Saturday, 26 April 2008

Renting in Dubai

The house hunt continues for another week and I've come to the conclusion that the rental market in Dubai is completely out of control. Rents here have skyrocketed in the past 12 months and affordable housing is now a thing of the past unless you want to move out to International City next to the sewerage ponds.

There is a major difference between renting a property in Dubai and renting anywhere else. In Dubai you will be asked to pay the entire year's rent in advance in one cheque + 5% commission for the agent + 5% bond. If you're lucky you may get a landlord who'll accept 2 cheques but there are now very few landlords who do. While many companies here have housing loan arrangements for their management/professional staff who then make repayments from their salary, for most people in Dubai rent has become their major salary expense. We saw a lovely house on Wednesday night at Al Warqa which was really good value (by Dubai standards) at AED205,000 = $59,842pa or $1,150.80 per week. We told the agent on the spot that we'd take it, she rang the landlord who agreed and the agent said she would draw up the contract. The next day the agent rang to say that someone else had just turned up with 205,000 in cash and the landlord has rented the place to them instead. I know a couple in Dubai who are paying AED140,000 ($786 per week)for a one bedder and that's a good price, while a two bedder can be as much as AED190,000 ($1,066 per week) and 3 bedroom houses start at AED200,000 with the average house rental around AED340,000($1,900 per week) plus. As a comparison a brand new 4 bed, 4 bathroom house in Campbells Bay, Auckland with 2 lounges and a deck with seaviews rents for NZD900 per week or AED 134,000pa. While a 4 bedroom house with a full tennis court and a pool in Gladesville, Sydney rents for AUD 1,200pw or AED213,000pa.

Sharing a flat/house as we would do in Aus or NZ can be done here, though its illegal unless you are a 'family'. There has been a noticeable hardening of the Authority's attitude to single Westerners sharing places whether a couple, mixed house or girls/boys only. Unmarried couples living together are well advised to stay 'under the radar' as people (and its usually the woman) have been deported from the UAE if a complaint is made, and don't even think about having a baby here if you are unmarried! A recent interesting situation arose for a couple from the UK who've never married but have a couple of children. The man has been offered a job here which he can't accept unless they are a married couple. They've gone to the Registry office and got married but now a problem has arisen because, of course the dates on the childrens' birth certificates show that the kids were born before the parents married. Haven't heard how it turned out.

Friday, 25 April 2008

From the menu

Restaurants in Dubai whose menus are printed only in English have been issued with warning letters by the Dubai Municipality. There is a DM rule, which has been in existence for several years, requiring all food outlets, from Maccas to Level 41, to have menus in Arabic "in addition to any other language". A Dubai Municipality official quoted in the Gulf News said, "The move comes as part of the UAE government's decision to use Arabic as the first language in the country." The restaurants have 15 days to comply or face fines from AED1,000 ($291) to AED10,000 ($2,919).

Tuesday, 15 April 2008

An "Only in Dubai" story

A girl at work recently went on a weekend desert camping trip with a group of her friends. As the group included children and some older people, it was decided to hire a portable toilet for the campsite (what we call a 'Portaloo'). This was done at a cost of AED1000 (about AUD$290). An Indian guy duly delivered the Portaloo to the campsite, which was what they'd expected, but what was unexpected was that he then set up his tent and stayed the entire weekend cleaning the Portaloo each time after someone had used it. Only in Dubai would a Portaloo come with a 24/7 live-in cleaner!

Sunday, 13 April 2008

Satwa: The Plan

Thanks to "Concerned Emirati", a section of the plan for "Jumeirah Garden City" is here for you to have a look at. There have been some interesting reactions as people who thought they were "safe" have realised that the canal extension will be going right through their properties.

Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Satwa: The bland leading the blind

It's never a surprise to learn how little the authorities, in any country, actually know about what's happening in their own community is it? Even so, I was amazed by this next piece which is from the UAE Government's own General Information Authority website:

"New development makes Satwa residents anxious
(At least they got *that* right)

Dubai: Hundreds of anxious Satwa residents fear they may be evicted as their current homes are on the site of a proposed replacement project, Jumeirah Garden City.

One resident, who did not wish to be named, said rents are "ridiculous" in old buildings located in traditionally cheaper areas of neighbouring Karama and Bur Dubai.

Rents for a one-bedroom apartment now range from Dh75,000 to Dh100,000 a year and rent for a two-bedroom range from Dh95,000 to Dh130,000, with no parking facilities or balcony.

In the Barclays Bank building on Bank Street, a two-bedroom apartment is currently available for rent at a massive Dh275,000.
This converts to AUD $1,550.33 per week for a flat on a busy, noisy main road.
The usual rental for a house (called a villa in Dubai) is in the region of Dh300,000+. I could be living shore front on Lake Taupo for that!!

End of contract

Affected tenants in Satwa will be given over Dh80,000 per family to help them find new housing."
That's odd, some people are being offered only AED40,000 and other tenants have been offered far less.
"According to a source, tenants have until the end of their tenancy contract to leave..."
Not true, despite a lease which ends in November, we were given 3 months to get out but have managed to get a further month's extension
"...and they have not been issued with eviction notices."
Laughably incorrect, hard to beat the story of the new lease issued with the eviction letter pinned to the front page.

"Nationals without high income who rent in Satwa are being given new housing in the Al Quoz area."

Sunday, 6 April 2008

Satwa: There one day, gone the next

The demolition of Satwa is now underway and the latest estimate is that by the time the project is complete up to 100,000 people will have been evicted. There are some photos here. Its all happening very quickly. The process seems to be that a hoarding fence is constructed around the demolition zone, then the bulldozers and trucks move in immediately and the area is flattened within days. Some of the villas that have been flattened were huge and looked quite modern. Demolition of the compound we live in starts 1st July.