Living with Big Brother
Generally, I love Dubai and I try never to rant about the less pleasant aspects of life here. But I have to tell you a little of what it’s like to live in a house that you own in Dubai. I mean, you bought your house – you handed over millions of Dirhams for it – so you own it, right?
I’m laughing so hard my wine’s coming out of my nose.
No, no no. Once you’ve “bought” a house here, you don’t “own” it at all. While you may think you have the right to repaint your walls, do up your garden, put in a pool or change the kitchen in your “own” house, you actually can’t modify it much at all without prior permission from the developer.
Which costs AED 5,000 (just under £1,000) per permission.
Fair enough, if the work meets the approval of their inspectors, you get most of this back, but the developer still pockets Dhs 1,000 (nearly £200) for the inconvenience of having you change your kitchen cabinetry to something less offensive.
And you can only use companies registered with the property developer, who have paid a fee for a permission slip to actually enter the community.
Anyway, this is all old news. Long ago I became reconciled to these money-grabbing rules. But now my particular property developer appears to be short of cash for it’s sending its lowly paid security guards out on bikes to spot any flouting of its rules and warn residents that they will be fined.
The sort of transgressions that attract fines are having a satellite dish that’s visible from the road; having a non-approved fence around your garden; parking cars outside your house overnight; not having pest control in on a regular basis; and, as I discovered yesterday, using bricks to keep your bougainvillea upright.
Yes, that’s right. My gardener’s used two bricks to counterbalance the weight of the heavy bougainvillea in my front garden. The bricks hang down the front of my garden wall.
That’s MY garden wall, just to clarify.
Yesterday, the security guard rang the doorbell to tell me I must remove the bricks or be fined Dhs 1,000 (nearly £200) by the property developer for the “eyesore” that is the two bricks.
As we stood there, looking at my wall, at my pretty bougainvillea and at the two offending bricks, I noticed that the communal flowerbed on the property developer’s side of my wall is a disgrace of dead plants, dust and dried dog shit.
If only I could counter-fine them.