Illegal practices made deadly blaze worse

Tuesday's horrific Naif fire that claimed eleven lives has exposed a whole range of illegal practices that contributed to the serious nature of the incident, Gulf News has learnt.

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Gulf News

Dubai: Tuesday's horrific Naif fire that claimed eleven lives has exposed a whole range of illegal practices that contributed to the serious nature of the incident, Gulf News has learnt.

The fire broke out at 5am on Tuesday in a townhouse occupied by bachelors in the Naif area.

A total of 15 people were hurt in the fire, according to Dubai Police.

Click here to watch mobile phone footage of the fire

The entire second floor of the townhouse was built without approval from Dubai Municipality, a senior municipality official told Gulf News.

Omar Abdul Rahman, head of the inspection department at the municipality, said the department had been delivering warnings to the townhouse since 2006.

"The second storey was built gradually in 2006 and we had been issuing warnings and fines since then, but they simply did not care," he said, adding that the department had also sent mandatory maintenance alerts as the building was very old.

The municipality had subsequently asked the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) to cut power and water supplies to the building.

"I am not sure if Dewa cut the supplies. The building could have been operating on electricity generators," said Abdul Rahman.

There are indications that the building could have been illegally sublet a number of times, according to officials. Police found a number of electricity metres and are awaiting confirmation as to whether they were installed with the consent of authorities.

Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police's Deputy Commandant General, told Gulf News the townhouse had several rooms, each of which housed "an estimated 20 to 25 people".

He said four people were being held, including the property owner and lease holders. They will be referred to the public prosecution.

The house had partitions and police are waiting for a municipality report to confirm whether the partitions were authorised, said Al Mazeina.

Disasters become inevitable in overcrowded bachelor accommodation, said Abdul Rahman.

Venu Rajamony, Indian consul-general in Dubai, said a majority of those killed in the fire were residing in the UAE illegally.

- Additional inputs by Sunita Menon, Staff Reporter

Do you know of any similar illegal accomodations that may pose a security risk? Have you reported these accomodations to the authorities? What happened? Send us your pictures and comments at or fill in the form bellow to send your comments.

Your comments

This is very common and This kind of Shabby villas are a known phenomenon in Dubai, particularly in Deira and Rashidya.
Posted: August 28, 2008, 09:11

The government authorities, Dubai Municipality and DEWA, must be very strict in implementing the Safety Rules and Regulations, and must regularly inspect the premises to find out for any violations. The burnt bachelor accommodation in Naif is very much overcrowded, there is only one entrance/exit, and there is no provision for fire detection and fire fighting. How DEWA gave its approval of its electrical installation if the building itself is without the approval from DM?. This malpractice must be exposed during the investigation to avoid repetition of the same tragedy.
Posted: August 28, 2008, 08:30

This situation will remain and is inevitable. How would people with low salaries survive with the rent hikes? Unless the gov. issues a rule obliging employers who offer salaries less than dhs.3000 to give their employees company accommodation (the standard of which should also be specified to ensure minimum humanitarian standards) this situation will prevail. Where will people go?
Posted: August 28, 2008, 08:17

This should open the eyes of the authorities, Municipality must ensure that illegal constructions are stopped and companies provide safe and decent accommodations to the laborers. But in this part of the world labors does not have any right and they are treated like slaves.
Posted: August 28, 2008, 08:02

Overcrowding of town houses happen only because the people cannot pay the cost for a room. room rents are very high that an ordinary worker monthly earning is not enough to pay for one month room rent. company accomodation are not inspected by the government if it is suitable and acceptable. UAE government should do something for the room rents or make a memorandum to all company for a minimum HRA allowance that is enough to pay for the room rent.
Posted: August 28, 2008, 07:49

1 People living in the accomadation were illegally living in the UAE.2 The second level was built illegallyquestion was this accomadtion not behind the Naif Police station.....
Posted: August 28, 2008, 06:57