UN officials unhappy as our booming city shifts their offices to Jebel Ali

DUBAI — The UN’ honeymoon in Dubai has been a brief one. Two years after five UN agencies began setting up offices here, lured by free offices and warehouse space, the emirate is asking them to move. The UN now sits on the building site of Dubai’s new financial district.

By (AP)

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Published: Fri 26 May 2006, 12:47 PM

Last updated: Sat 4 Apr 2015, 1:51 PM

“We’d like to go back to where we started with the Dubai authorities. They assured us we’d never have a thing to worry about,” said Ivo Freijsen, chief of the UN’s regional office for emergency relief, which handles the Middle East, North Africa and Afghanistan. “But if this isn’t going to happen, we’ll go back to the drawing board.”

One site identified as a possible new home for the UN is a warehouse park under construction at Jebel Ali. The logistics park, next to a massive sea port and new airport, makes sense for UN agencies dealing in aid airlifts.

But for diplomats like Freijsen, the move would be like shifting the UN headquarters in Manhattan to an industrial district in New Jersey.

Freijsen said his agency is shelving its Dubai expansion plans until city leaders spell out the terms and location of its future home.

“We’re desperate to see things moving,” said Freijsen, a Dutchman with previous posts in Sudan and Iraq. “We’ve made a lot of investments here.”

Nothing will be clear until June 11, when a board that governs the free zone called Dubai Aid and Humanitarian City is supposed to reveal the aid zone’s new location, said Barbara Castek, Humanitarian City’s chief executive.

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