Dubai cleaners pick up 2,000 massage cards daily

Licensed companies will never advertise using cards, say top DM official

Published: Wed 7 Sep 2022, 1:43 PM

Last updated: Sun 11 Sep 2022, 3:21 PM

Cleaners in Dubai pick up at least 2,000 cards a day that advertise illegal massage parlour services, according to Dubai Municipality (DM).

They are collected by an estimated 3,000 cleaners from all regions of the emirate of Dubai.

The DM said, “We always call on the public to ensure that these cards are properly disposed off and not throw them on the roads.”

Last month, the Dubai Police had revealed that they seized a whopping 5.9 million business cards that advertise illegal massage services in 15 months.

Illegal services

Authorities have repeatedly warned residents not to avail these services as they are illegal.

“Licensed and approved shops and companies in this field do not promote their business and services by employing people who hang advertising cards on vehicle windows and on public roads in an uncivilized manner,” said the DM. “They promote their business through the approved electronic marketing channels."

Dubai Police arrested 870 people for offering the illegal service in 2021 and the first three months of 2022. Of these, 588 were charged for violating public morals and 309 for printing and distributing the cards.

According to DM, distributing massage cards is a clear violation of Article 59 of Local Ordinance No. 11 issued in 2003 and its executive regulations. “It may also lead to health and economic damage. ln addition to this, they lure the public to habits and behaviour that are contrary to public morals, which in turn may constitute a danger,” said the civic body.


The police also warned residents against seeking services from these centres and that doing so poses serious threats, including extortion bids. According to a top police official such centres are a front for illegal and criminal activities.

“Unlicensed massage centres deceive victims through fake social media accounts,” said Brigadier Abdullah Khadem Suroor Al Maasem, director of the Bur Dubai Police Station and chairman of the Board of Directors of Police Stations. “Once the victim arrives, they find themselves surrounded by a group of people who drag them to an apartment and tie them up to take indecent pictures (which are later used) for blackmail,” the officer said.

Eye sore

One of the biggest downsides of the massage cards is how it defaces the city.

“These advertisements are scattered on roads and public squares,” said the municipality. “It negatively impacts the cleanliness of public places and distorts the general appearance of the city.”

Several residents have complained about how these cards cause embarrassment and awkward situations.

For Indian national Shihab Akbar, it is something that directly affects the image of the city. “If someone was visiting Dubai for the first time, it is such a terrible portrayal,” he said. “Cards with scantily clad women scattered all over the sidewalk is not how I would like a tourist to see Dubai. I have seen people on their electric scooters driving by and dropping at least 500 cards on the floor. It would take so many resources to dispose of or recycle these cards.”

Mother of three Fathima Yasmin Rafeek feels like the cards are lewd and unbearable. “I feel like in recent times, the issue has worsened,” she said. “The photos have become more suggestive and those putting the cards have become more brazen. I have a 11-year-old son, so I am always on high alert. So far, he hasn’t seen any of the cards but when he does, I don’t know how I am going to explain it to him.”

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