Insurance company agrees to repair fire damaged Tamweel Tower in Dubai

Arab Orient has accepted liability and will repair the building, but will not pay for personal items destroyed in the fire.

DUBAI // The insurer of an apartment building that was partially destroyed by fire last year has agreed to foot the repair bill.

The payout from Arab Orient will cover the costs of returning Tamweel Tower to its former condition, but does not include replacing items in any of the flats damaged by the blaze in November.

Surendra Nayar, chairman of the owners' association at the tower, said they were working on appointing a consultant to examine the extent of the damage and assess what work needed to be done.

Repairs will likely begin in three months, he added, although a firm schedule had yet to be agreed upon.

The fire at the 34-storey building at Jumeirah Lakes Towers was caused by a discarded cigarette, according to a police report. It ignited highly flammable cladding and flames spread up one side of the building. The cladding has since been banned in new buildings.

Mr Nayar said the damaged cladding would be replaced by a fire-resistant alternative in accordance with new building regulations, but it was not yet known whether undamaged panels would be replaced.

"We are working very hard to make it fire retardant all the way around," he said. "We have received assurances that whatever is being replaced will definitely be fire-retardant."

John Stead, a former tenant who works in engineering, said it defeated the object to replace only half the cladding with fire-retardant materials.

"From an engineering, common sense and safety point of view, the right thing to do would be to change all the cladding," he said.

"Of course, that doesn't take into account the additional cost for replacing what the insurance company would probably define as perfectly good cladding."

Mr Stead, who moved his family to Dubai Marina after the blaze, said many residents left shaken by the fire would pay special attention to how the building was repaired.

"From my own perspective, I wouldn't move my family back into that building unless all the cladding was replaced."