x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Chaos at Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall after heavy rain causes leaks and flooding

Shop owners were left counting the cost of a night-long rainstorm that caved in ceilings, destroyed stock and forced loss-making closures at Ibn Battuta Mall

Workers clean up at the Tony Roma’s restaurant after heavy rains caused the roof of Ibn Battuta Mall to leak in several places. Jeff Topping for The National
Workers clean up at the Tony Roma’s restaurant after heavy rains caused the roof of Ibn Battuta Mall to leak in several places. Jeff Topping for The National

DUBAI // Shop owners were left counting the cost of a night-long rainstorm that caved in ceilings, destroyed stock and forced loss-making closures at Ibn Battuta Mall.

Scores of cars had to be towed away from outside the mall after knee-high floodwaters covered the main access roads.

Out of all the areas of Dubai affected by rain and flooding, Ibn Battuta Mall and its surroundings may have suffered the most.

“I’ve never seen anything like it,” said Briton Andrew Brennan, whose Nissan Pajero was trapped in the water outside the mall.

“These streets are like rivers. This is the worst flooding I’ve ever seen here.”

Mr Brennan was one of several people whose vehicles were submerged up to their headlights.

Crews began pumping water from the road before 10am on Friday but by 1pm there were still areas in which it was difficult, if not impossible, for drivers to pass.

Anil Kumar, a taxi driver, was stranded after his vehicle broke down.

“The customer wanted me to drop him off here but I couldn’t get into the mall without going through the water,” he said.

Mr Kumar feared he may have to make up the shortfall of lost taxi earnings for that day from his own salary.

Inside the mall, several shops were damaged. Massimo Sarti, a clothes retailer that last month underwent a Dh1 million renovation, was hard hit, with an area of the ceiling torn down and a large portion of stock ruined. Early projections of lost stock and lost sales for the shop was up to Dh100,000.

A member of staff, Ronaldo Vargas, who stayed at the shop overnight to fend off the worst of the rain damage, was injured when a portion of the ceiling, including a spotlight, fell on him.

“I had come to change the bucket where it was leaking, when it fell,” said Mr Vargas, who dislocated his shoulder.

Jad Cheaido, the son of the shop owner, said the company was unhappy with the response of the mall’s management. It is owned and managed by developer Nakheel.

“If you’re a big company, they will look after you,” he said. “If you are a small business, you have to just wait your turn.”

Another shop punished by the weather was Sharaf DG. Jeric Yambo, the manager, said the value of damaged stock was not yet clear, but he estimated it at more than Dh10,000.

“In our inventory room and the staff room, everything was damaged,” he said. “That’s where we keep all the TVs and it’s all full of mud and water.

“I’m not sure how much the damage is but it is huge.”

Nakheel has hired a contractor to apply extra layers of waterproofing to the roof of the mall. An official connected to the work, at the mall on Friday, said it was about a month away from completion.

“A contractor is on-site and work is ongoing,” a Nakheel spokesman said.

One shop that has apparently been affected every time there is inclement weather is Go Sports.

The manager, Firoz Khan, said he had been helping staff clean up since 5am so they could receive customers that morning.

He estimated that between Dh10,000 and Dh15,000 of clothing and sports equipment had been damaged.

“We shouldn’t have to go through this every time it rains,” he said.

mcroucher@thenational.ae