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Speculators walking away from delayed Dubai tower project

Those who have bought off plan units in the Ivory Tower, which is now three years overdue, are refusing to pay anything else towards the development. 'Why should be pay for an imaginary tower,' said one.

Work on the Sokook Investment Group's tower began six months ago but has now stopped. Mohammed Binghalib, the director of Sokook Investment Group, said he is drawing up a new payment plan that will cover the cost of the foundations.

'People just don't want to pay,' he said. He claimed that many investors were genuine and have been meeting payment deadlines but the project has suffered from speculators who don't have finance in place.

But some investors are refusing to comply with the new payment plan, saying that with construction behind by more than three years, they fear the Ivory Tower will never be built.

Binghalib said that the delay was caused by a dispute over the land with TECOM, the master developer of the International Media Production Zone (IMPZ), where Ivory Tower is located. But that was resolved with the help of the Dubai Land Department last summer, paving the way for construction to begin.

But buyers say this is just the latest in a series of events that have worried them. Last year they received letters from Sokook saying their contracts would be cancelled and 20% of the sale price retained as they were in despite Sokook informing them in 2007 that no further payment was due until construction began.

Buyers added that they suspect that Sokook was trying to take back the apartments and sell them on for more. 'They have taken money from people and they're doing nothing,' said another.

Binghalib said the company was open to helping anyone experiencing difficulties making payments and that all money collected for the project had been held in an escrow account and invested only in the project.