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Unsafe buildings in Dubai face demolition

Owners of more than 400 buildings will be given six months to demolish or restore them before Dubai Municipality intervenes.

April 12, 2011- Dubai, United Arab Emirates
More than 400 buildings in the emirate have been earmarked for 
demolition by the municipality.
These are examples of some of the buildings

Courtesy Dubai Municipality
April 12, 2011- Dubai, United Arab Emirates More than 400 buildings in the emirate have been earmarked for demolition by the municipality. These are examples of some of the buildings Courtesy Dubai Municipality

DUBAI // More than 400 buildings in Dubai have been earmarked for possible demolition.

The director general of Dubai Municipality, Hussain Nasser Lootah, issued the directive to demolish unlicensed, dilapidated and abandoned properties so that the remaining building stock complies with existing standards.

Once notified, owners of the buildings involved will be given six months to demolish, restore or complete construction of their properties.

The buildings in question have been labelled as dangerous, poorly maintained or abandoned, said Omar Mohammed Abdulrahman, the head of inspections at the municipality's buildings department.

"This figure [400] is too high and that is why we must take immediate action," said Mr Abdulrahman.

"Thorough inspections found some buildings too old and dangerous to the public and their health.

"Sometimes, crimes are happening in these buildings because doors are left open. They become unsafe and unclean."

A committee of engineers formed by the buildings department will handle decisions about the fate of each building on the list after considering technical and aesthetic details on a case-by-case basis.

Owners whose buildings are on the list will be required to make payments into a fund intended to ensure implementation of the committee's rulings.

Owners will be allowed to rebuild on the land, provided strict guidelines are followed.

Craig Plumb, the head of research at the property services company Jones Lang Lasalle, said: "We predicted a top trend of 2011 would be the importance of property management and maintenance, and the market is taking notice of this issue.

"It is good the municipality is being proactive because there is also more supply than demand."

Mr Plumb said it would be interesting to see the social implications of the new process, and also what would happen to existing tenants.

"Many new buildings are available and reducing the supply level will be positive for the market and good for the public because they will have better options," he claimed.

"But the question is: where will tenants go if they can't afford more than they are already paying?"

He said property management was still under-appreciated by many owners, and it made sense for owners to invest more in maintenance and facilities so they could keep and attract clients.

Ali al Suwaidi, a board member of the Middle East Facility Management Association (Mefma), said more regulation was needed. "In every city you'll find poorly managed buildings and there is a gap in the number of competent people in facilities management."

Mefma was formed in 2009 to regulate standards in the market. It has grown to a 200-plus membership representing more than 35 companies.

"Owners should put clients' needs first in service, safety and requirements," Mr al Suwaidi said. "With our climate, for example, it will be very bad if it is not maintained. Lifts must be checked, waste managed … all of these issues. Maintenance should be included in the package."

The buildings department also announced some changes in the certificate and licence process for property owners.

melshoush@thenational.ae