DUBAI // Who could resist the offer of a three-bedroom townhouse for less than Dh1 million? Not many, to judge by the scenes yesterday at the developer Emaar's offices in Dubai.
Police were called for a second day to control a crush of hundreds of people eager to buy. By 6am more than 500 people crowded around the entrance of the company's office in Emaar Square. The previous evening, officers were called to control the huge crowd.
When the sale opened yesterday morning with only a few people allowed into the building, others began to push forward to try to get through. "It was crazy, there was no line, it was just a large crowd of people trying to push through," said Surya Khanal, from Nepal, who had been there since 5.30am.
"There were at least 500 people here in the morning and only Emaar security holding them back."
Emaar temporarily halted the sales and police were called. About 10 patrol cars arrived at the scene with an ambulance.
Order was restored and by 10.30am the crowd had been divided into separate queues for men and women. "Once the police arrived people began to behave themselves and they lined up quietly," said Mr Khanal.
Although calm was restored, the sapping 35°C heat took its toll. One woman collapsed and had to be treated by ambulance staff.
The huge demand is for 188 off-plan townhouses in the Mira development near Arabian Ranches and Global Village, expected to be completed by 2016.
Prices were to be just under Dh1 million for a three-bedroom home, but had increased by the time the sale was opened to the public.
"I managed to get a corner house for Dh1.3 million, which I'm pretty happy with," said Rajeev Raja, an Indian sales manager.
Buyers were asked to pay a Dh3,000 deposit and provide a postdated cheque for Dh50,000. "This property is for personal use and I'm not planning to sell it," Mr Raja said.
Many waiting in the queue criticised the management of the sale. "They should have done an online registration, that way only the buyers would have come and there would not have been this situation," said an Indian businessman, who had gone directly to the office after arriving on a flight from Munich at 6.30am.
On Friday evening police had to disperse more than 400 people, mainly labourers and workers paid to stand in line for prospective buyers.
"I have also seen people who bought a property coming straight out of the Emaar office and selling it to other people outside with a 10 to 15 per cent premium," said the Indian businessman.
"The frustrating thing is that most of the people waiting in line are wasting their time.
"I understand more than half of the townhouses had already been sold to VIP customers on Thursday night."
An Emaar spokesman said the response had been "overwhelming", and they had put more homes on sale in addition to the 188 townhouses at the launch.
"The customer rush led to a slight delay in commencing the sale process," the spokesman said.