Watch: Workers in Dubai jump to action after New Year's Eve, spend Jan 1 cleaning streets

Meet the unsung heroes who take pride in their jobs and work to make the city spotless, even on a public holiday


SM Ayaz Zakir

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KT Photo: SM Ayaz Zakir
KT Photo: SM Ayaz Zakir

Published: Mon 1 Jan 2024, 5:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 1 Jan 2024, 9:26 PM

As the rest of Dubai celebrates the beginning of 2024 with a public holiday, unsung heroes can be seen on the streets, keeping their heads down and working hard to keep our city clean.

Street cleaners from Dubai Municipality and private entities are among those that are responsible for the city's reputation as one of the cleanest in the world. Although their efforts behind the scenes may often go unnoticed, they are the backbone of our city.

One among these heroes is Ahmed Jamal, a Bangladeshi expat who has been cleaning the streets of Dubai for the last 20 years. “This is possibly my 20th New Year's day in the city, and I have worked on most of them. It's like a routine for me. The streets that I clean... I get disappointed seeing them dirty. I pick up my grabber tools to give a fresh look to the streets,” said Jamal, who started his work at 9am to clean a stretch of 5 kilometres in Deira. He cleans the main streets and by-lanes around the 'fish roundabout'. “By the time it was 12pm, I cleared 40 per cent of the street. However, I still have the by-lanes to clean,” said Jamal.

Jamal is thankful that with this job, he has managed to get one of his daughters married, and is looking forward to doing the same with two others.

Mohammed Akmal is another expat who has committed to keeping the streets of Dubai clean irrespective of any day in the year. “I have been doing this for the last 12 years. It's not only about the New Year, it's about keeping the streets clean every day,” said Akmal, who cleans the streets of Satwa.

“It’s a moment of joy and celebration and unknowingly, people may have littered, but I am here to rectify their mistakes,” he added.

Akmal said that the cleaning works even make him healthy. “I walk for nearly 10 kilometres a day. With my headphones on, the job doesn’t seem too tiring. I take a break three times a day for tea, lunch, and noon rest,” said Akmal.

For Shawkath Ali, a Pakistani expat, keeping the surroundings clean is like hiking in the hills. Even before residents started their New Year celebration, Ali was all armed up with bags and picker tools in the hills of Hatta.

At around 9pm, Ali started distributing garbage bags to people who had come to celebrate their New Year's. “People who come to Hatta for hiking are responsible now. At times they forget their garbage bags. I go around distributing the bags so that they can dispose of the garbage in the bags and I can collect these bags later,” said Ali.

“Many people had gathered in the hills to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. Initially, I was concerned about the daunting task of cleaning up the area. However, I'm grateful that the individuals present took the initiative to clear everything and properly dispose of the trash in the bags I provided to them,” said Ali.

Emaar developers appreciated the efforts of their cleaning staff. They posted a video on their social media handles on how their staff cleaned up the downtown area soon after the celebration within no time.

The video showed the post-celebration and the crowd leaving how the dedicated cleaners restored Dubai Downtown’s shine.

The post read - “Hats off to our dedicated team for their outstanding efforts in swiftly restoring Downtown Dubai Dubai to its original state after the event. Their hard work ensured a smooth continuity of activities for nearby residents, visitors, and businesses. A heartfelt thank you for your commitment and efficiency.”


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