Dubai: “We want our money back,” investors in a Dubai Investment Park (DIP) realty project that never took off had told XPRESS in October 2012, with the inordinate delay since its 2005 launch draining them financially and emotionally.
Today, 13 years on, they are still making the same appeal — but with a sense of hope and confidence.
The renewed plea comes in the wake of the Dubai Land Department (DLD) announcing last week that it would seize the plots and properties of Schon Properties, developer of the DIP project Dubai Lagoon.
According to a statement by the Dubai Media Office: “The step is aimed at protecting the rights of investors in light of Schon Properties’ actions of exploiting investors by refraining from depositing their money in Escrow (guarantee) account.”
The seizure of Schon’s properties is expected to pave the way for funds to be deposited in the Escrow account until the Dubai Public Prosecution and Dubai Courts complete legal procedures for the recovery of investor rights.
Investors have welcomed the move, and hope they can recover their money at the earliest.
Taimur S. Rana, a Dubai resident who invested in four one-bedroom apartments, said: “We welcome the announcement and we cannot wait to get our hard-earned money back. I invested Dh850,000 in 2005.
"It was a huge amount and it just went down the drain. Imagine the savings I would have made over 13 years had I invested the money elsewhere.”
Dubai Lagoon, which was initially marketed as a Dh3 billion mixed-use development with seven separate zones, has been in the eye of a storm since its launch.
While some zones of the project did not take off at all, others started but got delayed, prompting investors to lock horns with the developer on several occasions.
In 2017, it was reported that Schon Properties agreed to transfer a chunk of the mega-project to another developer to speed up delivery.
Under the agreement, the new developer was responsible for completing three of the seven phases of the project.
“But Zone 6, where I bought my apartment, did not come under this transfer, so my investment remained stuck,” said Rana.
Another investor Dr Shakeel Mangalgatti from Dublin, Ireland, said: “I am also a victim. I bought a unit in Dubai Lagoon Zone 6 in 2006. I paid Dh341,501, which was 55 per cent of the total selling price."
"Not a single unit has been delivered. I only got false promises. No construction is going on at the site.”
The investor said he was frustrated but was now hopeful Dubai authorities would salvage the situation.
A third investor Elizabeth Green said she had put her lumpsum pension in Dubai Lagoon as it came highly recommended in 2005-06.
“Over a period of 18 months, we had to make phased payments to fund the build.
"We completed the payment in early 2008 which is when our troubles began as we stopped getting updates and I started to become very nervous.”
She said she learnt, to her dismay, that no work had started on the construction site, following which she contacted a lawyer who wrote to the developer.
She claimed all communication subsequently ceased.
“When I asked for help, I got nowhere unless I paid big money to lawyers. I could not afford this as I went through a divorce and had a complete breakdown.”
She said a few months ago, she got in touch with other investors who were in the same position as her.
“It’s only been a few weeks and after contacting the police, embassies and the court along with RERA, who asked for our papers and receipts, we finally heard that Schon’s assets had been frozen,” she said, welcoming the announcement.
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