Emaar: ‘We’re still investigating cause of fire’

April 25, 2017 3:37 pm

Fire in Dubai building

Dubai-based developer Emaar Properties is still investigating the cause of the fire at its luxury project under construction in Downtown Dubai, a company executive said on Monday.

Dubai Civil Defence rescued four workers from the fire that tore through the construction site of the Address Residences Fountain Views complex on April 2, 2017.

Olivier Harnisch, CEO of Emaar Hospitality Group, which is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Emaar Properties, spoke to the media at a press conference during the Arabian Travel Market (ATM) exhibition in Dubai.

He said: “We are still investigating what the cause [of the fire] was and we will share that information in due time. Our safety and security standards are the highest both in projects as in the hotels.”

Harnisch, who joined the group on March 1, did not comment when asked if he was concerned about the impact of both fires on the luxury Address brand’s image.

Emaar Properties is also the builder of the Address Downtown hotel that were struck in the 2015 fire. Emaar had at the time released a statement saying that the building and risk of fire were covered by insurance, so there would be no material impact on the company as a result of the incident.

Olivier Harnisch also said that the Address Downtown was being “fully renovated” and that it would open at the end of the year.

Emaar shares felt the heat

Shares in Emaar Properties suffered their biggest fall in more than eight months in March as Dubai’s biggest listed property developer disappointed investors with a dividend of 15 fils per share. Emaar shares fell 3.8 per cent – their biggest fall since June 26, 2016 – the first day of trading in the Middle East after the UK’s Brexit vote sent stock markets worldwide into free fall.

At the company’s annual general meeting on 17 April, Emaar Properties chairman Mohammed Alabbar said that its board will continue to place pressure on its management to deliver profitable growth.

A number of shareholders pressed the board to distribute more of its properties through dividends, although a 15 fils per share cash issue was approved.

New UAE fire code

An updated UAE Fire and Life Safety Code was unveiled by Dubai Civil Defence (DCD) officials at the Intersec 2017 exhibition in Dubai on January 22, 2017.

Lt. Taher Hassan Altaher, head of DCD’s inspection and permitting section, said the 1,384-page code – 677 pages longer than its 2011 version – has been prepared based on international references and feedback from consultants, contractors, and local property developers such as Emaar and Deyaar.

A “new connection between fire fighters and safety engineers” has been developed through the code, Altaher said.

A minimum fine of $136 (AED500) will be levied for non-compliance with the code’s new guidelines, Altaher said. An inspector will be based in each fire station who will be assigned a locality for patrol. This inspector will keep track of how many buildings have been inspected, how many comply – or not – with the code, and whether they have been fined.

Civil Defence officials said the code would include fines of up to $13,613 (AED50,000) for each fault uncovered by inspectors.

Fire accidents down

The UAE’s Ministry of Interior revealed a 31 per cent drop in fire accidents in buildings and establishments in 2016, compared to the previous year.

Fire accidents dropped from 3,388 in 2015 to 2,352 in 2016, thanks to timely response to fire accidents, alertness, the introduction of modern fire prevention technology, qualified firefighters, sustained public awareness campaigns against risks of fires, and intensified efforts to meet challenges as a united team, guided by an integrated and co-ordinated doctrine, Major General Jassem Mohammed Al Marzouqi, General Commander of Civil Defence at the Ministry of Interior, said.

Al Marzouqi said: ‘‘Fatalities from fires also declined from 23 in 2015 to 16 in 2016, a decrease of 52 per cent. Fires at households went down by 7 per cent in 2016, when compared to the 2015 figures.”

Figures showed that civil defence inspectors had visited and inspected 4,167 buildings and establishments in the first half of 2016.


Hina Latif
By Hina Latif
Hina Latif has over six years of media and publishing experience under her belt, spanning multiple magazines and a newspaper in the UAE. She studied creative writing at the University of Oxford and has a Master’s degree in Journalism.