No homecoming: Cargo boxes containing belongings of former UAE residents lie abandoned outside the ReloGulf warehouse in Dubai Image Credit: XPRESS/Razmig Bedirian

Dubai: When paramedic Brian Ridley moved back to South Africa in September 2013 after 16 years in Abu Dhabi he paid Dh34,500 to UAE-based moving and storage firm ReloGulf to ship his belongings. It was a decision he has regretted ever since.

Five months and dozens of e-mails and long distance calls later, he’s still waiting.

“I am devastated. What ReloGulf has is my life, all my possessions including my Harley Davidson motorcycle, furniture, appliances, electronics, camping and sporting equipment, personal memoirs. My whole life,” he said.

Ridley is not alone in his despair. Like him, the lives of scores of former UAE residents have been thrown into disarray as their belongings haven’t reached them even after several months, despite payments made upfront.

Suspecting a scam, many ReloGulf customers are weighing legal action.

Ridley said he has already contacted a law firm in Dubai.

Ajmal from Australia, James from UK, A.H. from New Zealand, Frank from Germany are among many other former UAE residents who told XPRESS they are planning to sue ReloGulf for theft, fraud and breach of agreement.

Some logistics firms have also filed bounced cheque cases against ReloGulf, which also operates under the name of Sovereign Removals. Dubai-based Asiatic Freight Services which worked with them said the company owes them over Dh100,000 for containers to be shipped to various destinations. “We’re trying to settle the issue with them mutually,” said a staff.

ReloGulf customer Alexandra Marrion, who returned to the UK last June after a three-year teaching stint in Dubai, said she’s at her wits’ end.

“My shipment should have been dropped at my door eight months ago. I am still waiting for it.”

Her consignment included teaching notes, personal memoirs and gifts from students. “I have tried calling ReloGulf landline and mobile numbers endlessly. But I simply can’t get through.

“Repeated e-mails elicit a response barely five per cent of the time, and it’s always a fob-off. Initially, they said the shipment hadn’t left because of Ramadan. More recently, I was told that my belongings were in the UK awaiting delivery. I have repeatedly asked for the container number, vessel name, bill of lading and UK handler details so I could proceed on my own, but to no avail. ReloUk, which claims not to be affiliated to ReloGulf any longer, has told me ReloGulf owes them over £50,000 (Dh298,896) and that the case has been reported to Dubai Police. Colleagues in Dubai have visited ReloGulf’s warehouse. But it’s mostly shut. I enjoyed my time in Dubai but this debacle has left me with a bitter taste in my mouth. I am surprised such criminal operations are allowed to run without repercussion,” she said.

Seven-months pregnant Tamsin and her husband John McCann said they have been sleeping on a mattress for months as all their belongings remain undelivered to their England home.


More horror stories

More horror stories abound on the internet. One website, www.complaintsboard.com, alone lists nearly 80 personal accounts of former residents who claim they have been duped by ReloGulf. Some victims have even come up with a morphed ReloGulf website that ridicules its services.

The cellphone numbers of ReloGulf managing partners Neil Price and Phillip Davis remain switched off and the warehouse number just rings incessantly. On the odd occasion when it is picked up, the woman on the other end promises to call back. The call is never returned. ReloGulf’s warehouse at Dubai Investment Park was locked when XPRESS visited it on Tuesday. Scattered near its entrance and exposed to the vagaries of nature lay piles of decaying cargo boxes and rusty steel trunks bearing the Relo-Group logo. A quad bike and Ridley’s Harley Davidson gathered dust outside.


Relogulf response

On Wednesday afternoon, Neil Price finally responded to an XPRESS query by email. “We are aware of the current problems, we are doing all we can currently to sort issues out and satisfy all clients,” he wrote.

But customers are not convinced. Many who had to fork out thousands of dirhams to various shipping companies to get back their own goods say they will not rest until they are compensated for financial loss and mental trauma.

Victim M. Russ, for instance, wants to initiate action through international lawyers. Four of his containers were illegally sent from the UAE to Germany in 2009. The case remains unresolved. “It was a clear breach of our agreement. ReloGulf and their German cooperating company are trying to seize and sell off our illegally sent goods,” he posted on an online forum.

Another victim, Jayne Lytel from Maryland, USA, is urging people to spread the word about ReloGulf through social media.

“It’s a messy situation,” said UAE-resident Chantelle De Bruyn, who is trying to help her friend Ridley get back his belongings.

“His Harley bike is outside ReloGulf’s DIP warehouse while all his other stuff is with Orbit Shipping, a third party firm in Al Quoz. As it turns out, ReloGulf owes Orbit Dh100,000 and they won’t release anything from their warehouse until their debt is settled.”



I left Dubai in June 2013 to move home to England. ReloGulf took five boxes from me, telling me they would arrive 6-8 weeks later. I paid everything upfront, but I am yet to hear from them. They will not reply to emails, the phone just rings.

B.E., England


I have been waiting for a better part of the summer for my goods to arrive in Switzerland. They have never been shipped. Now ReloGulf’s number has gone dead.

L.M., Switzerland


Relogulf was paid Dh20,000 in March 2013 for a door-to door removal and delivery service. The removal went fine. As for the delivery I can’t comment because there has been no delivery. Our container was stuck because ReloGulf failed to pay their Dubai-based agent the freight charges for our shipment. We paid the agent Dh8,000, but couldn’t’ release the shipment as Relogulf still needed to pay for the storage charges to a third party.

S.N., UK


I paid them Dh13,000 in January 2013 to relocate my goods from Dubai to New Zealand. Twelve weeks later I paid another Dh2,000 to release my own container. But I still haven’t got my belongings.

James, New Zealand


I engaged ReloGulf nine months ago and my stuff is still with a third party as hostage.

Sara, UK


We used ReloGulf for our move from Abu Dhabi to Ireland in January 2013. The quote was Dh14,000. After we arrived in Ireland, we received an email saying that the volume of our goods was greater than the quoted amount and that the new price was Dh20,000. I argued but had no choice, so I paid the extra amount.

KMCK, Ireland


My goods have not been delivered because ReloGulf has failed to make payment to a third party. I have paid Relogulf in full and I fail to see why my goods can be held hostage because of a breach of agreement between two business partners.

Sherrine, South Africa

(Comments have been moderated)


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