Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Thirty days to move...to where?

There are reports that Dubai Municipality has started the clock ticking on its one-month deadline for landlords of shared villas to evict the tenants, or, presumably, evict all but one family. It's part of DM's ‘One Villa-One Family’ campaign.

It seems to me that it's another knee-jerk reaction. Another simplistic blanket ruling to a highly complex problem.

First of all, there's a obvious safety implication of overcrowding.

Rooms divided by flimsy partitions, tens, even hundreds, of people crammed into inadequate space, means of escape compromised. And the sanitary and health problems of so many people living in such close proximity sharing limited bathroom and cooking facilities.

Obviously action must be taken to remove this problem.

But not all shared villas are overcrowded. Some are comfortably shared by singles or families, each having sufficient space and facilities and living in harmony.

There is a big difference between sharing and overcrowding.

You also have to factor in the accommodation that people are prepared to live in - I talked about a couple of examples back in January, here.

Then there's the economic factor. People have to share accommodation because they simply can't afford anything on their own. That takes us into the whole business area of salaries. Not only whether companies are prepared to but whether they can afford to increase salaries in line with accommodation and general inflation increases.

Do we need regulations on the number of people moving into Dubai until adequate accommodation is available? Not to mention the rest of the infrastructure, including hospitals, police, fire brigade, ambulances, roads & transport, power, sewage treatment, water...

About 800 people a day are moving here. Even deducting those who leave it's still a huge, relentless population increase that seems to be unsustainable.

Then the much-discussed question of the whole real estate sector being focussed on high end, luxury, expensive developments with little or no affordable accommodation being built.

That needs government involvement because land and construction prices are going through the roof and developers naturally want to maximise their return on investment.

And the big human question - how on earth are all the evicted people going to find alternative accommodation in one month? Where are they going to live if they can't find anything?

Most of the comments seem to be that they're desperately looking in the northern emirates. But there's a shortage of accommodation there too, and the additional people trying to move in will inevitably push rents up.

And if many of them do find accommodation there, it will add to the chaos on the roads into Dubai in the mornings and out in the evenings.

It's a vicious circle isn't it.

And last but not least, what about the year-in-advance rent that tenants have paid? Is there a guarantee that they will be repaid, or have their post-dated cheques returned?

Major cities around the world are struggling to find an answer to the problem of accommodation being beyond the reach of essential but lower paid workers, who are moving to cheaper areas. That includes essential workers such as cleaners, bus drivers, even nurses, firefighters and so on.

As with so many other areas, Dubai could and should have learnt the lessons of other cities around the world and planned to avoid the problems. It could have been done, we had the ideal opportunity because Dubai is being built from scratch, from empty desert.

Khaleej Times is running the announcement today, here.


Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

To be fair, there have been a lot of fires in Abu Dhabi related to over-occupied residences. I don't know that this 30 day rule is the best solution, but something has to change.

ZeTallGerman said...

I understand that cramped, partitioned houses are a fire hazard and this has to be changed. But what about single men and women sharing villas, where each person rents a bedroom and they share the various bathrooms, etc. amongst 4-5 people? What's the problem with that? What type of family can afford 300,000 Dirhams per year for a 5 bedroom villa? But split this through 5 people = 60,000 per person. That's affordable indeed.

Rose in Dubai said...

The whole accomodation issue is completely ridiculous! What business is it of the government if people share houses? OK, I'm not talking about the crazy 20+ to a room sharing, of course that is wrong. But how can people be expected to pay 80% or more of their salaries on accomodation?

What is the big deal about house-sharing anyway? I shared with friends before I was able to buy my own place, it was fun, maddening, chaotic and a major part of growing up and learning how to live with other people.

If salaries have to rise to accomodate this then companies will either go out of business or relocate, if they don't then people will relocate and companies will go out of business because they can't find the staff to operate. Of course the people who relocate first will be the ones who can easily get other jobs, in other words the skilled and capable - the ones this country can least afford to lose.

dave said...

Well said Rose. What right is it of the Govt to determine that single people cannot live under 1 roof, even if both males or both female (etc) providing no overcrowding exists.

This must be one of the few countries that openly practises discrimination against single males / females.

This place is becoming more and more like an apple.... Nice on the outside, rotten at the core.....

Seabee said...

Well, the whole 'bachelor' thing is yet another accommodation related issue that hasn't been handled well. I'm sure I've rambled on about it in the past - 'bachelors' here means single male or female and like any city we have lots of them. Flat or house sharing would be the norm for them, but in Dubai they're not allowed to live in 'family areas' or villas.

I'm sure I made the point in the earlier post on the subject that the authorities' involvement should be on overcrowding and nothing else.

Keefieboy said...

The new Dubai mantra: 'No Sharing!'. Not cars, not houses, not anything. Grrrr.

Anonymous said...

I wonder why the U.A.E. and the U.S. gov't has done nothing about the torture committed by the brother to the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi.

See the video at www.uaetorture.com

Abu Dhabi/UAE Daily Photo said...

The mixed sex issues is a law that reflects the values of the nation. I think it is their business. As for who lives with whom, overcrowding is a HUGE problem. Some people share a large villa with 6 friends. There are even more villas that have been sectioned off and house four times as many people as it's intended to hold. That's where the fire hazards and strain on the building structures (plumbling, sewage and the like)come in. What should the government do? Tell you that only responsible expats who place all-male occupants into a shared space that does not exceed the maximum number can share a villa? What about decreeing that mixed sex is ok so long as none of that nothing haram takes place? Come on, folks. The law isn't being made for the four women who share a 4 bedroom villa. It's for the companies that cut up a villa of 4 bedrooms and place 25+ "bachelors" in there.

MM said...

auh/uae photo.....

Most first world countries have regulations either municipal or lanlord-enforced restricting the number of people that can live in a villa (maybe 4 for 3 bedroom, etc) ......

Duabi needed the same, even single peopel sharing a villa with separate bedrooms have been given evicted notices.

As a Muslim, I am far more concerned about the rampant prostitution/trafficking that goes on rather than whether a man/woman live in a villa together.

If its their business to go after a man and woman living in the same villa (even with separate bedrooms), shouldnt clamping down on prostitution also be their business.....?
Or is it that even "illegal sex" becomes legal if money is involved.....?