Dubai: Homeowners and residents in Discovery Gardens are complaining about the increasing presence of bachelors in the Nakheel-owned residential complex close to Jebel Ali.
If the trend goes unchecked, residents fear, the sprawling 26,000-apartment complex which used to be marketed by the developer as a community living space will soon come to wear the look of a workers' accommodation.
Homeowners fear their property value will plummet if the developer does not stop the uncontrolled migration of bachelors.
Audio: Discovery Gardens residents talk to Radio 2
"Workers loitering in and around the building clusters have become a common sight in the Discovery Gardens. A lot of unwanted elements are moving in. We bought the property thinking that it is a great place for family. Now we are stuck here amidst workers and bachelors invading the family space," said Creig R., a South African computer professional who moved in three years ago. Ever since 2009, when rents fell by more than 40 per cent, he says the residential complex has lost its charm for families.
"A one bedroom apartment used to cost between Dh75,000 to 100,000, and only people of certain economic class could afford to live here. Now with apartments available for as less as Dh50,000, the property profile has changed," he said.
Many families who spoke to Gulf News said the presence of workers and bachelors has given rise to security concerns, given the poor security arrangements in buildings.
"We do not feel safe to let children play in the garden unsupervised. There is only one watchman for seven to eight buildings, and no security locks at the entrance. With all these strange men roaming around, it is not at all safe for children," said Preetham Ghosh, a resident and father of two.
"My wife is complaining that she is being stared at by a group of men who are living in the adjacent building," said Adel Hussain, an engineer from Syria. "Now she does not feel comfortable taking our kid to the bus stop in the morning as these men wait for their company transportation at the same place. We are not against bachelors or workers but Nakheel should designate a separate segment for their accommodation."
But many government and private firms see Discovery Gardens as a cheaper and better housing option for their employees ever since the rents have fallen. For instance, one company has moved in over 1,500 of their staff to Discovery Gardens since September 2009. A spokesperson for the company said they currently occupy 12 buildings, and house 1,651 staff in these buildings. The buildings were purchased by the company directly from Nakheel in the middle of last year, and occupation of the buildings commenced in September.
"Prior to the purchase, we housed our employees in different buildings in Dubai and spread over areas such as Bur Dubai, Deira and Al Ghusais. It is a great benefit for us to now have centralised the accommodation in one locality [Discovery Gardens] and that makes it easier to transport the staff to and from the work place, and also maintain the facilities," said the company's spokesperson.
The official added that the buildings were purchased for several reasons, including an attractive price, ready occupancy, community facilities, proximity to Ibn Batuta mall and the Metro, and also the availability of 15 ready buildings in one location.
Some people working for the company said they love the new place as it is more spacious and airy. "Four or five of us used to share a room in Rashidiya. Now it is two people per studio and it is very convenient. Moreover, we are able to enjoy some of the facilities like basketball and tennis courts," said a staff member who requested anonymity.
Complaints: Developer's assurance
"Nakheel adheres to all regulations with regards [to] over-crowding, safety and security at Discovery Gardens, as at all of our developments. Should any resident have a complaint, there is an established procedure to follow. This procedure is clearly stated in the common areas of the development and where a transgression has occurred we will, of course, act," a spokesperson for Nakheel said.