Bachelors pack their bags and leave neighbourhoods

Single male workers, mostly from South Asia, were told to leave the Halwan area in Sharjah after a ruling the neighbhourhood was only for Emirati families.

A labourer cooks fish for lunch on the roof of his villa, from which Sharjah Municipality has evicted him and his fellow workers, giving them 24 hours to find a new place to live.
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SHARJAH // Abdul Karam and his four housemates yesterday reluctantly packed their belongings on to the back of a pickup truck after being told to leave the neighbourhood they call home.

Mr Karam, 23, a Bangladeshi tailor, left his villa in Halwan after Dr Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed, Ruler of Sharjah, issued a decree to evict all bachelors from residential areas established for Emiratis.

Mattresses and home appliances were piled into pickups and lorries as the men, mostly from South Asia, left the neighbourhood for good.

Dr Sheikh Sultan visited the area to ensure his eviction orders were being carried out. Work to demolish the most dilapidated villas is expected to be carried out soon.

Mr Karam and his housemates are moving to Industrial Area 6 and new accommodation rented for them by his Emirati boss.

"The boss is paying the rent but I will now have to incur transport costs from my pocket to come to work," he said.

Mr Karam said it would cost him about Dh20 for a round trip every day, accounting for more than half of his Dh1,000 monthly salary.

The move to evict bachelors from Halwan was prompted by complaints by Emirati families who said their privacy was being compromised.

An appeal to was made to Dr Sheikh Sultan while he was speaking on Sharjah Radio this week.

Mr Karam is one of the lucky ones who have found a place to live on such short notice. Ihsan Haq, another Bangladeshi national, is still looking for accommodation.

"I did not even think that this would happen to me when the month started," Mr Haq said. "We just woke up one day and were told they don't want us here and there is one day to find another place."

Inspectors attached notices on the front door of each villa telling the occupants to report to the municipality or have utilities disconnected in 24 hours.

Salah bin Butti, the director general of the Sharjah department of planning and survey, said Dr Sheikh Sultan had ordered a green belt be built to separate commercial zones from residential areas.

The municipality must also plant trees in front of homes owned by Emiratis to improve their privacy.

Sultan Al Mualla, the director general of the municipality, said all tenancy contracts in the area would be examined to ensure the villas were only used as family homes.

Mr Al Mualla urged residents to contact the municipality if they saw bachelors living in the neighbourhood.

"Our campaign in the area started on Wednesday with eight inspectors who visited a total of 140 homes," said Najji Nasser, the director of housing inspections at the municipality.

"Among these only 50 were found to be occupied by families. All the other 90 homes were occupied by bachelors.

"The campaign will continue all weekend to ensure the area is free of bachelors."