'We don’t have a home now': Evacuated Dubai tower residents face uncertain future

The building in Muhaisnah 4 had suffered structural damage last week and has been sealed off as authorities conduct investigations

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Photos: Supplied
Photos: Supplied

Published: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 6:00 AM

Last updated: Wed 24 Apr 2024, 10:16 PM

For the last few days, Mohamed hasn’t had the feeling of home. He was one of the residents of the tower in Muhaisnah 4 that were evacuated after the building suffered structural damage.

“You know that feeling of going back home after a long day and the feeling of security and peace envelopes you? I haven’t had that feeling for several days now,” he said, speaking to Khaleej Times. He and his family have been relocated to a hotel apartment in Al Nahda. “We don’t have a home now. We just have a house and a whole lot of stress.”


Tenants of 108 apartments in the Al Qaseer building in Muhaisnah 4 were evacuated on Friday after there was a damage in the building’s structure. The building has been sealed off and authorities are on the ground conducting investigations.

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“Right now, there is no clear indication of how long the investigations could go on, when we will be allowed to get back into our house for more than 10 minutes or whether the building will be fit enough for us to continue living there,” said Mohammed. “We are really in a state of uncertainty. We are trying not to panic by living one day at a time.”

Hunting for new homes

Mohammed has been hunting for an apartment in and around Muhaisnah and Al Nahda area. However, each time he has been turned away by landlords saying no flats were available, even though he knows the building has vacant apartments. “They know that there are more than 100 families looking for accommodation desperately,” he said. “They are playing games and biding their time so that they can give the apartment to the highest bidder. It is sad that these people should be blind to our plight.”

This feeling was echoed by another tenant of the building Nawal. “We have been looking for another apartment from morning to evening for many days now,” she said. “But most of the buildings are full and those that have free apartments are quoting exorbitant prices. They know that there are many desperate families now.”

According to Mohammed, the hotel apartments in the vicinity have also raised their prices. “They know that we are in need and we will rent the apartment even if they increase the rates,” he said. “After suffering losses during the rain, this is the last thing we were expecting.”

Five days of stay

In an email seen by Khaleej Times, the real estate agency managing the building has promised reimbursement of five days of stay to the tenants. Those living in one bedroom apartments will receive Dh500 per day, while those in two bedroom apartments will receive a cash compensation of Dh1,000 per day, “subject to submission of original receipts” of their stay.

During these five days, the “tenants must take a decision to continue to stay in the building or not”. According to the email, tenants who want to “continue to stay in their apartment after clearance from the authorities” can move back with a rent freeze “till the date of clearance from authorities to return to their apartments”. For them, “the tenancy contract will be extended for the number of days for which tenant could not occupy the apartment.”

Those wishing to terminate their contract have until Wednesday, April 24 to make the decision and must let the real estate company know so “in writing”. Their prepaid rent “from 24/4/2024 will be refunded upon hand over of vacant possession of the apartment with final Dewa Bill and Gas Bill as per terms of the tenancy contract.”

However, it is not clear if or when the building will be granted the necessary approvals for tenants to continue living in it. According to some of the residents, the building continues to be cordoned off, with limited access being provided to them.

Challenges

There are several challenges and uncertainties awaiting the tenants. “Even if we do manage to find a new home, we have nothing with us to move in,” said Mohammed. “Our furniture and other belongings are still in the building. So far, we have only been allowed 10 minutes on two occasions to go back into the house and retrieve some of our things. We have no idea when we will get the okay to stay for longer and move out everything we need.”

Nawal said that her worry is about her children. “So far, they have had online or hybrid learning,” she said. “I have not been able to retrieve their books because when we are given just ten minutes to take whatever is needed, we are thinking documents, essential items and clothes. We were not thinking of school and books.”

According to the residents, they were allotted 10 minutes each on two separate days to go into their apartment and pack a suitcase. Each time they were accompanied by a security staff, who waited outside and signaled to them when their prescribed time was over.

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