x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

Dubai's long-awaited Pakistan community centre could finally be on its way

Completion of the Dh6.5 million hall in Bur Dubai has been on hold for more than a year.

Construction on a long-delayed community hall for Pakistani expatriates in Dubai could soon restart. Pawan Singh / The National
Construction on a long-delayed community hall for Pakistani expatriates in Dubai could soon restart. Pawan Singh / The National

DUBAI // Work on a long-delayed community hall for Pakistani expatriates could soon restart, with a funding shortfall expected to be resolved within weeks.

Completion of the Dh6.5 million hall in Bur Dubai has been on hold for more than a year.

But the Pakistan Association Dubai, which is developing the centre, said Pakistani businessmen in Dubai would help to pay for the rest of the work.

“We contacted them at the beginning of the year and they will now help to pay for the remaining funds we need to finish the project,” said Faisel Ikram, general secretary of the association.

“We are feeling positive that we can now restart work on the hall and hopefully get it done by October or November.

“The association is waiting for an agreement with the businessmen to be completed but we’re hopeful it will be done within the next few weeks. We are hoping for a positive outcome.”

The hall’s concrete foundations were laid more than three years ago but funding ran out in 2011, leaving the building a shell with a Dh2m shortfall.

“We have been promised funding on many occasions and many people are willing to help, but unfortunately getting the financing is the problem,” said Rizwan Fancy, the association’s community welfare officer.

“The economy is improving now so hopefully we can get the funding in place, but I can’t give a date for when the centre will be completed.”

The Pakistan Embassy in Abu Dhabi donated Dh500,000, with the rest of the funds coming through public donations.

Original plans included a state-of-the-art sound system and high-quality furniture, but they had to be scaled back.

“I’m not surprised with the delay,” said Yousuf Malik, a Pakistani expatriate from Deira. “To be honest, I don’t think it will get completed this year because the money isn’t there for it to be done.

“We have heard talk about a hall being built for decades but nothing has happened.”

Last year the association’s request to the Community Development Authority (CDA) for funding was declined.
The unfinished centre is next to the association’s building off Oud Metha Road in Bur Dubai.

When completed it will have space for 650 people, an attached library with 16 computers and an area for indoor games such as table tennis and badminton. The ground floor of the 1,688- square-metre centre is to include a lobby, a kitchen, toilets and a car park with 43-spaces.

There will also be a first-floor gallery that will be able to seat almost 200 people.

nhanif@thenational.ae