'I hate lakes' boss hits back at criticism

Head of JLT defends comments, inviting community members to visit his office

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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Posted by: debbie

dear ahmed,

clearly you have a branding problem.
perhaps dont call it Jumeirah Lake Towers any more? In fact, why is it even called Jumeirah when the area is clearly not Jumeirah. That leaves it with the word "Towers". I am sure you agree that JLT needs to be more than just "Towers". Therefore a complete new renaming exercise is due.


a well wisher

Posted by: Ahmed Bin Sulayem

Dear Debbie,

Why do you feel there is a branding issue?
JLT still has 3 Lakes after all the added amenities, Palm Jumierah is only 5 mins away, I don't see you saying its not in Jumierah. Thanks for the weak suggestion of the "Towers" but apparently you do not seem know the area as good as others, behind JLT is "Jumierah" Islands & "Jumierah" Park. Maybe you should recommend that Jumeirah Islands & Jumierah Park to rename their communities as well.

Drop a coin in one of our Lakes & make a wish

Posted by: Ali

Since Mr Ahmad is kind enough to go through comments here, I will give my comments on the parking issue. As Rob said, parking is a huge issue facing many JLT residents, and is the main reason I moved out. Firstly, no resident will disagree with barriers, as underground parking should only be for residents. However what does not make sense is , again as Rob said, there are clusters where more than a hundred spaces are unallocated (because the cluster has only 1 residential tower), yet residents cannot park a second car in those spots unless they pay a large sum.
Secondly, in my former cluster (G), there was no parking for guests for more than 2 hours. You will appreciate that many family gatherings take place for 3-4 hours. Why not charge a nominal sum of 10 dhs for each hour after the 2nd hour, rather than a "fine" of 200 dhs for the "offence" of parking more than 2 hours? And on weekends 80% of such spots would remain empty throughout the day so it not as if there was no space

Posted by: Ahmed Bin Sulayem

Dear Ali,

Resolving parking challenges is our top priority, you would be so kind to email me your suggestion & constructive points to executivechairman@dmcc.ae , we are looking at ways of resolving this sooner than later, we are already working on ways of resolving the points you suggested, adding some more free car parks is one way but having your suggestions sent to us would also help.

Much appreciated,

Posted by: Sheikha

The lakes are horrible, they attract mosquitos because the water is stagnant and they are a horrible green colour and is full of algae.
I agree, cover them in and build some nice green parks for the kids to play in.
However, can you please sort out the traffic situation in JLT as a priority over the lakes as im slowly losing my hair through the stress of this.

Posted by: Ahmed Bin Sulayem

The Lakes are being looked after & new better practices will be adopted to keep the Lakes clean in the coming week.

The traffic is something I share with you, we also work from JLT, the RTA are working fast & hard to resolve all traffic areas, find them on twitter & send them your feedback they respond to all comments.

Posted by: PMS

I bought a property in Grosvenor Business Tower in TECOM C. It was supposed to be a FREEZONE office space. When recession hit and Media City started emptying out , TECOM authorities decided to stop giving Media City licenses from TECOM C , or let companies from the Media city to move there as tenants. My investment lost value over night. The common perception unfortunately is that local authorities and government officers take decisions that suit them without any concern for the people who invested their hard earned money in their projects . The decision to fill up the lakes just looks like one more change of plans to suit your convenience. It takes away from those who specifically invested in this scheme because of the lakes. Mr. Sulayem , you and others in similar positions of authority , need to make an extra effort to assuage the feelings of those who believed in Sh. Mohammed's vision and assure every body that they matter.

Posted by: Ahmed Bin Sulayem

If you notice Lake C was changed into a park with only one side that has the clusters and the other side is a road which has refineries on the other side, the overwhelming demand from tenants & retailers who have moved was to have a park, as you can see its from the community's side & we were more than happy to take action.

as far as the critics go well this my response "My personal view is that lakes are inefficient and do not bring value. This does not mean that we will fill in all of the lakes, but it does mean we will listen to the community about what makes sense. Even if some in the media think I shouldn't listen to the JLT community then I'm afraid I will keep on disappointing them."

Posted by: Rob

Who is your PR agency. Whoever they are sack them. If you don't have one, get one. Oh and maybe a research company to start all that community consultation and feedback DMCC are supposedly so interested in.

Posted by: Rob

Thanks for your reply. Given the constant interaction with so many JLT residents and workers I'm surprised that the parking chaos is not the most burning issue. I work & live here so I experience it every day. I have to walk to work even in summer but I have it better than my work colleagues who have to drive then have nowhere to park. How does this help attract investment. At home I have to rent an extra carspace. The most infuriating aspect is that there are hundreds of vacant spaces in every cluster not being used and never will be. Clearly the philosophy is - better no one uses them than given them away for free. It is not necessary to build more carparking when there is more than enough already. Overnight JLT has become as bad as the Marina. Access to parking was a major reason I moved here over 2 years ago. This has ruined an otherwise great place.
There can be no satisfactory explanation to this situation so I will understand if you chose not to reply to this post

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