Nakheel serves eviction notice to residents of Jebel Ali Village

The real estate developer to 'redevelop' the place in a bid to ‘preserve and enhance its longevity’



Photo: Supplied
Photo: Supplied

By Mazhar Farooqui

Published: Tue 2 Nov 2021, 1:50 PM

Last updated: Tue 2 Nov 2021, 2:08 PM

Uncertainty has gripped Jebel Ali Village after residents were asked to pack up their belongings and leave within 12 months.

Developer Nakheel, which served them eviction notices, said it would "redevelop" the place in a bid to "preserve and enhance its longevity for many more generations to come".

"Coming soon: The past has a new future. A new chapter is set to unfold," Nakheel said in an Instagram video and advertisements showing a modern villa replacing an old house.

But the residents are at their wits' end.

Located just off Sheikh Zayed Road near Ibn Battuta Mall, Jebel Ali Village is one of Dubai's oldest and most treasured residential communities.

Jebel Ali Village, which has around 290 homes, was constructed in 1977 to provide accommodation to expatriates.

For some, the place has been home for decades.

Jebel Ali Village. Photo: Supplied
Jebel Ali Village. Photo: Supplied

The prospect of losing their home has filled residents with dread. Many said they are unlikely to afford a matching lifestyle elsewhere in Dubai because of surging rents. Others talked about how the displacement could impact their emotional and social well-being.

"I'm absolutely gutted, and that's an understatement. Perhaps, something fancy will come up here, but a slice of history will be forever effaced from the city," said a Briton for whom Jebel Ali Village is "like a little jewel in the desert," and home since the early 1980s.

Canadian expatriate, Jane Glavan, who runs a drone business from her home, said she might have to move her SME (small and medium enterprise) to the northern Emirates, or, perhaps, another country.

"We help support the UAE and contribute towards its development by self-engineering and building drones which plant mangrove and terrestrial tree seeds besides providing environment analysis.  We need to have a large place which we have here.  To have to pay separately for a workshop and a space to manage the seeds will potentially devastate our business," said the woman who has been living intermittently at the Village for 19 years.

Jebel Ali Village. Photo: Supplied
Jebel Ali Village. Photo: Supplied

Aileen from Ireland said she found the eviction notice stuck on her gate on Sunday morning.

"I'm sad, and it's not necessarily because I will lose my home but because of the strong neighbourhood ties that will be snapped once we leave. For me, Jebel Ali Village, truly, represents the unity in diversity that Dubai strives for. We bond like no other residential community in the city. During the pandemic we looked after each other. We're like a big family here," said Aileen, who moved here around five years ago.

Yet, another resident who has been served the notice said he was appalled to read the date on the document.

"It shows that they applied for eviction during the height of the Coronavirus pandemic in October 2020. At a time when people were struggling with job loss and struggling businesses, plans were being tabled to evict us," he rued.

The owner of a restaurant at Jebel Ali Recreation Club located in the precincts of the Village said their businesses would be impacted in a big way.

"We rely heavily on Jebel Ali Village residents," she said.

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A Nakheel spokesperson said they "recognise Jebel Ali Village's importance to Dubai's history and its residents and, for this reason, have decided to redevelop the community to preserve and enhance its longevity for many more generations to come."

"We've informed all tenants of this decision, and are complying with all legal requirements," the spokesperson said in an email statement to Khaleej Times.

"We're keen to help our tenants as best we can during the transition and have put in place a number of support services to make their relocation as smooth as possible," the statement added.

mazhar@khaleejtimes.com


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