Cleanliness drive takes aim at spitting

Dubai's campaign could see fines issued above current Dh500 penalty even as some complain a lack of bins leaves few options.
The residue from tobacco and betel, which is chewed by residents despite being outlawed in Dubai, leaves stains when spat on buildings.
The residue from tobacco and betel, which is chewed by residents despite being outlawed in Dubai, leaves stains when spat on buildings.

DUBAI // Tobacco and betel leaf chewers who spit on to the street are spoiling the beauty of the city and will be among the targets of an upcoming cleanliness drive, the municipality has announced. Those caught repeatedly soiling the ground with the betel or tobacco juice could be fined, according to the city, which will also take aim at other unwanted practises, such as hanging clothes out to dry on balconies and littering, under the campaign that is to be launched tomorrow and continue through Nov 13.

"Spitting in public areas is something llamas do. You are different, don't spit in public areas," says one of the full-page advertisements that will be published in newspapers. The city, which says the campaign is intended to improve the appearance of the city and raise awareness of the need for a healthy environment and not about issuing fines, suggests that residents who wish to continue to chew betel leaves or tobacco spit into dustbins.

"We will inform people that diseases are spread by spitting in public places," said a spokesman for the municipality. Betel leaves, known locally among Indians by their Hindi name, paan, are usually chewed after eating. The juice from the leaves, which is red in colour, is spat out. The sale of betel leaves and nuts is banned in Dubai but they are chewed by Indians and people from other Asian countries. Many people also chew tobacco, which is also spat out.

In several parts of the city, including Naif, Karama and Deira, it is common to see betel and tobacco stains on the streets. "Such spitting is resulting in stains on walls and it is spoiling the beauty of the city. We will urge people to stop this activity," said the spokesman. A fine of Dh500 (US$135) is already in place for spitting in public, and this could be increased if people persist in the practice, said the spokesman, who nonetheless emphasised that the drive was not focused on penalising people.

People will also be asked to refrain from airing their laundry in public. "Families tend to hang their clothes for drying on balconies. This is not a great sight to look at," said the spokesman. "This campaign is to highlight the need for a clean environment and healthy living. The idea is to make a better city for generations to come." However, some residents said one of the reasons people continued to spit on the street was a lack of bins.

"I have been chewing tobacco and it is a habit that I am trying to give up. However, I have noticed that in many parts of the city there are not enough bins to use and so many spit on streets and building corners," said one Karama resident. The initiative, which will also be reinforced by radio campaigns in various languages, will be launched in the Naif district, then spread to other parts of the city.

"It will be a big launch to the campaign so that everybody in the area joins us and gets involved in keeping the area clean," the spokesman said.

Published: October 6, 2008 04:00 AM


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