Dubai's massage card distributors could be deported this year
Dubai - The areas where most of the massage cards are found include Karama, Al Rigga and Tecom.
Distribution of massage service cards with lewd images of undressed women has been a growing menace in Dubai. Last year the average number of massage service cards collected per day by Dubai Municipality workers were 6,000 to 7,000, but in 2018, almost 10,000 cards are being collected daily.
As the problem rages unabated, Dubai Municipality officials are holding meetings with Dubai Immigration, Dubai Police and telecom operators to impose stricter penalties for the card distributors including immediate deportation. Currently they only face a fine of Dh500 for littering. "The massage cards are showing no signs of reduction making it a tedious task for our workers. Despite stern warnings, the distribution of illegal massage cards in Dubai has increased. Therefore before the end of 2018, we could start deporting the massage card distributors to send a strong message as most of them are on visit visas," said Abdulmajeed Abdulaziz Saifaie, Director, Waste Management Department of Dubai Municipality.
He attributed the increase in the number of massage cards to Dubai's constant development and rising population. As a result, the massage parlours need to cover more areas and more number of cars.
"The massage parlours are of two types: some are registered with a trade license and some are not. If they are registered, the first fine issued to them is Dh5,000 and every other time the fine is doubled. After the third time, they lose their trade license. However we can't issue any fine for the unregistered ones. Unfortunately most of the massage cards that are collected are from unregistered companies. Many times, the same company prints out 10 cards in a different way hoping that the customer will choose one of the ten cards," he added.
The areas where most of the massage cards are found include Karama, Al Rigga and Tecom. Around 2,500 labourers work round the clock every day in different areas across Dubai to keep the city clean.
"They usually distribute those cards to earn a couple of hundred dirhams in a day. Most of the people we catch are Africans, some are Far East. Usually they are on visit visa. Some of their visit visas are expired and they stay here illegally. If caught, we just hand them over to the police," Mr. Saifaie added.
E.M.A who is one of the area inspectors from the Waste Management Department is on the ground everyday to keep an eye on the perpetrators. "They usually come riding on bicycles and casually slide the massage cards from their bags on the streets and car windscreens. If they see me in the Al Rigga area, they run away from a kilometer distance and call their other 'distributor friends' and alert them to not come to the Al Rigga area at that time. In order to catch them, I have to be dressed in casual clothes and accompanied by a Dubai Police official," he added.
Abdur Razak works at a restaurant on the Al Rigga street. "The sidewalk in front of our restaurant is filled with heaps of massage cards. We are tired of cleaning them. They are distributed at all times of the day, every day," he said.
Marimar Al Valooshi who owns a salon on the Al Rigga street, said "It's disgusting that my children see the photos of naked women lying on the street. My 16-year-old daughter once picked up a card lying near Al Ghurair and called them up for a massage. The person responded saying they would come in 5 minutes to her location and pick her up. My 14-year-old son asked me if he could call them up too. I was alarmed."
An advice for residents? Don't throw the massage cards on the streets as you too will face a fine of Dh500 for littering.
"The residents should save the labourers' effort, pick up the cards and throw them in the closest littering bin. Besides, they can report it on our toll free number 800 900 or better still report it to the Department of Economic Development at 6005455555," Mr. Saifaie added.