Dubai Police arrest almost 900 in 18-month crackdown on unlicensed massage parlours

The force seizes nearly six million promotional business cards

Massage cards are often placed on vehicles around city centres. Pawan Singh / The National
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Dubai Police have arrested 879 people involved in either the operation or promotion of unlicensed massage centres in the past 18 months.

The force's continuing campaign has targeted the establishments that typically draw customers through business cards placed on cars.

In figures released on Sunday, Dubai Police said 879 people have been arrested since the start of 2021, including 309 people caught distributing massage cards and 588 people breaching public decency.

Police said 5.9 million cards advertising the service were seized during the 18 months, which resulted in the disconnection of 919 phone numbers.

In the awareness campaign to alert the public about the dangers of visiting unlicensed massage centres, Brig Abdullah Al Maasem, director of Bur Dubai Police Station, said the cards not only promoted illegal businesses, but also contained indecent pictures in breach of public decency.

Dubai Police said 879 people linked to illegal massage parlours have been arrested since the start of 2021. Photo: Dubai Police

Brig Al Maasem said police had intensified efforts to crack down on unlicensed massage centres in the city. "Those distributing the business cards will also be arrested,” he said.

Police raided dozens of flats that were being used as illegal business points.

Brig Al Maasem warned that anyone who visits an unlicensed massage parlour could be robbed or blackmailed by the workers.

He said operators created fake accounts on social media platforms depicting pictures of girls to lure victims. Those featured in the images typically wore masks to make identification more difficult.

“As the person communicates with the fake accounts, they send him a WhatsApp number to share their location," said Brig Al Maasem.

"On arrival at the address, a group of people will drag the person inside the apartment and record him improperly to blackmail him for money.”

The police awareness campaign reached nearly 54,000 employees in more than 8,000 companies in Dubai through brochures and text messages.

Brig Al Maasem urged the public to report unlicensed massage parlours by calling 901 or using the 'Police Eye' service via the Dubai Police smartphone app.

He said all licensed massage centres were registered with the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing.

“There is no excuse for people involved in unlicensed massage centres, as they can verify the licensed centres by contacting concerned authorities,” he said.

Updated: August 21, 2022, 12:24 PM