09 November 2005

Residence Committees

A quiet revolution is washing across parts of Dubai, a revolution of empowerment and self-help.

A few weeks ago friends who had recently moved to Dubai found - after a frustrating and long-winded search - a house in the Springs community in what is now called New Dubai, way out of town along Sheikh Zayed Rd (or SZR, as it is known). It is a brand-new house, but there is lot of cosmetic damage in the rooms. The stone surround for the sinks had been gouged, for example, and the bath tub surface was heavily scratched, as if tools had been dropped on it from a great height.

It had taken them so long to find a place that they were willing to put up with these faults, even though they had no great hope that the developer would rectify them, but now it seems that help is at hand: Residents committees are springing up in the large new communities in New Dubai in response to a lack of interest from developers to deal with complaints. Some developers even tried to raise maintenance charges without giving residents access to accounts or insight into spending requirements, which never goes down well with those who have been through the harsh fires of UK-landlord practices. This is a first in Dubai, where the newspapers are full of letters from people complaining about problems and then demanding that "the authorities should do something about it" rather than setting up a group to address issues themselves.

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