Leasing Hotels with Farook
When I arrived, he told me he had a Brit who wanted a hotel. Since hotels must be owned by Citizens, the ex-pat who wants one has to lease it (or sub-lease it). Farook was hoping to lease a hotel for about €2,500,000, though (he said) the owner only wanted €2,000,000, so he would have a quick profit of €500,000.
He asked me, ‘Should I show him three hotels, or six?’
He told his secretaries (he has about five this week), ‘Take this down.’ He had a loose-leaf binder filled with Arabic, which he was trying to translate in English.
Then he said, ‘It’s getting late, we finish tomorrow, now we eat dinner.’ So we left his office around 10 p.m. for pizza. He dropped me at home around 2:00 a.m., and said I could really help him with the Brit. ‘We meet tomorrow 7:00 my office.’
He called Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. to say the meeting had been moved to 5:00, but I was in another meeting, so 7:00 it was.
Farook met me and took me to a hotel where we were to meet the Brit. With Farook was a desk clerk from the hotel where the Brit was staying, but the clerk didn’t want to be seen pestering guests at his own hotel, so we were waiting for the Brit at another hotel. It seems the Brit had approached the clerk about obtaining a hotel in Dubai, the clerk had called Farook, and here we all were. Except for the Brit.
By 8:00, with no Brit, we called his hotel, and found him sleeping. He said he’d come in 30 minutes. By 8:30, the clerk said we should go to the hotel where the Brit was staying. With the traffic, we arrived at 9:00. Farook and I went in through the guest entrance, the clerk went in through the staff entrance, and reappeared a few minutes later in uniform.
After another half hour, the Brit met us in the lobby and led us up to his suite. The business room of the suite, where we sat, was a posh set-up with a computer, fax, large plasma TV, and boardroom table.
Farook had prepared specification for six hotels. Typical was: 5-star hotel, 24 suites, 39 regular rooms, total 287 guest rooms. Not one of the six specifications added up.
The Brit said he was really interested in a nightclub.
‘Haram. Haram. The UAE will ban all nightclubs within one year and return to true Islam. Nightclub very bad. I have hospitals, schools, lots of properties, but you must not buy nightclub. No, you must get freehold. Many people buy in Meadows, Springs, but too remote, price will fall by 90% within one year. I here 30 years, I certain price will fall 90%. You must buy in Bur Dubai. I have property for sale on Bank Street that will go up 25% a year.’
Farook got more and more excited. He took a sheet of paper and began drawing pictures of the property on Bank Street, with lots of Arablish in the margins.
By this point, it was clear that Farook does not have a single hotel available: that was just an opening to convince a Brit, new to the UAE, to part with his cash. If the Brit made a deposit on land off Bank Street, the deposit would be non-refundable.
Only the Brit has been in Dubai for 20 years, and knows there is no property available for sale to ex-pats anywhere along Bank Street.
So the Brit thanked us for coming, and we departed. Farook was a bit upset that I hadn’t convinced the Brit to ‘buy’ his vacant lot on Bank Street. Or, for that matter, one of the bridges across the Creek.