Single women too face eviction threat

Preeti Kannan, Mary Nammour And Joy Sengupta
Filed on May 16, 2007

DUBAI Single women say they are hit equally hard by the Dubai Municipality's (DM) tough stance on bachelors.

The DM has been strictly enforcing its decision to shift out bachelors from certain localities of the city.

Housemaids and professional working women are all sailing in the same boat as landlords serve them with eviction notices.

Mariah Kouri, who was living alone in a Jumeirah accommodation till last week, was taken aback when she was suddenly asked to pack her bags and leave.

"I did not receive the DM notice. My landlord asked me to move out immediately. It was very harsh on me and other women living in my building. The DM had also cut power and water supply to our building for two days. Our landlord tried negotiating with the officials but it proved futile," Kouri said.

She added: "I don't think it's right to evict single women just because they are single. At least find us an alternative housing in a good area before shifting us out."

Saraswathi Ganesh, a housemaid, hasn't been asked to evict her accommodation yet. But she continues to live in fear as the eviction notice may come at any time. "We (she and her roommates) work very hard to make a living here. If they ask us to shift out, it will certainly affect our livelihood," said the anxious woman.

However, some of the landlords told Khaleej Times that they won't mind having single women as their tenants.

Michael Owens, a landlord who had to ask five of his women tenants to leave, said, "the Municipality has set strict regulations and we do not have a choice but to ask them to leave. The rules now clearly say that no single men or women can live in residential areas like Jumeirah, Umm Suqueim or Barsha."

According to Owens, the officials send a three-month notice to the landlords, who, at times, fail to communicate it to the tenant, who in turn is asked to leave at the end of the notice period. If the landlord fails to contact the Municipality, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) steps in and cuts off power supply after a seven-day notice.

"Moreover, if you are getting new tenants they have to produce their marriage certificates before they sign the contract. After that the Municipality officials come and inspect the building," pointed out Owen.

Although several boards hanging outside such villas clearly say that accommodation is available only for families, the landlord, who requested anonymity said, "unlike single men and women, families do not prefer to live in single rooms in villas."

Senior officials of DM have confirmed that single women also fall under the bracket of bachelors and need to move out of residential areas.

Marwan Abdulla Al Mohammed, head of the Building Inspection Section under the Buildings Department of the Municipality said: "Single women also have to move out of the residential areas. They also have to shift to the areas earmarked for them."

Eng. Abdullah Al Hajri, Senior Manager, Corporate Communications and Occupational Health and Safety at Dewa, said that cutting off electricity connections was Dewa's last resort, after all other methods had proved futile in making the landlords address the problem.

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