x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

Dubai anger over private beach club for JBR instead of free

People living in Jumeirah Beach Residence are upset that the beach house they had been promised for free is now charging a hefty price.

Management of Meydan Beach, the low-slung structure in the foreground, say the private club
Management of Meydan Beach, the low-slung structure in the foreground, say the private club "will enhance the leisure offering of the Dubai Marina district for both residents and visitors".

DUBAI // The developer of Jumeirah Beach Residence (JBR) has built a luxury private club on the site of a promised community beach house, residents say.

When plans for JBR were announced, Dubai Properties Group (DPG) told people interested in buying that the use of a community beach house would be covered by their regular fees.

But work to convert the former JBR sales centre into a beach house for everyone never took place, and the building was taken over by a different company, Meydan, that has turned it into a high-end club called Meydan Beach.

"We were told the beach house would be free for owners and that is patently not going to be the case," said Robert Pacella, an Australian who bought his flat in Amwaj 4 tower in 2008.

Residents have seen their original dream of beachfront living slowly eroded as hotels, a newly announced mall and now the members' club take up space on the sand.

"I would say most JBR owners are disgusted by DPG," said Mr Pacella.

He said owners were also told they would have access to community gymnasiums, but DPG used the land set aside for gyms to build more flats.

"The big thing for us has been the plans for a beach park," Mr Pacella said. "They promised the land would not be developed and then all of a sudden they announced a mall is being built there. A lot of people are extremely upset about that."

While the Meydan clubhouse is not yet open to the public, staff are accepting membership applications. Rates have not been finalised but visitors can pay Dh500 for day access.

"Meydan haven't finalised the membership fees but some people are talking about Dh50,000 a year, which is too much," said Mr Pacella.

The beach house will feature an Italian restaurant, gym and spa, and separate infinity swimming pools for adults and children. It will have its own private beach and car parking.

Hayley King, 18, a Briton who has lived in JBR for three years with her parents, does not plan to pay.

"I think it's ridiculous that we have to pay for something that should have been included in the service fees we are paying," Ms King said.

"We were promised a lot of things but they haven't been delivered and the traffic situation is just crazy."

She has just returned from a month-long trip to Thailand and was surprised to find large areas of the The Walk boarded up, in particular the public car park next to the Hilton hotel.

"I just don't think much thought has gone into the planning of these things," Ms King said.

Emma Parsk, also from the UK, who rents an apartment in Murjan 5, said she would look at the price of membership before deciding whether to join.

"I go to the hotels sometimes and their prices are pretty high, so I would have to do a comparison about the cost before I decided to join the beach club," Ms Parsk said.

"I just think traffic is going to be a nightmare if we have people coming from outside of the area to come here."

Mr Pacella said JBR owners might consider suing DPG for breach of contract, but would have to do so individually.

"Class actions aren't allowed in the UAE, so I think DPG are banking on the fact that people don't want to take on a big developer by themselves through the courts," he added.

A DPG spokesman said the beach house was designed to enhance the community and would be operated and managed by Meydan.

"As the master developer of JBR, DPG can confirm that all residents have free access to private swimming pools within their buildings and other community facilities, and we are committed to maintaining JBR as one of Dubai's most popular residential and retail destinations," he said.

Andrew Christon, general manager of Meydan Beach, said: "Meydan Beach is a privately owned property and as such is unable to comment on discussions taking place between outside parties.

"We are, however, confident Meydan Beach will enhance the leisure offering of the Dubai Marina district for both residents and visitors to the area."