Dubai: When filmmaker Umair Tareen moved back to Pakistan after 12 years in the UAE, he hired Dubai-based moving firm Noor Al Fajar to ship his belongings to his hometown Karachi.
It was a decision he hasn’t stopped regretting.
Six months and dozens of e-mails and long distance phone calls later, he’s yet to hear back from them. Worse, the relocation firm has reportedly sold all of Tareen’s belongings.
While Dh100,000 worth of filmmaking equipment, consumer electronics and furniture were allegedly disposed of in the UAE, things like kitchen appliances, crockery and home décor were auctioned off in Karachi.
“We are devastated and that’s an understatement. Those 44 boxes had our entire life… all our belongings, our memories, our hard work, the toys my children were attached to,” said the father of four.
“For months we slept on mattresses as we waited for our shipment. My children keep asking me for everything they had. My wife is an avid collector and had painstakingly built our nest with designer furniture and expensive home décor items.
"She’s gone into depression. We enjoyed our time in the UAE but this experience has left us with a bitter taste in the mouth,” said the former Sharjah resident.
Tareen is not alone in his despair. Like him, the lives of scores of Pakistanis who used the services of Noor Al Fajar or its sister concerns have been thrown into disarray.
Among them is Syed Mohammad Anees who hired Noor Al Fajar in August to ship Dh40,000 worth of designer handbags, clothes and expensive crockery he had bought for his daughter’s wedding.
The consignment is yet to be delivered to their Karachi home.
“They have stopped taking our calls,” said the Mirdif resident who has since lodged a police complaint against the firm.
Another victim, Osayed Rehman, said his parents are still waiting for their belongings that were shipped from Sharjah to their Lahore home in August.
“Our cargo weighed 1.8 tonnes and contained two bedroom sets, LED televisions, refrigerator, dishwasher, kitchen utensils, carpets, clothes, bedding, crockery and priceless items such as old photographs and wedding albums.
“They charged us Dh10,000 for door-to-door delivery. We were told that the container has reached Karachi port and will be delivered within a week. But now we have lost all contact with Noor Al Fajar. They have stopped responding to our WhatsApp messages and their phones remain switched off,” he said.
They charged us Dh10,000 for door-to-door delivery. We were told that the container has reached Karachi port and will be delivered within a week. But now we have lost all contact with Noor Al Fajar. They have stopped responding to our WhatsApp messages and their phones remain switched off.
Sharjah resident Kashif Mirza, who moved his family to Karachi in December 2018, said he was similarly cheated by Amir Altaf Cargo run by the same Pakistani expat who owns Noor Al Fajar.
“All my electronic goods were either sold off on online platforms or in the UAE second hand market. What was left was sent to Karachi for auction. I had to pull a few strings to find my goods before they went under the hammer. But just as I had feared most items were badly damaged and many furniture pieces were missing,” recalled Mirza, who paid the relocation firm Dh11,000.
“My consignment was worth Dh60,000. Then there were things you can’t put a price tag on,” he said.
Sadaf Bilal, Raza Kazmie, Abdullah Mohammad are among many others with similar horror stories.
Victims said the relocation firm preyed largely on Pakistanis leaving the UAE for good.
“They know it’s seemingly impossible for us to initiate action against them from another country and they exploit this to the hilt,” said Abrar Hussain, who sent his household stuff to Pakistan via Noor Al Fajar in August. “Those of us who have tried to lodge a complaint have been asked to approach the courts. However, prohibitive costs deter us from taking the legal route,” said a man who estimated his losses at Dh20,000.
“It’s an elaborate network and these criminals run it like a well-oiled machine,” he added.
Explaining the modus operandi, Umair Tareen said the containers are deliberately sent in the name of people who could not be reached by port authorities in Karachi.
“It’s all part of a nefarious plan. When nobody comes forward to claim the container, the customs puts it up for auction to make room for other containers. This is when a syndicate of local businessmen who had been already tipped off by the cargo firms come into the picture and buy the goods at dirt cheap prices. The spoils are shared later,” he alleged.
Nether Noor Al Fajar nor any of its sister concerns owners could not be contacted by Gulf News despite several attempts.