Blunders are a common occurrence in the crime-striken world of ours. But the cherry on the plunder cake is what happened in Dubai. Britons who bought property in a flagship development in Dubai face losing more than $3.8m in deposits after the developer abandoned the scheme and fled the country. Some 40 Britons have paid deposits on “off-plan flats” in the Light House, a 15-storey block planned for Dubai Marina, one of the most popular developments in the emirate. Emad Ayoub, 52, who has dual British and Egyptian nationality, had sold the project on the basis that it would have been ready by last month. So far, however, only the foundations of the 94-flat block have been completed. Ayoub left Dubai last month, and work has stopped. Buyers contacted by The Sunday Times said they did not know what had happened to the deposit money they had handed over and whether their properties would ever be built such was their dilemma.
“ We could lose our money, our flat, our future — everything,” says Roger Blakeley, 46, from Lancashire, who has put down $168,000. “We chose Dubai because Sheikh Mohammed (the emirate’s ruler) assured western investors their money would be safe. It’s time for Dubai to show that foreign buyers have rights and are protected when things go wrong. The “Light House Affair”, as it is known in Dubai, is the first such scandal to hit the country. About 90 local and overseas investors bought flats “off-plan” after seeing press advertisements. Nearly half were British. Buyers visited the sales office in central Dubai, handed over downpayments of an average $94,000 per flat, sat back and waited to see their new homes soaring above the stylish marina. And waited. And waited. A senior official from Dubai’s Permanent Committee of Labour Affairs, was quoted by a Dubai newspaper as saying that Ayoub had fled after emptying his bank accounts. I wonder where in the world is that rogue hiding, but one thing is for sure that wherever he is, whichever unexplored area it may be, the Britons are gonna get him good.