DUBAI: Hundreds of Palm Jumeirah residents are bracing for a possible beach access fee, even as many expressed unhappiness over the current state of the man-made beach, not far from their backyard, XPRESS has learnt.
Many residents of Shoreline Apartments — two rows of mid-rise buildings on the trunk of the iconic island — are annoyed that the free private beach access once promised so generously to them may soon be taken away.
"I'm very upset," said Anna H., a European who has lived in a rented two-bedroom unit on the designer island for the last two years. "No one here is happy about any additional cost to something promised to us for free. We're already paying a premium for living here."
A two-bedroom apartment on the exclusive development currently rents out for between Dh90,000 and Dh150,000 ($40,540), according to the Rera index, roughly double similar units in Dubai's less classy areas.
Shoreline residents get access cards from the developer Nakheel to use the beach.
Marleen, a Belgian expat, said her landlord had informed her she will soon be charged to use the beach which was free since she first moved in more than a year ago. "I can't be sure what the charges are, or will be, but the rumours I've heard point to around the Dh3,000 a year mark."
Thirty-three-year-old Russian, Ania, who lives with her family in Shoreline, says she has been told that the cost per year will vary.
"My landlord has informed us that when the charges are finalised, they may vary based on the number of bedrooms in the apartment."
Others, however, can only hope that whatever fee they end up paying will be used for the upkeep of the beach and maintaining the health club facilities.
Joe, a South African who lives on Shoreline 6, said: "This is a great place to be. We're on the beach every weekend. To be fair they [developer] had been improving the facilities, with new beach kiosks and lifeguard stations installed. The beach itself needs a bit of cleaning. And the health clubs need to be monitored properly as I've noticed that even outsiders get in and out freely and use the facilities for free."
British expat Jonathan says "not only will we be charged for using a beach, which was one of the main reasons we moved to The Palm in the first place, but apparently we will also have to pay for using the gym and swimming pool. We're informed that the entire amount will soon be revealed to us as a lump sum".
Some who had been informed by their landlords about the fee explained the logic behind the move. Carl, an Indian businessman on the Palm, said: "At the moment, our beach as well as our gym is in bad condition and based on what I've been told, the money will go towards cleaning up the beach and upgrading the gym. Not that it makes any difference to us. What's next? Are we going to be charged for using the elevators? For walking down the corridors? For having a beach view?"
Other residents seem equally disappointed with the probability of having to pay to use the beach and gym facilities.
"If we lived in lower-budget accommodation such as Discovery Garden, the building's pool would still have been free to all tenants to use. Here, we pay more, and live in this high-end development, and now we have to pay to use our own pool and walk on the beach!" says Marleen.
"This is ridiculous. I don't know for sure if or when this will be implemented, but I may have to reconsider my living options at some point if these charges are put upon us," says Ania.
A homeowner, on condition of anonymity, said that the scheme would mean that tenants pay approximately Dh5,000 to access the building's beach clubs, gym, pool and private beach, while non-residents could be charged around Dh12,000 for the same. He added that Nakheel, the developers, may cut down on annual maintenance charge for homeowners in relation to beach club maintenance.
At the time of going to press, a comment from Nakheel Asset Management was not available.