THE fate of hundreds of Irish property investors in Dubai, who spents hundreds of thousands on property that was never completed, could be sealed this week with a high-level meeting in the emirate attended by Irish officials.
Foreign affairs minister Micheál Martin, junior minister Conor Lenihan and the Irish ambassador to the United Arab Emirates have all become involved in the ongoing stand-off.
Around 250 investors have contacted an organisation established to seek legal advice in relation to properties bought in the gulf state but which have never been completed.
Meetings in Dubai, to be held today and early this week, will seek full refunds from developers who have said that ongoing construction delays have been unavoidable.
Talks will surround four lavish developments – Eagle Heights, Bermuda Views, Profile Residence and Stadium Point – all located in the illustrious Sports City complex.
While investors have handed over considerable amounts of money, the status of their properties remains unclear and there are complaints that many of these developments are no more than holes in the ground.
Alan and Karen O'Neill from Knocklyon in Dublin sank their life savings into a €440,000 investment in four apartments but say they are being ignored.
"We borrowed, we put in our SSIAs, our cash savings and we remortgaged our home as well," Alan O'Neill said.
Compounding the problem is the recent collapse of the Irish property agency Larionovo, currently in liquidation, which many blame for playing a major role in the disastrous deals.
Larionovo, while unable to go into any great detail due to its current situation, says it acted properly at all times and had tried to advise investors on what action to take.
This has not been a satisfactory response, however, for those who lost a lot of money on the eve of a global recession.
"Our initial problem was with the Irish company Larionovo. In some ways, our problem is not with the Dubai people, it's with foreigners working in Dubai," said Tony Hynes, chairman of the Dubai Action Group (DAG) which is in the Middle East for meetings this week. "We are basically getting government approval on all of this and Conor Lenihan has been very good," said Hynes.
"On Tuesday, we are meeting, in effect, the Dubai government. The Real Estate Regulatory Agency is the land division of the government. They are supposed to have done their homework with the various developers and hopefully we will know more next week.
"We are saying that basically we are out of contract and we want our money back. The developers are saying that the delays have been outside of their control and there are clauses in the contract covering that.
"We will make our claims, they will investigate them and I imagine the developers will be given about two weeks to answer the queries."