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07 January, 2007

Grim news in the gulag

One of the few things that Dubai ever got right, property-wise, was the lovely leafy gulag surrounding Cell Block G. "Guantanamo", "Karama-by-the-Sea", it has been known by many different names and universally loved. At least since they built Ibn Spud mall, and the Great Rent Apocalpyse erupted throughout the rest of the sandlands.

On first being confined to Cell Block G, back in March 2003, the wardens were struggling to attract inmates. One associate got a free month's rent for taking a ground floor cell, because there was such low demand.

Six months later there was a waiting list of 300 people.

One year later there was a waiting list of 3,000 people and it cost Dh9,000 just to get your name on.

A year after that, the waiting list was closed, and it was down to luck or wasta.

And now they plan to tear half of it down. No one knows why. The saddest thing is that Cell Block G and its surroundings are a model housing project that Dubai could and should have shown off to the world. Beautiful landscaping with - in the main part - sustainable, hot-climate vegetation. A clever road system that kept much of the development pedestrianised. Spacious, affordable accommodation built to a decent standard at a relatively low cost. Nearby amenities and community leisure facilities.

But Dubai has never thought to flaunt The Gardens. Instead, it touts its hideous, overpriced poorly built, appallingly planned tower blocks because they make more cash per square inch of concrete. The Gardens is unique to Dubai and it is worth preserving, promoting and emulating. It is arguably the Bastakia of the new millennium.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is the rent like at the Gardens anyway? Last I heard, back in 2003, it was around 20,000 - 50,000 range depending on the number of bedrooms.

07 January, 2007 07:21  
Blogger secretdubai said...

The "small" two bedroom cell (which is extremely spacious compared to any other mid-range accommodation elsewhere in Dubai) was Dh30,000 last year, and will be the same this year.

You get an air conditioning charge on top of that which is paid through Dewa and comes out at around Dh5,000-Dh6,000 a year. Astronomical compared to my useage of A/C, plus you still pay extra (electricity for the fans) to use the A/C, that charge just covers the cold air, but whatever.

The flats here have a proper layout. The kitchens have doors, and there is a passageway past the bedrooms and bathrooms, so nothing opens directly off the living room. And there is a small hallway, so the front door doesn't open directly off the living room either, which is nice.

Compared to The Greens say, where the flats are absolutely tiny (one bedrooms anyway) and the kitchen is part of the living room, there is no way to close it off if you are cooking something like curry.

Part of me wishes I had been able to afford the rent-mortgage deal on The Greens, because it would be great for the rent to have turned into something I get back, but on the other hand the standard of living there is much lower. I frequently burn stuff while cooking, and being able to close the door is so great ;)

07 January, 2007 09:53  
Blogger inmotion said...

I heard that they were only evicting or refusing to renew for those that had 3 bedroom apartments in the gardens.

I also heard they were doing this so they could give the apartments to their staff.

I don't get it why don't they just build more compounds like this ..

It would save people a hell of alot.

Anyways, whats a two bedroom going for these days?

07 January, 2007 10:31  
Blogger marwan said...

30k? Goddamn, that's amazing.

It's like a modern reincarnation of the Karama colony, which provided affordable accommodation for families for more than twenty years - before being torn down to make room for a connecting road.

07 January, 2007 10:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is a big IF here. They said they are going to demolish all the apartment block by Shaikh Zayed road between world trade center and Emirates towers just to kick out the tenants that were sticking like super glue to cheap rentals for years.

After everyone was evicted, they turned the whole complex into hotel apartments facilities with the same price as a 5 start hotel.

I'm sure this is a very bad news for all the residents there. I have a friend living there and she was showing me fingers when I was complaining about rentals in Dubai. I think its my turn to show her fingers... this is a bit soothing and amusing for me!

07 January, 2007 16:06  
Blogger inmotion said...

do you think that the fact that they've offered 6500 units up for rent in International City has anything to do with this?

annual rent starting at 31 k / annum?

07 January, 2007 16:10  
Blogger Keef said...

The Gardens are indeed a bargain for existing tenants. Rents for new tenants (if you ever get to the top of the waiting list) are at least twice the old rent. This eviction story sucks though - I'm sure existing tenants would like to have the option of staying (because it is actually a fantastic place to live) and paying double the rent: but that would embarrass Sh Mo and his rent cap.

07 January, 2007 16:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ok let’s get the story straight.... After speaking to the very helpful staff of the Administration Department (04 884 5555) they have informed me that a maximum of 16 buildings will be demolished because the RTA (Roads and Transport Authority) are building a road parallel to Shk Zayed Road in between The Gardens and Ibn Battuta Mall. The road was meant to go straight through the middle of the project but after lots of discussion instead of demolishing half the project the above was decided. SDD I would recommend that you get all of your facts right before you publish blogs on a specific subject and to all those worried tenants just speak to The Gardens staff and don’t listen to made up rumors.

07 January, 2007 18:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why don’t all of those tenants who are worried just speak to the management to get your story straight? The buildings are being demolished because the RTA is making a road parallel to Shk Zayed road in between Ibn Battuta Mall and The Gardens. You just have to speak to any of The Gardens staff and they will tell you this…

08 January, 2007 01:41  
Blogger One Nine Seven One said...

I dont know about the Bastikia comparison.

The Springs is alot nicer than the Gardens and I was glad when I left. I lived in the Gardens for nearly 2 years and still managed to get confused over the complicated street layout. Thankfully when Ibn Battuta was built I could use the neon Geante sign to help get my bearing as I dont have an advanced degree in horticulture to understand and remember the Garden's street names.

The Springs is way classier, more secluded and very quiet and is a better alternative for a nice lifestyle. Plus it is purely composed of villas (which maybe small by my standards but still functional).

Those who can affor it, are better of moving to the Emirates Hills.

08 January, 2007 12:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The gardens are a great deal, have been there to friends many times.

There are a few other places in Dubai where you can get good rent, believe it or not. I have always felt rather smug when people complain about their rent. I live in a large 2-bed apartment (116m2 1,250 ft2) with an additional (30.5m2 325ft2) balcony/terrace.
The balcony looks over the creek where all the large dhows pull in, between the Hilton creek and the emaar freehold towers at the clock tower.

We looked early on to rent a villa (it is the city of aspirations after all) but decided to be frugal, boy did that pay off!!! I have been in this building for over 4 years now and last year the rent finally went up from 40k to a ghastly 44k. We were told that we would not have another rent increase until 2008. The owner of the building does not need the money, believe me.

My friends call it the ‘’dark side’’ but it definitely pays to live somewhere like this. The management is great and we are on the right side of the building to never have to go near makhtoum road or the clock tower.

There is no waiting list anymore, has not been for a few years for the obvious reason that nobody ever leaves. But the years of cheap rent have paid off, have bought a house back home and am moving back at the end of April. So if anyone is interested in this apartment for the beginning of May then drop me a mail,

Keep up the good work sd, miss your more regular frequent though.
Keep up the good work sd, miss your more regular frequent though.

08 January, 2007 17:25  
Blogger Balushi said...

The ppl living in Garden are NEW COMER'S, They came here To Rape this country of its riches and blabla...

I dont feel sorry for them.


I do feel sorry for THOUSANDS AND THOUSANDS of Baluchi's who came to this Country even before it existed... And their Entire Colony such as AL GUSAIS, SATWA, SONAPOUR, SOUK AL GAWADER...


IF There is one thing I am pissed about is OUR OWN BALUCHI'S are QUITE ABOUT IT!!!!

shame on you!

Anyways WE WILL NEVER LET ANYONE DEMOLISH THE GAWADER SOUK! - this is the First Souk of Dubai and it shall remain that way,,,!!! YOU YEMANIES!!!!!!

08 January, 2007 18:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Couple of problems arise, while Burj Dubai is slowly joining into the world's tallest Top 10 chart. According to one of the engineers, they have found thin cracks on the foundation of Burj Dubai. They are still examining the problem and the cause, but it has already slowed down the construction of the wings. They have coloured white the walls around lvl. 17 to be able to examine the cracks in depth. Sadly, that's not all, it seems that the last test of the facades failed as well, but they say it won't slow down the construction.

09 January, 2007 12:52  
Blogger Balushi said...

just like the engineer, who said burj is tilting.

and not to mention the engineer who said "Palm island is sinking"

and.... list goes on.

09 January, 2007 15:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyways WE WILL NEVER LET ANYONE DEMOLISH THE GAWADER SOUK! - this is the First Souk of Dubai and it shall remain that way,,,!!! YOU YEMANIES!!!!!!..

why dont you go back home across the gulf?at least you have a home which does not belong to happy

09 January, 2007 15:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Why the fuss over what’s going to happen to those buildings?
Once the tenants are out (which I think is an inevitable matter now) it doesn’t really matter weather there is going to be a highway, mall extension raven resort or a fertilizing plant…
Brotherly advice to the tenants of those buildings: I really sympathize with you, I have been there before, at least you can be grateful for the 7 month notice to think over what you have to do, Good Luck!.

09 January, 2007 17:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Again people are putting up with the laws in Dubai. Its quite plain and simple, if you are not making enough money here return to your home countries. If you are making money here stay and stop whinging. You all know that this is the way the country operates and should be well used to it by now. Expats should not be scared of going home thinking that people will say they did not make it overseas or Dubai was not all it was cracked up to be. Go Home

10 January, 2007 11:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anonymous; thanks for the word of encouragement, some people complain because they genuinely want things to be better, not because they want to go home but they are too embarrassed to.
On a side note SD, here’s the caricature of Al Khaleej yesterday’s edition:
expressive isn’t it?
(P.S. to be ‘read’ from right to left)

10 January, 2007 14:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Very true dubaijazz ... to all residents of Gardens ... Welcome to Dubai and just be happy that you dint get the worst of this city. Atleast you got 7 months notice. I was living in a building managed by ROCKY RealEstate ... One fine morning 2 months prior to my contract renewal I got a letter telling that building is to be converted to commercial building from residential so no more contract renewals. Going to there office after some argument manager plainly told me that you are paying 22K for your studio ... if ready to pay 42K .. stay else LEAVE ! ... I dont think I could take it to rents committee either cause 'officially' rent was not increased but building was converted to commercial. Was not surprised to know that apartment was rented for 45K to another family after I left.

Just be thankful that they gave you 7 months period ... and unlike some small real estates like ROCKY n all , they are not outrightly demanding 100 % increase in rent through 'dubious' means.

11 January, 2007 15:24  
Blogger Earthbound Misfit said...

Has anyone read today's 7days?

Not only are they coming up with the stupidest designs they can't even come up with an original name - Burj Al Arabi. Seriously, come on people. What next Burj Al Arabia, Burj Al Arabs, Burj Al Arabian???

I especially like how they have managed to shrink national culture and identity into a Dishdash. I say what about the abbaya? Why can't we have a building shaped like an abbaya (or will that be too offensive - you know the whole going under the abbaya and all??)

It is really a sad state of affairs when the culture and identity (two things they love to harp on about here - yep we got no intellectual achievements, no real claim to fame, but our culture, identity, buildings and buildings about our culture and identity), has been reduced to a Dishdash. Either the designer has the imagination of moss or the dishdash is all they got in the way of culture.

Tch Tch Tch. Pathetic.

11 January, 2007 17:06  
Blogger al-republican said...

OK, even though SD has been censoring a lot of what I have been trying to say here, I guess this one will make it on her blogs since it suits her propoganda:

I was driving towards Dubai from the the Oman/Hatta road through Rashidiyyah and nearly got into an accident when a local Arab was driving at a speed of 200+ km/hr on the left most lane. I had just shifted from the middle lane to the left most lane because there were 2 buses and a truck in front of me driving pretty slowly consecutively.

I checked my rear view mirror and my side mirror and found the left most lane clear (I could see a black mercedes pretty far, far away approaching fast). So I hit the gas at 150 km/hr on the left most lane to overtake the 3 huge vehicles and get back on the right lane. In the mean time, Mr. Speed Demon didn't give a damn and just kept coming at the SAME 200+ speed at me. Not caring to break even a bit.

Eventually he had to hit the brakes because it was quite obvious that I couldn't overtake the the huge vehicles in time and the hard shoulder wasn't big enough for him to overtake me from there. One would have thought that this guy had a flight to catch.

Mr. Speed Demon Al-Emarati couldn't digest the fact that a dirty, sub-continentor like myself had forced him to brake up. So he decided to give me a piece of his mind and drive parallal to me and hurl some abuses. It hurt his ego further when a brown person gestured him to drive on instead of hurling hateful vitriol at 150 km/hr (he was hardly looking at the road ahead). He tried to shoulder me so that I lose control of my vehicle, but he failed 3 times. How could a stinking desi outsmart the arbab!? Preposterous! But, obviously, he having a better car (the latest E series) kept up with me eventually leaving me no option, but to come to a grinding halt in the MIDDLE of the highway by braking right in front of me! I couldnt hoodwink him this time because there were cars both to the right and the left.

Mr. Attitude comes out of the car charging towards my car hurling insults (bear in mind there are cars flying past both our sides at excess of 100km/hr+ speeds!). By now I had had enough of his tantrums and charged out of the car, too. Now he wasn't as bad as he was initially. He stopped right there. So I decided to take it easy on him and apologized to him and acknowledged my fault. That was the biggest mistake I made in this entire debacle.

Pouncing at the opportunity (not caring we were in the middle of road) he started shouting at me again. I rudely interjected, reminding him that we were smack in the middle of the highway. He suddenly realized the risk involved, shouted "fuck you" (the only english sentence he said that made sense to me) and screeched away into the horizon at lightning speed.

What a weird incident! I am sure there are goons like him in all races, but this was just too wack of an incident! Icing on the cake: He had hip-hop music playing in his car...

11 January, 2007 21:12  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that people who have their own blogs still post their irrelevant experiences about road rage on a post having to do with part of the Gardens being demolished.

12 January, 2007 06:09  
Blogger secretdubai said...

I find it amusing that people who have their own blogs still post their irrelevant experiences about road rage on a post having to do with part of the Gardens being demolished.

Exactly. Along with the accusation that I have been "censoring a lot" of what he has written here. I didn't approve one or two comments a while back, because of trying to avoid religious debate. But he hasn't commented anything for weeks, now this complete hijack of a comment. Had it been the first comment I wouldn't have approved it, but seeing as people have finished their (relevant) comments to this post, I greenlighted it.

12 January, 2007 14:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am a Gardens resident but i would like to share a solution that has helped me get out of this jam and a new place in Dubai at the price I can afford. Go to and enter what you want. They say 'developers compete with you' and that was indeed my case... i had several calls within the same day offering me rental or freehold villas & apartments within my budget. I am surprised that more people dont know aobut this website.

12 January, 2007 20:28  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amazing anybody could think the Greens is a model housing project -time for a reality check I think. LOL! Somebody described it to me as 'like Salford in the 60's with sunshine'. How true! Now what was that song, 'Little boxes made of ticky tacky'....

12 January, 2007 22:33  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Had it been the first comment I wouldn't have approved it, but seeing as people have finished their (relevant) comments to this post, I greenlighted it."

oh the power!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

13 January, 2007 04:01  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A property manager dies and soon finds himself standing in front of St. Peter. St. Peter tells him "You have a choice of going to heaven or to hell and I suggest you check them both out before deciding." So he chooses to check out hell first.

He goes down to hell and finds himself in the middle of the biggest party he has ever seen. People are dancing and drinking and doing the limbo (and nobody's doing the Macarena!). Everyone is laughing and having a great time.

Next St. Peter takes him up to heaven to look around. Everything is white and pristine. People are speaking softly about philosophy and mathematical formulas. Others are simply contemplative and serene. He's bored in about five minutes.

St. Peter then says to the property manager, "I want you to sleep on it and meet me back here in the morning to let me know your decision." The next morning he comes back and says to St. Peter, "Heaven is very nice and all, but hell looks great, so I've decided that I want to go to hell". So St. Peter puts him on the escalator down to hell.

When he gets there he sees Satan whipping people and there's fire everywhere and everyone is screaming in pain. So he goes over to Satan and says "Hey, what gives here? Yesterday I came here to check the place out and everyone had me partying and it looked like a great time. What happened?"

Satan looks at him and says "You used to be a property manager so you ought to know the answer to your own question. Yesterday you were a prospect. Today you're just another resident!"

-Debbie Menon-

13 January, 2007 11:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In Quebec, Canada, almost three decades ago farmers lost much of their land when the government decided to build a huge airport, more than an hour away from Montreal, the closest city. Recently the airport was relegated to cargo and commercial flights were bumped back to the montreal airport. Farmers were given their land back, or cash equivalents.

14 January, 2007 08:02  
Blogger Jassim said...

When Yahya was living in the Gardens and I used to visit him, there were these large empty villas that were never filled. They just sat there taking up space. Are these the same places that are getting demolished?

14 January, 2007 11:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it amusing that people who have their own blogs still post their irrelevant experiences about road rage on a post having to do with part of the Gardens being demolished.

Let us be grateful that he didn't bring Islam into this one!!! He'll probably do that when SD talks about the new iPhone!!!

14 January, 2007 13:15  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD now a days your blog has slowed down.. I was wondering what could be the reason?

14 January, 2007 13:50  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And if you'd like to comment on the restaurants in Dubai (anonymously if you want) then go here.

(Oh comeon, a little bit of advertising for a fellow blogger)

14 January, 2007 13:51  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Once SD censored this blog. She became more like a big brother. I guess the societies one lives in moulds you into a mirror image.

People sometimes feel crushed living here, they cannot expresstheir thoughts, afraid to criticise, free to choose etc. Your blog sometimes gave people the ability to vent.

In turn the venting attracted its own people on the opposite side.
Once you decided to remove that ability, to censor you became as interesting as the local govt owned stations i.e....Booooooooring.

I hope you have learnt your lesson.

14 January, 2007 16:58  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Once SD censored this blog. She became more like a big brother. I guess the societies one lives in moulds you into a mirror image.

When I started blogging, over at LiveJournal, hardly anyone read my blog except a few LJ friends. I could get away with so much more. And I had the Friends Only feature for more controversial entries.

When I moved to Blogger, which got me spidered by Google, and then the whole blocking thing happened, loads of people started coming here. I can't afford to write the same kind of things any mroe

As for censorship: I still hardly censor anything. I've always censored anti-royal and anti-Islamic comments, even back in the LJ days, because although I believe people have the right to make them, just as I believe the Danish cartoons were a legitimate form of commentary and expression, it is simply unsafe for me to allow anti-Islamic remarks here.

The only additional comments I censor now are downright flaming insults: eg people calling me a whore, that kind of thing. Why should I allow people to post that view? I let them disagree with me, but as for personal unwarranted insults, they can simply fk off. I'm not giving them the time of day. I wouldn't go to someone else's blog and call them a whore, so why should I put up with that?

I'm also censoring completely irrelevant comments that are made early on after a post: simply because they tend to hijack the debate from the topic in hand. Later on I allow them, as you can witness.

One comment I censored the other day was someone trying to be funny by talking about "smelly Indians". I thought their comment was more likely to cause offence than humour, so I didn't approve it. I try to let people vent as much as possible, within the usual limits here.

But seriously, what you do you really expect me to do? There are loads of things I would love to blog about, but simply don't dare. I would love to blog the very amusing dream I had about Sheikh Mo and traffic jams: however the chances of someone taking offence (which has frankly become a national pastime in the Arab world) is too high.

I have made several posts which you currently can't see. They're hidden on LJ as private posts. When I eventually leave this country, I will publish them, and I will put clear links to where they are so people can see them. They're actually not that interesting, but they are things that I feel are important but are not currently safe to write about.

14 January, 2007 17:22  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD, even though I disagree with most of your views, I must acknowledge that you have been fair in moderating my comments. I used to provide a link in my Blog to yours as a 'Controversial Blog' ......NOT ANY MORE, the fact is that you do accept views from the other side of the fence to be published on your Blog, and that it how it ought to be, fair enough.

14 January, 2007 20:22  
Blogger the shadow said...

Why do they need to build a road THROUGH or anywhere adajacent to The Gardens anyhow? There are already 2 interchanges there on either side of Ibn Battuta Mall; 1 for the Jebel Ali Village and the other to feed Ibn Battuta and the Discovery Gardens. Why doesn't the RTA just enlarge one of those roads instead?

The Jebel Ali Village turnoff is ripe for renovation - it seems it's about to crumble to dust at any moment thanks to the endless caravans of lorries that leak water on it every night, washing the asphalt slowly away. And there's not much in the way of that interchange - a tiny Golf course, a rickety old Choithrams and a bunch of rickety old villas. So wouldn't it make much mroe sense to plow through ancient old Jebel Ali Village, which has been rumored to be "about-to-be-demolished" for some time, as opposed to chucking the relatively young spring chicken Gardens into the deep fat fryer?

It would make the most sense to expand the Ibn Battuta interchange though, or simply let it stand and build another "exit to SZR road" expansion parallel to it without having to demolish that road one bit...after all, there's nothing but DUST on that side of the road.

Oh well, living here has made me used to wrapping my lil' brain around illogical ideas-made-reality-by-invisible-hand-decree; I suppose there's some logic to demolishing 16 almost-new buildings, digging up half of the access roads to the development and leaving the clogged interchanges just as they are-even though said logic completely eludes me.

15 January, 2007 00:00  

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