UAE | Housing & Property

Vue De Lac towers: Towering trouble in Dubai

Investors run up huge debts on mortgages after project suffers four-year delay

  • By Michelle Sutton, Staff reporter
  • Published: 00:00 March 31, 2011
  • XPRESS

Dark days
  • Image Credit: XPRESS/Hadrian Hernandez & Supplied
  • Dark days: Like Mariano many others have run up huge debts for the project that was scheduled for completion in 2007 (artist impression inset).

Dubai: Bank debts and stress is piling up for investors who paid millions, some their entire life savings, for property in a landmark New Dubai development that's delayed by four years.

The Real Estate Regulatory Agency (RERA) confirmed to XPRESS that it is reviewing The Vue De Lac towers - two residential towers and a business tower - at Jumeirah Lake Towers.

Shockingly, the main construction work has not begun till date despite the towers having an initial completion date of 2007.

As a result about 60 investors who paid up to Dh1.7 million for their apartments, are accumulating interest on mortgages taken out for the property.

Marriage on the rocks

Stress has been the biggest headache for Filipino expat Jimmy Mariano whose marriage almost fell apart after he invested Dh400,000 - his savings over 10 years working in Dubai - and took a Dh932,000 mortgage from Amlak Finance to pay for a two-bedroom apartment in one of the towers.

"It has almost cost my marriage. My wife was so upset that I put my life savings into this," said the middle-aged father of one who has to pay about Dh70,000 to rent accommodation until he can move into his JLT home.

Amlak documents reveal that it released Dh533,000 of Mariano's loan to the developer Al Attar Properties in 2008. However, as of date only 15 per cent of the property has been completed. Since 2008 Mariano's loan has accrued over Dh100,000 in interest.

Rera and the main developer, Dubai MCC, were currently reviewing the project, a Rera spokesperson said. They assured investors the project had an escrow account - an account overseen by the Land Department which buyers pay into for an off-plan lot. The money is released to the developer a year after all units are registered in purchasers' names. "The project is currently registered at Rera and has an escrow account, ... the investors will be provided with a detailed final completion schedule," the spokesperson said.

Al Attar declined to explain the four-year delay when contacted on Wednesday. Al Attar had told XPRESS in 2009 that investors would not be getting their money back. "We don't want a panic. If we hand the money back, the towers won't be completed," Bipin Tavarool, Project Manager for Al Attar Properties, had said in November 2009.

The main developer DMCC said 57 towers in JLT had been finished, with another 10 in the final stages.

The development of each tower in JLT came down to individual developers and was not under the control of the master developer, which sold plots to developers, a DMCC spokesman said.

Comments (4)

  1. Added 09:25 April 1, 2011

    We were one of those investors who purchased a property from Al Attar. We were the primary buyers. We had a look at the Palladium and also a lot of other towers at that time, but bought the property from Al Attar as he was a man with good social standing. We thought he would keep his word. But what happened at the end was that every other tower that we had rejected over fears of being cheated were built and the only one that faced trouble was the one offered by Al Attar, who had the clout to take our money, shoo us away and threaten that he won't return our money ever. In fact, not just that, he even said that he would decide whether to build the property or not! What you did not add in this story was the fact that some of us bought two-bedroom apartments but were informed by e-mails that we would no longer get the two-beds that we opted for and instead get just one-bedroom plus a studio. And we still were not permitted to cancel our investment. Where are the rights of the investors? Following this, we pulled out all our other investments out of this country and told at least 10 friends of ours not to invest here. If there are no laws to protect investors, then we cannot afford to invest here. The government should have handled this before.

    Dania Mirza, $comment.city, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 08:50 March 31, 2011

    I am an Amlak customer and have had a horrible time dealing with its staff. They are extremely rude, unprofessional, lack transparency in dealings and levy exuberant charges. In fact, most of Amlak’s staff members are under-qualified. I have tried many times to complain against Amlak – either with the land department and with other government institutions, but have always failed. I am shocked that despite all the progress Dubai has made, companies like Amlak are still operating. I think the company should be closed down as many people are suffering due to its ill-practices.

    Rami Abu Ghali, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 05:34 March 31, 2011

    Thanks for the great article! Some associates at Al Attar, on condition of anonymity, said the situation in the company was much worse and not just limited to “development” issues. In fact, according to them, Al Attar might just be one of the biggest frauds in the history of Dubai, encompassing money laundering by people with highly questionable backgrounds and fleecing hundreds if not thousands of innocent investors.

    Mathew, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 05:07 March 31, 2011

    It’s sad that so many of us have faced harassment at the hands of corrupt “developers” in Dubai. The UAE laws must be strengthened so that developers like Al Attar Properties cannot fleece investors. Al Attar has had a fraudulent and corrupt record. Its directors must be punished and their assets confiscated so that investors can get their money back. It’s really surprising and sad to see Al Attar Properties continuing its businesses in the UAE. After a Rera audit on Dubai’s real estate market in 2010, Rera CEO Marwan Bin Galaita had said a lot of projects will be cancelled in 2011. If what he had said is true then projects in IC Phase 3, supposedly built by Al Attar, must be cancelled immediately because nothing has started there. In such a scenario, Al Attar must refund the instalments paid by investors for project development. The only other way to punish Al Attar is to move courts, which is a costly affair. But if the court wants proof of where the instalment money has been spent, Al Attar won’t have any answer. This company has in reality used up all the money for itself instead of using it on developing the project.

    Al Attar Fraud Victim, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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