Clampdown on Dubai's 'bachelor pads'

Dubai Municipality has stepped up efforts to drive people who live alone out of residential areas that are set aside for families.

DEWA officials check the meter of a villa that will have its' power cut in Jafliya, Dubai.
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DUBAI // Authorities said yesterday they are intensifying their crackdown on working men and single women living in three residential areas, after neighbours complained of their return.

The Dubai Municipality is stepping up inspections for a two-month period in Al Badaa near Satwa, Al Jafiliya and Al Rashidiya neighbourhoods. It is part of a five-year-old drive to keep groups of working men in "bachelor pads" and single women sharing accommodation together out of areas populated by families.

"We are increasing inspections in these areas," said Jabir Ahmed Al Ali, head of the inspection unit at the Buildings Department. "We already do regular inspections all over Dubai, but we are rechecking these areas as there have been many complaints from families that bachelors are coming back."

His department began the 60-day focus on Al Badaa and Al Jafiliya last month. Extensive checks in Al Rashidiya neighbourhood will begin from August.

About 315 eviction notices were issued in the first six months of this year. Nearly 800 eviction notices were issued in all of last year.

In 2007, the municipality first began evicting single people from residential areas, citing overcrowding and security reasons. The campaign targets all single and married men and women who are living without their families. "Bachelors have different lifestyles. There could be a social impact on families living there. Security issues also might arise," Mr Al Ali said.

Officials have previously warned against overcrowding in villas and flats and cautioned that it could result in fire accidents.

"When families live in a house, they may be five or 10 people. But, this number increases to even 50 when bachelors are there," he said, adding that this could be dangerous.

Forty inspectors from his department regularly conduct random checks. They also inspect houses after receiving complaints from neighbours. On average, the department records nearly 15 complaints every day linked to bachelor accommodation and shared villas, he said.

The municipality immediately issues eviction notices to the tenants and landlords when such violations are found. Officials also notify the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) to disconnect utilities.

Mr Al Ali said single residents were banned from living in any flat or villa in neighbourhoods that have been marked as residential.

"They can live anywhere in commercial areas," he said, adding that the onus was on landlords to let tenants know whether or not they could rent their homes.

He said the municipality will soon upload details on their website about which areas were marked as commercial and residential.

"It will be online in the next few months," he said.

Some residents said the municipality's drive was unfair.

"Where will we stay if they evict us?" asked Preetam, an Indian who works and lives in Karama. "If someone works in Rashidiya, then they would prefer to stay somewhere closer. Also, people live alone because they cannot afford to bring their families to stay with them.

"Otherwise, they should give us separate accommodation facilities," said Preetam, who works in a restaurant.

Another worker said it would be hard if she and her colleagues were asked to move somewhere far from their jobs.

"Our duty is split in the day and it's better to live closer," said Sandra Maedaguio, a Filipina who works in a supermarket. "But, if there are regular parties and a cause of disturbance, it is better to live separately."

Another expatriate who lives with his family said the main concern was noisy bachelors.

"It is a disturbance if bachelors are there," said Reni Thomas, an Indian.

"If they are smoking and drinking, it can be hard for families living nearby. They can be given a separate place to stay but it should of course be convenient and close to their workplace."