13 February 2006

How to win friends and influence people

Quick – someone get Mattar Al Tayer a copy of Dale Carnegie’s book – the man needs all the help he can get!

Mr Al Tayer is the chairman of Dubai’s Road and Transport Authority, and he’s merited with these pearls of wisdom and diplomacy in today’s 7 Days, on Page 2 of the printed edition and here on the website.

It’s to do with the plans for the 6 lane highway through Emaar’s Emirates Hills development.

In summary, here are his comments as reported in 7 Days.

“….the plans were now finalised, but that residents were welcome to write down their thoughts and leave them in a suggestion box.”

“….his staff would be happy to meet the ISC (Emirates Hills’ Interim Steering Committee) to explain the scheme, but would not ask for their opinions or change the plans because it’s “none of their business”.”

““We are not in America or Europe where approval for projects can take up to five years because everyone has to be consulted.”

““We only deal with the developers who own the land and I’m sure they informed their residents. It’s not our job to ask for every resident’s permission.”

Interesting comment, that last one.

I’m sure that Emaar would have let the property buyers know about the road development beforehand, aren’t you? That would explain why so many of them are only now getting upset as the news is being made public. That’s why they paid good money for their properties, only to now find them devalued, due to the highway that will be running along their property boundaries – attractively bordered with buffer zones and sound barriers.

Emaar’s response was to say, “…..that it respects the right of the authorities to propose improvements to the road network, and would “work with the authorities and home owners’ representatives to ensure that any effects and inconvenience of the road construction is kept to a minimum”.”

In other words, the deal is done – the Dubai RTA will sit quietly, smile politely, listen benignly, and possibly even thank you for meeting with them, but they'd prefer that you don’t bother to talk to them, because nothing is going to change.

Mr Al Tayer’s suggestion box will be buried as a time capsule in the foundations of the highway – to be found in a few thousand years by Nakheel’s intergalactic property developers as they build a lunar highway that will transport residents to The Palm Moonbase, located on the shores of the Mare Humorum and which will be “able to be seen from Earth


CG said...

I did laugh a little inside when I read Al Tayers comments regarding meeting with residents, but at least he said it as it is. They will NOT change their minds and that is that. No false hope.
On another note, plenty of people who buy property here are advised beforehand by the critics and told that it is all so new here in Dubai, and with little or no property laws in place it really is a risky business. I would never buy any of those properties because not owning the land underneath it would be a serious worry to me.
The house/land that I do own and live in is currently going to be exposed to a massive flyover that is in the making. I do not know if it is going to reduce the value of my property, but I think if the traffic flow is better then the value will go up. No-one in my area has been consulted, neither has anyone complained (as best I know). It is the way here in Dubai.

nzm said...

Yes - it's the way that it is in Dubai - and in other parts of the world too.

In some respects, it's great that they can make decisions and act upon them quickly.

J tells of the new and much needed Berlin airport that has been held up in litigation and protests for years now, and has resulted in Berlin as the capital of Germany, having 2 grotty airports serving it, and no proper International Airport.

It's very much Caveat Emptor - Buyer Beware - anywhere in the world!

But I doubt that Al Tayer's comments are going to make any property investors think seriously about buying here - coupled with the lack of property laws!

Seabee said...

That prolific correspondent to 7 Days, 'Name supplied' has written to them again - actually several letters published today. Anyway, this particular letter says:

"I checked with both Emaar and Nakheel on the plans for the surrounding are. I was given the Emirates Living Master plan and the Nakheel DMCC planI was assured that Dubai Municipality would not be able to build a highway as this was allocated as a residential are..."
Let's face it, if they wanted to they'd demolish anything that stood where they wanted to put something else.

For once an official told it like it is!

nzm said...

Assurances are nothing!

I agree with the guy's honesty, but it sure isn't helping the Emirates Hills' home owners come to terms with the decision! Mind you, there's probably no way to gently and tactfully break this news to them in a way that they'd understand.

It reminds me of "The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy" - Earth being destroyed to make way for the Intergalactic Highway!

Mattar Al Tayer must have taken lessons from the The Vogons. It remains to be seen if he's also a poet! :-)

Keefieboy said...

Emaar themselves should be jumping up and down about this - Emirates Hills was really their first baby, and to see their promises of suburban tranquility trashed like this is just unbelievable. But of course the villas are all bought and paid for and shit happens.

There doesn't need to be a Western style consultation process, just a spot of common sense - it's never a good idea to put a major road through the middle of a residential district. How hard is it to understand that Mr Al Tayer?

The arrogance is...to be expected really.

moryarti said...

This highway could be a good thing for the residents and traffic around that area on the long run ... but who am i to really know.

Its his approach that could've been more ..errmm.. political than this.

Everyone knows that big-bro doesn't care what we think or say and it always ends up by big bro doing what it wants at the end fo the day.

It just that we got used to being allowed to blow some steam for a while, maybe write a couple of angry letters to 7days, then we forget about it and go on with our lives (remember paid parking, petrol prices..etc?)


samuraisam said...

Just briefly (i'm gonna do a posting on this later on, but due to personal issues I can't delve very deeply into it);

what do you prefer?
Mohammed Omran, CEO of Etisalat, said: “We have never really acted as a monopoly. We have been competing indirectly with the rest of the Gulf, but now the competition will be direct.”
There are about 5000 other quotes I could paste here;
or how about
““We are not in America or Europe where approval for projects can take up to five years because everyone has to be consulted.”

““We only deal with the developers who own the land and I’m sure they informed their residents. It’s not our job to ask for every resident’s permission.”

At least he is being honest; hopefully this will set a trend, i'm tired of reading Etisalat and TRA "higher ups" lying through their teeth about things like skype. Be honest, no one has an IQ of 3, we can figure it out, you don't need to lie.

nzm said...

Honesty Rules - but when you're dealing with hundreds of upset people, it doesn't hurt to mix honesty with a spoonful of tact and a pinch of diplomacy!

I wonder if Mr Al Tayer is also a part of the Al Tayer Group which owns several large motor dealerships in town?

But then, I don't think that the concept of "conflict of interests" exists in Dubai!

CG said...

I think the big issue here is the voice of the 'expats'. This is all so new to the country. Expats used to come, work, have some fun, collect some money, then either retire....move on...or get shipped out in a body bag. Now they are buying property and planning on staying long term......and voicing their opinions.
Nationals are not used to expressing themselves in their own country (they use the powers of their right foot for that), so to have 'outsiders' do it must be quite a shock to many.
I am pleased that Mr AL Tayer did not beat around the bush on this one, and I feel it may be a good thing to put this road in. I do not understand WHY anyone who can't speak the local language and have no chance of obtaining nationality (ensuring an unstable future here) would buy property anyway. Sorry to say this but I have no sympathy. Anyone who has lived here for long enough will agree with me.

nzm said...

Emaar would have known about the roads for sure - you don't leave enough room for a 6 lane highway in the middle of residential developments when you could use that land to build and sell more houses.

CG - your point is valid. Yes, expats did come here, work, make money and then leave. But now if you believe all the hype, they want to encourage people to buy and stay - without the security of all the issues that you mention: owners' rights, citizenship, assimilation into a country's way of life and doing things.

All the reasons why we're not buying here - plus the prices are just plain stupid! We realise that for us, Dubai is a transit stop on the way to somewhere else, so we enjoy it while we can.

If it all changes and it becomes more valid/legal/protective for us to consider living here, then who knows? We could change our minds - we are flexible.

I hear people say that the country is new - that these things take time to change, but with the UAE growing as fast as it is, all these issues do need some quick resolution.

They need to act like Mattar Al Tayer - say it like it is, (only upfront and not in hindsight!) and then develop the country around those decisions.

But don't sell projects on soft policies or hidden negatives that make property owning and living here an attractive proposition - only to later retract them, detrimentally change the conditions or expose the negatives and expect everyone to just accept them - it doesn't create a good image.

CG said...

Yes you are right that it does not create a good image. I do not think that they need to worry too much about that for now. Even many moons ago when Dubai was considered a 'hardship' posting and the expats came, they never wanted to leave.
I havn't met any expats who have ever wanted to integrate into society here without making their own mark along the way. Do you see foreign women adopting the national dress to be more acceptable? I have not. But I have seen women in the supermarkets in their bikinis. When you see the way foreigners act in this country I would not be surprised if the locals have little sympathy for all of the life savings that have been so foolishly poured into property here.

My point is that this goes a lot further than the authorities knowing about the highway before the properties were sold. A taste of things to come I imagine.

nzm said...

I shudder and am embarrassed when I see what some women wear in the malls and shops nowadays - it's incredibly disrespectful and ignorant. I used to worry about going out in a short sleeved shirt, but sometimes I now feel overdressed in comparison!

You do have to wonder how many of these under-dressed women actually live here, and how many are stupid tourists.

There's nothing more elegant than seeing Emirati and other Arab women in their beautiful abayas - the graceful walk, the amount of expression that they can show just with their eyes - it's truly walking art!

I agree - it's going to get tougher for people here!

Today I received an invitation to something that I never dreamed that I would ever be invited to in the UAE - a wine festival! I'm still mulling over this one - apparently it's the 3rd time that it's been held.

CG said...

I don't think many of the ones I see are tourists....just because of the locations I see them (schools and the like).
Yes it is true, this causes major embarrassment for those that do take care with dress code.