Luxury Dubai community plagued by snakes, open drains and mosquitos

Living Legends builder Tanmiyat apologises to residents and says work is under way to tackle ‘lots of issues’ with development

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The developer of a luxury housing community in Dubai said it is working to tackle “lots of issues” with the development, as homeowners complained of an influx of snakes, open sewers and swarms of mosquitoes.

Tanmiyat’s sprawling Living Legends project has had problems with delays, external contractors and connecting homes to the emirate’s water and electricity grid.

Among the latest issues are pests and sewers than have not been closed off.

Temporary boundary fences are being reclaimed by the desert, with sand dunes drifting high over them.

About 500 people live in the community – located near Al Barari, off Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Road – which it is said will eventually house 20,000.

“There have been a lot of issues and challenges,” said Abdulaziz Almajed, chief executive of Tanmiyat.

He said complaints about a lack of street lights, which were outsourced to multiple companies, are being addressed along with other issues.

“This is a huge community to manage,” he said.

We know there have been frustrations over the last year, but it is something we have been working to improve. We are aware of the issue with snakes and we now have a dedicated pest controller

Mr Almajed said a company would shortly begin improvements to the street signage and landscaping, with lighting and boundary fencing completed “within a few months”.

The Dh1.2 billion project was launched in 2006 and work was originally set to be finished between 2008 and 2010. The first homes were handed over in 2016 but problems soon arose with air conditioning and water connections.

Construction continues and last year, a $163 million (Dh598m) contract was awarded to Al Adnan Contracting to build six towers in the same community.

For existing residents, recent complaints include vermin, exacerbated by the lack of a boundary wall. Residents say pest controllers have been called out to remove saw-scaled vipers and other species from houses and gardens.

Jamal Guergour, who bought a four-bedroom villa in 2017, shared pictures of snakes in the compound with The National.

“We have waited long enough for this work to be completed,” he said.

“The place has become dangerous – as the security entrance is not there, everyone gets in.”

Jaswinder Singh purchased a six-bedroom villa for Dh6.3m in 2015, but has yet to move his young family into the property. He said it was only partially ready.

“I have three daughters and have an expensive villa that we can’t live in,” he said.

“We were sold this dream of a lifestyle destination.

With no external wall or boundary, desert snakes are being found in homes and gardens. Courtesy: Jamal Guergour

“There was lots still to finish inside the villa, but we were assured it would be completed.”

A nine-hole golf course was sold to buyers as the development’s centrepiece.

With Burj Khalifa views surrounding four saltwater lakes, the horseshoe-shaped course crafted by renowned designer Peter Harradine also remains unfinished.

“The community was far from finished and the golf course we were promised is a long way from being completed,” he said.

“Security is not really up to the mark – people are coming and going all of the time.”

Residents have refused to pay service charges, which range from Dh16,000 to Dh25,000 per year, until the issues are resolved.

They have demanded a written schedule of works for unfinished landscaping to be provided before resuming payments.


Unfenced areas at Living Legends. No desert boundary at the development has been causing dangerous snakes and animals are regularly getting into the gardens and villas

Some residents and investors of Living Legends have paid Dh6m for villas, and pay Dh25,000 a year in service charges but the development still looks like a construction site, with an unfinished golf course, roads, open sewer works near the school.

(Photo by Reem Mohammed/The National)

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Fadi Nwilati, chief executive of Kaizen, which manages buildings in the community, said resident service charges had been agreed by government authorities.

“Like all communities, for Living Legends we do not send out any service charge invoices without prior budget approval from RERA,” he said in reference to Dubai’s housing regulator.

“This is all verified publicly online. Living Legends is an ongoing master development, there are a lot of components still under construction and it is unfinished, including a hotel, nursery, golf course and 11 more residential areas.

“It is within everyone’s interest that Tanmiyat completes this master development as quickly as possible.”

Bouthaina Belgacem, head of marketing at Tanmiyat, lives on the development herself and said work is ongoing to rectify residents’ concerns.

“We know there have been frustrations over the last year, but it is something we have been working to improve,” she said.

“We are aware of the issue with snakes and we now have a dedicated pest controller.

“It is a case of looking at all the issues around landscaping, and analysing what is a priority.”

In 2017, about 200 villa owners reported problems gaining access to their new homes because of a dispute with labourers and contractors in which workers blocked entry to roads and property.

More than 60 security guards were drafted in to help keep the peace after fights broke out between contract workers and security staff.

Ms Belgacem tours the community twice a day to check on problems, and encourages residents to report any issues via social media.

“The security will improve, but most of the contractors were employed under the previous management,” she said.

“It takes time to resolve these problems.

“We are aware of the poor fencing around the sewage station near to the school, and we will tackle it properly in August to ensure it is properly guarded and secure.”