x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

Dubai colony residents told to leave 'immediately'

Residents of Sheikh Rashid Colony, where rents have been as low as Dh7,000 a year, have received final notice to vacate the premises, which are slated for demolition.

Security guards serve final eviction notices to tenants of Sheikh Rashid Colony.
Security guards serve final eviction notices to tenants of Sheikh Rashid Colony.

DUBAI // More than 40 families have yet to leave the Sheikh Rashid Colony in Karama, which is scheduled to be demolished, after being asked to hand over their keys and vacate immediately or face legal action.

The warning came in a final eviction notice yesterday from the developer, Wasl Properties, which had initially notified residents in the low-rent apartments last year that they would have to leave.

"We hereby notify you to evict the leased property, hand over the Dewa [Dubai Electricity and Water Authority] final bill in addition to the leased property keys immediately as a final notice for eviction," stated the notice dated July 29.

"...we will be obliged to resort to the competent authorities and take all legal actions to ensure your safety and eviction from the building," the notice added.

Two security personnel were seen distributing the notices to tenants yesterday afternoon. An estimated 45 residents remain in the 880 units.

The complex of 17 buildings was built in 1978 on the orders of Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed, then Ruler of Dubai, to provide low-cost housing for low-income families. Since then, it has become home to several expatriate communities, mostly South Asian.

Dubai Municipality ordered the complex's demolition, deeming it beyond repair and unsafe for tenants and pedestrians.

Yesterday, many of the residents were either moving out or looking for affordable accommodations.

"I am moving to the Sheikh Hamdan colony," said Farhan Khalid Ahmed, a Pakistani expatriate whose last day at his ground-floor apartment was yesterday. "My family moved here 37 years back. I was born here."

After living in a two-bedroom flat there for Dh7,000 a year, he has now agreed to share an apartment for a monthly rent of Dh2,000.

Another family said they were hoping to move soon, as the community now looked "haunted" after most of its residents had left.

"It is really frightening to stay here," said Khadija Issa, an expatriate from Zanzibar who moved into the Sheikh Rashid Colony in 1981. "But wherever you go, the rents are too much. I am all set to move but I am still searching for a place. I will shift as soon as I get a place."

The three-storey Karama apartment buildings earned their nickname, "the 7,000 buildings", because of the Dh7,000 annual rent, which remained unchanged for decades despite Dubai's soaring property market. Three years ago, rents increased to Dh35,000 for new tenants, but for rose up to only Dh10,000 for existing ones.

Fatima Mohammed, a divorcee with two children who recently moved to Ras Al Khor, said she missed her life in the complex.

"It is a bit far. Everything was accessible there. I am missing my old friends. Everything is new here," she said.

In June of last year, Wasl Properties first notified tenants of the eviction order. In October, the developer set a deadline of June 30 of this year. Since then, it has sent multiple reminders to the tenants by letters, emails, calls and text messages.

Yesterday, Wasl declined to comment on when it will initiate legal action against remaining tenants.