Dire warnings of spooks, genies, curses and things that go bump in the night will not deter tree surgeon Ben Collins as he sets out to remove a clump of "haunted" trees that have become a legend in Dubai.

Yesterday, Collins set to work with his trusty chainsaw, cutting down other trees surrounding the fabled clump to make way for a road development. But when the time comes to attack the special trees which occupy the centre of a roundabout on the Al Ain road, it will be a different story.

Instead, these ancient gnarled Gaff trees will be respectfully dug up and carefully transplanted to Mushrif Park in Jumeirah. But brave Collins said he wouldn't be "spooked" off his job by such "Tales from the Crypt".

The quiet group of six trees on the roundabout near the Dubai Exiles Rugby Ground are fenced off from the rest of the island, but will have to be moved to make way for 10 new bridges which will be built over the junction during the next year.

Collins brushed off the supernatural rumours as "hearsay", adding that he didn't believe the stories, which claim the area is haunted by ghosts and genies and is even an ancient burial ground.

Other tales even include rumours of mysterious deaths and curses on those who have tried to cut down the trees. One woman who'd heard the ghoulish tales said, "I've always thought it sinister that the trees were fenced off and padlocked.

Once I was driving past with my husband and the gate - which is usually locked - was hanging open. It was extremely spooky and I told him to drive as quickly as he could just in case we were haunted."

Collins said, "I've asked around and heard some funny things, but I'm not going to take them seriously. I was told the fenced-off area had been a burial ground and that it was even haunted by a headless wailing camel merchant.

"There are also tales that the last contracting company which tried to cut down the trees several years ago had to give up because their blades kept bouncing off the trunks." Collins said he wasn't afraid of ghosts because the trees are going to be moved rather than cut down.

"The trees are probably around 100 years old, but they are going to be moved to Mushrif Park. They may not survive the trip, though, because it's difficult for trees of that age to be re-planted, but it's definitely worth a try."

However, a long-term resident of Dubai, who did not wish to be named, may have shed some light on the ghoulish tales. "Basically the Gaff trees are indigenous to the region and are considered to be haunted by genies. They are even featured in the first chapter of "1001 Arabian Nights."

"The scientific explanation for this is pretty interesting because apparently the Gaff trees release a lot more carbon dioxide at night than any other tree. The result is that anyone who sleeps under them would suffer from partial suffocation which could lead to hallucinations. This would certainly explain the demons and ghosts supposedly seen by those who go near them.

"A few years ago an old man also crashed his car into the trees and died. Rumour has it that in his dying breath he spoke of seeing a genie there. I've also known lots of local people who would never dream of going near the area because they believe the tales completely."

Another amateur historian dismissed the claims, saying, "I have read that certain groups of Gaff trees held special significance in olden times. "It is said that elders and wise men often told stories beneath them and imparted knowledge to the younger generation, but I certainly haven't heard of any ghostly stories."

Still unperturbed, Collins lamented: "It's just myth and legend at the end of the day and I'm not worried about these trees at all. An encounter with Monkeyman would be a lot scarier."