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Mon 28 Nov 2011 05:05 PM

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Tameer Towers set for legal battle despite new start date

Up to 65 investors in Al Reem Island still seek arbitration on stalled project

Tameer Towers set for legal battle despite new start date
Abu Dhabi has seen a slowdown in a number of construction projects

Investors in Abu Dhabi’s Tameer Towers plan to push ahead with legal action next month, despite the developer announcing work will restart by the first quarter of 2012.

“Based on the current situation and information available, Tameer anticipates delivery of phase one of Tameer Towers to be in the fourth quarter of 2013. The anticipated construction phase one restart is planned for the first quarter of 2012,” a senior Tameer official told Arabian Business’ sister publication Construction Week on Sunday.

Despite this, up to 65 buyers in the Al Reem Island project plan to push ahead with their plan to pursue arbitration against developer Tameer Holding Investment.

“Next month we are going to start our legal case in the arbitration centre in Abu Dhabi,” Thabit Al Temimi, a legal adviser with the Abu Dhabi based law firm, House of Justice, whose clients have invested in the project, confirmed on Monday.

The original delivery date for the towers was scheduled for June 2011, with a clause allowing a six month delay to December. With Tower A having reached only level 13 and Tower B at level 4, the December deadline will now be impossible to meet.

“[By] December 2011, legally, Tameer should deliver the whole project… Even if they start construction, it means nothing. My clients on the 40th floor cannot live in their apartment if it doesn’t exist,” Al Temimi told Arabian Business last month.

The Tameer official claimed the company was not at fault and the delay was due to an issue related to the project contractor.

Al Reem Island is a residential and commercial project located 600m off the coast of Abu Dhabi. The $30bn project saw its first handovers to residents in April 2010. On completion, the island will eventually be home to around 200,000 people.

The $1.9bn Tameer Towers development on Abu Dhabi’s Reem Island is the latest in a series of projects to be affected by a series of slowdowns in the Abu Dhabi construction market, which last month saw a delay to the planned Louvre and Guggenheim museums on Saadiyat Island.

For developers, many of whom had banked on Abu Dhabi to offset the collapse of Dubai’s property market in late-2008, the stalling of projects in the UAE capital is a source of concern.

Aldar Properties, Abu Dhabi’s biggest property developer, said last month it would slash its workforce by 24 percent as it seeks to match manpower to a scaled-back construction schedule.

The developer was rescued by a $5.2bn bailout by the Abu Dhabi government this year, after it struggled to stay afloat in the wake of a recession that halved property prices across the UAE.

Investment bank Arqaam Capital warned that Abu Dhabi was likely to see further scaling back of non-essential projects as the emirate moves to reschedule its construction aims.

“I can envisage infrastructure - everything from civil and social infrastructure - being completed and handed over. Things like schools, hospitals, roads, contracts on that nature are likely to go through,” analyst Mohammad Kamal told Arabian Business.

The bank described Abu Dhabi as “fast becoming the worst construction market in the GCC, after Dubai.”