an explanatory report authored by Chloe English and Alexis Waller from legal firm Clyde & Co’s Real Estate department, the registration system is already up and running and will work in tandem with the current project registration system in place at Rera following the introduction of Law number 8, the escrow law. Law number 8 declared that all developers had to be approved by Rera and have an escrow account, which all monies from investors would be paid into and would be used solely for the construction of the development.

The system also paves the way for easing in the emirate’s Law number 14 of 2008, regarding mortgages, allowing investors to register against off plan projects.

Contract and purchase fees Developers will still be obliged to pay a fee of Dhs370 per off plan unit contract when registering their site plan.

The developer will not need to have taken possession of the land before registering off plan sales, registration of the concluded purchase agreement at the Land Department will be enough. There will also be an additional 2% registration fee, payable at the split of 1% by the seller and 1% by the buyer, on all third party sales prior to the beginning of construction.

The good news for buyers is that developers will no longer be able to charge transfer fees on off plan sales. Administrative charges will still be payable but the exact amount is currently being determined by the department. The Clyde & Co report estimates the figure at Dhs5,000 for off plan transfers and Dhs500 for completed properties.

Breach of contract ( attention buyers !!!!!!!!!)

Under the new law, if buyers default on a sales contract it becomes the developer’s responsibility to report the breach to the Land Department.
They will then issue a notice granting the buyer 30 days grace to comply with contractual obligations.
If the issue is not resolved within the period the developer can cancel the contract and return all money paid, minus 30%, which they are allowed to keep.
The new law means that the 30% is now a value of money paid by the buyer, rather than 30% of the value of the project.

In a further boost to buyers, developers will also no longer be able to claim additional money if a project is larger once completed than set out in the original contract.

If the project is smaller than specified, however, the buyer must be compensated (the size difference has yet to be specified but the report anticipates a threshold of 5% and over from the advertised area).

Restrictions on property ‘flipping’

The new law is also part of the government’s efforts to help curb the market speculation that has seen prices rise at fever pitch levels, and ensure that all transactions are monitored by the government rather than by individual companies.

Unfortunately, for many of the investors currently undergoing problematic handovers, the law will not retroactively govern projects that are already underway or completed – although all developments still in the off plan stage only have 60 days to register sale contracts with the Land Department.

Although some of Dubai’s major developers, including powerhouses Nakheel and Emaar have set their own restrictions on the resale of off plan units, placing a hold on sales until either a set period of time has elapsed or a percentage of the contractual value has been paid, the new law does not make these restrictions mandatory across the board.

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The Master of Flip – ACI – Robin Lohmann : It is simple. We develop and we flip.

Posted by 7starsdubai on September 3, 2008

original published: ArabianBusiness


Robin Lohmann is a man in a hurry. No sooner have we finished lunch then he turns to racing legend Niki Lauda for a quiet word. “I have another idea. We can discuss it after pudding is served,” says Lohmann.

The chances are it is another cracking idea – right now, Lohmann is on a roll. The boss of German-owned ACI has added spice to the UAE’s property market, by putting branded buildings onto the market. And not just any brand – in the past month, Lohmann has persuaded sporting legends Michael Schumacher, Nikki Lauda and Boris Becker to lend their names to his projects. Early next year, the Michael Schumacher Business Avenue will be launched in Dubai – hot on the heels on Niki Lauda Twin Towers and Boris Becker Tower.

“I nearly got burnt when I first started out and Niki nearly got burnt when he drove Formula One cars, so we have a lot in common,” jokes Lohmann, adding: “It is something different, something new and something that I think will make our investors a lot of money.”

His track record suggests he is more than right. In less than two years of trading in Dubai, ACI has revenues topping the billion dollar mark. So far the company has launched Victory Bay and Sami Tower in Dubai’s Business Bay, Dubai Star in Jumeirah Lake Towers and Wings of Arabia in Dubailand. With his sports-branded developments now off the mark, car-branded buildings are on the drawing board, again in new projects based mostly in Dubai.

It is simple. We develop and we flip. We make people money. There is a lot of talk about the property market not being sustainable but those people talking that way – well, they don’t know what they are talking about.

There are still millions of people forecast to move to Dubai in the coming years. They all need somewhere to live and work. Prices will keep rising and I actually think we can double our turnover next year,” says a confident Lohmann, adding: “As for the idea of branded buildings, well, again it is a simple equation. What would an investor pay more for – No.1 Business Avenue or No.1 Michael Schumacher Business Avenue?”

The real coup for German-born Lohmann has been in persuading Lauda and friends to join his property empire. Lauda’s son Lukas is a friend of Lohmann, through whom the plan for Niki Lauda Twin Towers was first pitched.

Lauda liked what he saw and very quickly signed up. “I’ve never seen anything like Dubai – the pace of development here is just amazing, and everything is so much bigger every time I come here,” says former F1 champion Lauda.

“Robin approached me with this idea and I was very impressed. The property market here is booming so it is nice to be a part of it in some way. I don’t think you can find this kind of pace and energy anywhere else in the world,” he adds.

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