'I hate lakes' boss hits back at criticism

Head of JLT defends comments, inviting community members to visit his office
By Courtney Trenwith
Sun 14 Jul 2013 09:30 AM

The boss of Dubai's Jumeirah Lakes Towers, who last week revealed he “hates lakes”, has invited unhappy community members to visit his office and express their concerns about filling in more of the manmade waterways.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman of Dubai Multi Commodities Centre, which manages the master community, said he would prefer more community facilities or a mini gold souk.  

“It’s no secret, I hate lakes. I love more efficiency,” he said. “The only lake that I think will be untouchable is the one facing the Dubai Diamond Exchange [because of] the view.” One of the lakes already is being turned into a park with a basketball court and other facilities.

Bin Sulayem said there were no plans yet for the other three lakes but said they would not be covered with towers.

Published on ArabianBusiness.com on Thursday, his opinion sparked heated debate among readers, with dozens commenting on the website.

“We bought lake front property - not something with a cheap, tacky gold souk that nobody would want. Talk to your community first and don't just come up with comments like this on a whim!” wrote Michael.

Faisal said Bin Sulayem’s idea was “appalling”. “So many people (including myself) invested in Waterfront properties in JLT. As a resident and owner, I expect to have a say in how the community is changed and I'm pretty sure a lot of other people would voice the same!” he wrote on ArabianBusiness.com

“Just because Mr Sulayem doesn't like lakes doesn't mean they should be removed. We don't like Palm District Cooling (and their exorbitant almost exploitative cooling costs but we live with those too, don't we?)

“Perhaps a petition is in order to stop Mr Sulayem making drastic changes to the master community willy nilly, as he sees fit. And if he would like to make such changes perhaps he should refund part of the money we paid to buy our properties since the community will no longer remain the same.

“Also, is it just me or is Jumeirah Lakes Towers the stupidest name for a community if it doesn't have any lakes?”

Mohamed Hanif Ahamed wrote: “Anything other than lake will definitely look ugly and it will spoil the whole feel and look of JLT... If this is considered because of maintenance cost of lakes or to generate more income from those beautiful lakes.. then it is unethical. All those who bought properties here have lakes and lake views in their mind and now after reading this, they all must have shaken like me.”

In an unusual move, Bin Sulayem responded directly to the comments on ArabianBusiness.com.

“...all of you are more than welcome to come by my office or I can visit you in JLT to see what really grieves you, the article states my opinion, not what will be done,” he wrote.

“No other lake would be touched unless the community wants a change or an addition to the JLT community.

“If you don't live in JLT, I don't follow why you would be upset about any of this especially when we are getting recommendations from the JLT community to change all the lakes into parks which I have reservations because if the other lakes are to be changed they should be adding more diversity and value to the JLT community.

“Your constructive thoughts are very much welcomed...”

In another post, he attempted to assure concerned residents and investors they would be consulted before any more lakes were filled in.

“No lake will be touched unless there is buy in from the community. That's how I work. Not on the whim, which seems more appropriate to describe your comments which are on the whim to say the least,” he said.

Bin Sulayem’s participation in the online debate appeared to calm some fears with readers posting their gratitude for his apparent willingness to listen to the community.

“This is a great idea. Just think how much better JLT would be if you had a massive central park like community resource in the middle of all the towers, instead of the useless stagnant water that is there how. I would definitely look at buying in JLT if they did this. The property would become much more valuable with such an amenity,” Sam wrote.

“You could actually walk across the park to get to the metro, other buildings. This would build a more vibrant ground level retail scene and sense of community.”

However, most comments remained opposed to changing the lakes.

“We love living in JLT. Our lake view apartment took seven years to build and another year to have the lake filled. The view of the lake is breathtaking and the night reflections really beautiful. The roads and unfinished buildings need to be addressed first, before anyone should think of changing something that is actually completed!” Vivienne barker wrote.

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