It's 3am and footsteps can be heard echoing across the upstairs landing. A chill seeps into the room as a long dark shadow uncurls across the staircase, reaching out into the inky black darkness.
If this was a scene from a Hollywood movie, Ghostbusters would only be a short call away.
But for the many residents of Jumeirah 2 and 3, this everyday reality spins a spooky yarn of its own.
Over the last one year, cases of ghostly sightings and eerie and unexplained happenings have surfaced across residents of villas across the district.
The Jumeirah 2 neighbourhood, behind Choithrams supermarket in particular, has given several families sleepless nights.
Kate Naomi, a former Jumeirah resident wrote on the Expatwoman.com forum: “I consider myself a non-believer. But we moved into a house in Jumeirah, quite an old house actually, and all kinds of strange things started to happen. We tried to think up rational explanations but couldn’t seem to find any.
“There were a number of incidents - a plate sliding across the table on its own (heavy china one), there was nothing near it and the table was not wet. The gas cooker kept turning on; my sons toys kept activating themselves (remote control car driving round when no one is near the controller).”
If that wasn’t enough to give people the willies, she added: “My husband who is a complete non-believer told me he saw someone sitting on the stairs, a woman, and both of us have seen a small boy several times... It has happened in front of others too with my best friend sprinting for the door and wouldn’t come round after she witnessed some strange goings on. [sic].”
Kate went on to state that she later learned that no tenant has stayed in the house longer than six months.
Since her posts began, the family has moved homes and are relieved that incidents have not followed them into their new residence.
Kate’s experiences are not isolated. Another Jumeirah resident, Kitty, has also narrated similar experiences, saying: “We are living in Jumeirah three near Choithrams and also have odd things happening. The kitchen tap starts running around 10pm. I can hear footsteps upstairs when I know the kids are asleep. I also get the feeling that I am being watched and then the dog starts barking always in the same place where I feel the watching is coming from. Thankfully it does not seem to be a threatening presence.”
Another Expatforum poster, Wrinkly has a similar story to tell. “We live behind Safa Park and for the past six years have been having this ‘uneasy’ feeling in the house.
“My friend and her daughter came to visit and the daughter told us she saw a shadow in the house and a woman’s figure. Our neighbours never stay longer than a year and the people previously in our house also just stayed for a year and the people before them... I don’t know if it’s just my imagination going wild or there might be something more
A former burial site?
Stories have long since circulated over the Dubai grapevine that the Jumeirah district was once a burial ground for tribes over a century ago.
Kate is a firm believer in that, saying: “I know for a fact that there are a few old burial grounds in Jumeirah; I am pretty sure my house was located on one.”
Sophie, who is also a Jumeirah resident took to the online forum to talk about her maid complaining of seeing spirits, which soon propelled into a state of spooky incidences.
She wrote: “My daughter started with these stories of “friends” telling her “secrets” so I just chalked it up to imaginary friends, although she said one of them was “scaryman” and that has been a whole discussion with her. I am overly cautious with her TV to the point that there is no cable connection in the playroom...”
But when Sophie’s maid started to complain that spirits were haunting the house, all rationality went on pause mode.
“My villa is over 20 years old and the house next door is empty a lot and in the past five years has had a few different families,” she said. “But I also know that parts of Jumeirah are on top of old archaeological sites.”
Head to UAE interact and the government website confirms that Jumeirah was once a caravan stop for a trade route connecting Iraq and Rumoured grave sites having been covered over the decades have also made the rounds, but no one has ever confirmed the urban legend.
When 'Emirates 24|7' investigated, several similar stories cropped up with one Pakistani gardener, Shoaib Khan, saying: “I have worked in the area for seven years and there is a house here that all of us avoid walking past.
You feel a cold chill the minute you enter its compound and the dogs also bark incessantly when they approach it.
“No one has stayed in the villa for years and sometimes if you are out at night, you hear noises coming from it. I am telling you, there is an evil jinn in the house.”
Khan refused to escort this reporter to what he referred to as “bhoot villa” or “ghost villa”, nor would he divulge in its whereabouts.
Surprisingly, three others verified Khan’s story and all paled at the idea of divulging the address.
In Arabic folklore and Islamic teachings, jinns are supernatural beings that reside in a parallel world to humans. Jinns are known to be good, neutral or evil.
“The ones here are not good. They are evil,” said Liaqat Hassan, an Afghani driver who resides in Jumeirah three with his employers. “We have seen her, a woman who walks with her feet twisted. Anyone who looks her directly in the face goes mad.”
While Hassan’s dramatic story cannot be proved, his fear seemed genuine as he immediately started to recite verses from the Holy Quran and walked away.
Resident Sophie did ultimately end up employing the exorcism route to cleanse her home of any spirits, mischievous or of the evil kind.
She said: “The maid has not said anything about any spirits of late. It could also be that she was making it up and thought better to stop or my husband got a bit angry with her and scared her more than the spirits.”