Dubai residents say massage cards are 'lewd and unbearable', thank police for crackdown

Families say children are being subjected to obscenity

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 21 Aug 2022, 3:25 PM

Last updated: Sun 21 Aug 2022, 11:08 PM

With Dubai Police revealing that it has confiscated almost 6 million cards over the last 15 months, residents speak of their relief that action is being taken against the menace.

"They are absolutely lewd and unbearable," said Fathima Yasmin Rafeek. "I feel like in recent times, the issue has worsened. 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."

The Sri Lankan national feels that the issue is especially prevalent in certain areas more than others.

"I see it more in places like Bur Dubai and Deira," she said. "Recently, I have seen it a lot in Qusais too. So, I would say it is common in areas where there are expats. I have also seen more of the cards near low-budget hotels."

A top Dubai Police official said that 870 people had been arrested for offering illegal services 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. The police helped disconnect 919 phone numbers found on these cards.

"I am glad that the police are cracking down on these," said Shihab Akbar, a resident of the IMPZ area. "The number of massage cards near my house is relatively low. But I travel a lot for work, and I see the most in and around Al Quoz and Deira areas. I have seen a lot on Sheikh Zayed Road too. They are just plain embarrassing."

For the Indian national, it is the impact of these cards that concern him the most.

"If someone was visiting Dubai for the first time, seeing these cards scattered on the pavements would be such a terrible portrayal of the city," he said. "Also, the environmental issues are so many. I have seen people on their electric scooters driving by and scattering at least 500 cards on the floor. It would take so many resources to dispose of or recycle these cards, not to mention the time and effort taken by municipality workers to clean the streets."

Earlier this year, the police had intensified efforts to track down locations and operators of the unlicensed businesses, as well as to arrest those who distribute the cards.

"Not only do such cards promote illegal businesses, they also contain indecent pictures that violate public morals. We are putting an end to this uncivilized phenomenon that causes hazards to motorists and pollutes our beautiful streets," a top official had said.

"There is nothing more irritating than to remove a bunch of massage parlour cards from my windshield and windows when I am in a hurry to go somewhere," said Sana Ashraf. "I am glad Dubai is doing something to crack down on it. I hope the punishments meted out are enough for the perpetrators to never repeat it again."


For Indian national Bushra, it was a matter of great embarrassment when her five-year-old daughter picked up one of the cards.

"She asked me, 'Mummy why doesn't this aunty have any clothes?'," she said. "I didn't know what to tell her. She is too young to understand anything. I just wish those who put these cards don't do it in residential areas where there are so many children and teenagers."

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