x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 January 2018

International City overcrowded, badly maintained, residents say

Problems with human effluent and overcrowding have spoilt the vast out-of-town development for many owners and occupiers

DUBAI // It was built to be a green, affordable, friendly neighbourhood, but these days residents say International City is overcrowded, badly maintained and beset with traffic problems.

"I came here four years ago and it was very decent and calm," said Malek Sarieddine, 29 from Lebanon, who lives in the France cluster. "There were very few people living here then. It's not like that any more. Now it's very, very crowded."

Mr Sarieddine said in the past year he had seen a rapid rise in the population of International City, as thousands of low-income workers and taxi drivers moved in from labour camps.

"There's only one main entrance and exit and every morning there's traffic jams," he said.

Rents have fallen by about 55 per cent. At their peak in 2008, a studio flat went for about Dh40,000 a year. Now it can be as low as Dh18,000.

The area has been flooded with blue-collar workers who often break the rules on the number of people who can share apartment space, said one property agent, who gave his name only as Shams.

"We've seen some apartments where there are around 30 people living in one room," he said.

A Nakheel spokeman said the issues were being worked on.

"Nakheel [is] in continuous discussions with Trakhees [the authority that inspects the development] for the overcrowding issue," the spokesman said. ". there has also been considerable improvement in regards to the maintenance of infrastructure and we expect more progress in the near future."

Another problem faced by residents was drainage.

A German executive said he had recently moved his offices from the Russia cluster because of persistent problems with waste water, which led to problems with pests.