DUBAI (AFP) – Dubai property giant Nakheel — behind such grandiose projects as a one-kilometre tower and artificial palm-shaped islands — said Sunday it has fired 500 staff because of the global financial crisis.
The government-controlled developer, one of the biggest employers in the booming Gulf emirate, also said it would be scaling back work on some of its projects.
“Approximately 15 percent of the total workforce, which amounts to 500 employees, was made redundant,” it said in a statement, describing the move as “a responsible action in light of the current global market conditions.”
It is the largest job cut to be announced in the wake of the global financial crisis in the oil-rich United Arab Emirates and in Dubai, a city of opulent hotels and shopping malls which hosts hundreds of thousands of foreign residents.
“We have the responsibility to adjust our short term business plans to accommodate the current global environment,” said an unnamed spokesperson quoted in the statement.
“The redundancies are indeed regrettable, but a necessity dictated by operational requirements which are in turn dependent on demand,” the spokesperson added.
Nakheel is in charge of developing several iconic projects in Dubai, including three palm-shaped man-made islands, only one of which is completed, and a cluster of islands in the shape of a map of the world.
It also announced last month a jaw-dropping plan to build a one-kilometre-high (3,280 feet) tower which would overshadow the still unfinished Burj Dubai, already the tallest on earth.
Nakheel also develops residential and commercial property, whose sales thrived after the sector was opened to foreign investors few years ago.
Dubai top officials insist that the emirate’s real estate sector — a major engine of economic growth in recent years — will weather the global crisis, but investors appear to have lost confidence in the market which was until recently a great magnet for investments.