Al Habtoor: Nakheel is damaging Dubai's reputation

Khalaf Al Habtoor says beach charges on Palm Jumeirah are unacceptable

Khalaf Al Habtoor says Nakheel's stance on charging Palm residents to use the beach is 'dangerous' and 'unacceptable'.
Khalaf Al Habtoor says Nakheel's stance on charging Palm residents to use the beach is 'dangerous' and 'unacceptable'.

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Nakheel’s decision to charge for beach access on its flagship Palm Jumeirah project is “dangerous” and “unacceptable”, according to leading UAE businessman Khalaf Al Habtoor.

In an interview with CW's sister title Arabian Business on Sunday, Habtoor strongly hit out at Nakheel, claiming the decision would never have been approved by the Dubai government.

“It was 100% [damaging] and unacceptable. If I am buying a house and using the beach and later told I have to pay for the beach, this is abnormal. This is damaging the reputation of my country,” he said.

“I am 100% sure that the higher authorities were not aware of such a thing because they would not have accepted it…. They would never have [agreed to] it but some people try to show they are making money for the government – they are damaging its reputation two million times [over] for a few dirhams,” he added.

Habtoor, who operates a number of residential and commercial buildings in Dubai, said he would never amend a contract between his company and its tenants. “Our tenants if I have an agreement with them I would never, ever amend it, it’s not fair.”

Dubai’s real estate watchdog on February 15 said the ongoing dispute between Shoreline residents and developer Nakheel over plans to charge up to AED5,000 ($1,360) to access the beach, pools and gyms had been resolved.

“It’s already solved; this is what they have told me. The owners' association itself, they are dealing with Nakheel now,” Marwan bin Ghalita, CEO of RERA, told Arabian Business.

Five homeowners associations on the luxury development have been RERA approved, allowing them to appoint their own manager for the communal areas. Residents said they expected the remaining associations to be approved within two weeks.

Nakheel in December distributed leaflets to the Palm Jumeirah residents warning it planned to start charging residents. In the interim, the developer banned residents with outstanding service fees from using the beach, pools and gyms by rolling out a temporary security card system.

Nakheel said the lockout would be extended to Shoreline’s main buildings and car parks from January 15 - effectively barring residents from accessing their homes - but homeowners said the deadline had passed without incident.

The company said the lockout is in response to the high number of homeowners defaulting on service charges. Homeowners on Shoreline have AED57m outstanding in service fees, down from AED72m at the start of Dec, Nakheel said on January 3.

The Al Habtoor Group is a holding company for businesses ranging from construction, hospitality, automotive and real estate, run by Habtoor. In 2007, Habtoor sold a 45% stake to Australia’s Leighton Holding for $707m.

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