Friday, 29 February 2008

Satwa: The end is nigh

We've been evicted as the entire area of Dubai bordered by the unnamed road that runs behind the Fairmont, Al Diyafa Street, Al Satwa Road and right through to the Dubai jail on Al Safa Road is being cleared. This is a stretch of land 10kms long by 2kms wide. The Dubai Department of Lands has given residents in the area 3 months notice to leave. Apparently the eviction letter was given to the Arabic residents of the compound we live in a few days ago but we weren't given a copy of the letter because it was issued in Arabic only and they thought that as expats we couldn't read it. D'uh! Did they think we wouldn't notice if we came home from work one day to find the house bulldozed? We had to ask the compound security guard for our copy which Colin scanned and I emailed to Rasha who confirmed the bad news (amusing that the Lands Dept describes it as an "evacuation"). An article from the Khaleej Times is here.

This mass eviction effects thousands of people, many of whom probably still have no idea that they are going to loose their homes in the near future. We have friends in a compound two streets over from us who've heard nothing about it and they're right in the firing line. Any Emiratis in the area who are effected by the eviction will be compensated by the Government with either cash or land on which to build a new house.

Here's an article from 7 Days that was published last Wednesday that I hadn't seen until a neighbour told me about it this morning:

"Where do we go?
Thousands of people in Satwa are struggling to find somewhere to live after being told to vacate their homes by the Land Department. The villas they live in are to be demolished to make way for the construction of a new project, but residents say they cannot find anywhere else affordable to stay. “I have no idea where to go. Rents are skyrocketing everywhere in Dubai,” said Mohammed Jaleel, an Indian who lives and works in the area. "Satwa was the ideal place for people to stay as it was centrally located and had a number of houses which were available at reasonable rent.”
Many of the residents, who are mostly bachelors, have been living in the area since the villas were constructed more than 20 years ago. With the department slapping the eviction notices on them, many residents are now running out of time to look for new accommodation. “I have a very short period to stay in the villa. After my tenancy contract ends, I have to vacate and look for a new house. Getting a house at nominal rent is difficult in Dubai,” said Farooq Ahmed, a Pakistani.
The Land Department has already begun to demolish some villas which were vacated by tenants earlier this month, although officials yesterday refused to say what would be replacing them when contacted by 7DAYS. A number of UAE nationals also reside in the area, but the Land Department has promised them they will be suitably compensated with either money or with land on which to construct a new house.
And the soon to be homeless non-Emirati residents said they could do with some help as well. “I would like the government to help us find alternative accommodation so that we can move on,” Ahmed said."

To my horror I've realised that the clearance area includes:
Ravis, the best Pakistani restaurant in the world
Jabal Ohod, the finest shawarma joint in Dubai. Not only do they produce delicious chicken and mutton shawarmas but they make wonderful mango juice too, and its all home delivered by a guy on a pushbike.

And ladies, you'd better get to Karama asap to buy your "genuine fake" handbags, because the tenants at the Karama Centre have been given 3 months notice too.

For a more corporate take on the whole situation, here's an article from MEED which parrots the development company's media release and asks no questions.


  1. That's crazy, are there any areas with new houses being built? There's going to be so many people without anywhere to live. I thought Dubai was meant to be about growth, not driving people out of the city!!!

  2. Moan moan moan Satwas a dump and should have been bulldozed years ago THEN i looked at your diagram and saw that my block is right in the middle of the demolition area and we havent been told anything. i didn't give a rats before but i'm angry now.

  3. Hi Carolynn Zeena here... That's so sad... I will miss that villa.

  4. This is beyond horrifying.

    Expats and emirati nationals alike were told that their investments were safe in Dubai, and to this day the city attracts investors on that premise - yet go online and one finds that it is all a farce.

    I am part local, residing in Abu Dhabi, my father had purchased a property in satwa some years ago.

    Just last year, out of the blue, the government banned buying/selling of property in satwa. We were stuck.

    Well, I received that letter that you mentioned, and promptly went to the compensation department.

    But surprise, they had no system in order, in fact the chaos was bordering on extreme. No one had any idea what was going on.

    I was worried, but convinced myself into thinking that my own government would take care of me!

    I expected to get at least the MARKET VALUE OF MY PROPERTY!

    Today, however, I was told that we were being offered 3.5 million for a property that is worth twice that amount. Moreover, the last offer we got for the house two years ago was 4.5 million!


    And its not just me, its everyone. I have hired a lawyer, but it does not seem to be making any difference.


    My father was not originally emirati... he was not born rich, he worked himself to the bone.

    Had we taken out our money two years ago, and invested it elsewhere, we would have been sitting on a pretty penny instead of worrying about the rent which is our only source of income.

    I cannot buy another villa with that sum, not with the current real estate boom. How am I to make ends meet?

    I do not know what to do, I am not fluent in Arabic and am not aware of how I can contact the other residents.

    I wish to persuade them to rally behind the cause of fighting for justice and claiming their rights.


    Being a woman, I am not allowed to fight my own battles here, and my reception at government institutions is at best cold at worst shocking.


  5. omg thana al ansari how will you make ends meet with just 3.5million dirhams? you poor girl. lol what a joke.