Nearly 4,000 men were evicted from a residential suburb in Sharjah after a complaint about the number of bachelors in the area.
Sharjah Municipality released the figure on Wednesday, two weeks after it began door-to-door checks in Qadisiya, a low-rise district of ageing villas north of the city centre.
Officials found significant overcrowding in run-down homes, with as many 20 people per residence.
The inspections led to "3,936 bachelors, labourers and illegal tenants being evicted from 185 homes", said Thabet Al Traifi, head of Sharjah Municipality.
“One hundred and sixty-one houses were shut down, while landlords and tenants were issued violation notices for the unauthorised partition of accommodation, sub-letting, overcrowding, exposed wiring and other breaches of the law."
Officials began clearing out tenants on September 27 after an Emirati woman phoned Sharjah's Radio's Direct Line talk show.
She claimed she felt intimidated by the number of bachelors – a Gulf term for single working migrant men with families in their home countries – in the area.
After the call, Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Ruler of Sharjah, ordered that single male residents living illegally in family neighbourhoods be removed.
Police in tactical gear joined municipal workers, while staff from Sharjah Electricity and Water Authority cut the power in some homes.
“Notices to cut off electric and water services were served to 169 more homes,” Mr Al Traifi said.
Inspections will continue to include other family neighbourhoods, he said.
Two years ago, the spotlight fell on overcrowding when a fire tore through a large villa in the Maysaloon district, about three kilometres from Al Qadisiya. A woman and her son were killed in the blaze, which injured 64 others.
Officials said that about 70 low-income workers were living in the house at the time of the fire.
When The National visited Qadisiya two weeks ago, the men there, mostly from India and Pakistan, said they had lived in the area for decades, working as taxi drivers and manual workers in nearby Sharjah City.
Although some men with families expressed concerns about their wives and children going to corner shops at night, the women interviewed said they were not worried, having lived alongside the same people for years.
Officials did not say where the nearly 4,000 men were moved to.
But speaking as the clearance campaign began, Maj Gen Saif Al Shamsi, commander-in-chief of Sharjah Police, said many employers were obliged to provide suitable accommodation for their staff, instead of forcing them to find private homes on low salaries.
"I hope that everyone complies, including companies, by evicting the workers and moving them to areas designated for worker accommodation," he said.