Hang out your washing, face a big fine

Residents of Sharjah could be fined Dh500 if they are caught hanging their washing from balconies or fixing satellite dishes in their windows

Sharjah Municipality will start fining people who hang their clothes from their balconies - as much as Dh500.
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SHARJAH // Municipal officials in Sharjah look ready to start enforcing an often-overlooked 10-year-old ban on the drying of clothes on balconies and placing satellite dishes in windows. The law has been updated, and both offences are now punishable by fines of up to Dh500. The original law, introduced in 2000, did not include any penalties.

The move is intended to protect the emirate's image and environment, a municipal spokesman said. "This decision is not new," he said. "But what is new are the fines, because we are looking towards being more strict." The municipality is distributing brochures in Arabic, English, Farsi and Hindi to raise awareness of the ban. Inspectors are already being instructed to seek out offenders. Businesses selling satellite dishes and related devices were quick to express concern the ban would hurt their sales.

"I think some people are now going to start using only the building satellites and this would drive us out of the business," Zahir Khan, a 30-year-old Pakistani dealer. News of the pending enforcement has spread quickly. Nadeer Khan, a watchman in a building in Nabaa, said the landlord was warning tenants against hanging out clothes and or affixing satellites. "Some people hang out wet clothes through windows that pour water on the building, removing its paint and making it look bad," he said. "My boss has already asked me to tell any tenant who hangs clothes through the windows to stop it."

Residents had mixed reactions to the news. Hamad Abdullah, an Egyptian who lives in Taawon, said he did not intend to make the city look unsightly but he had nowhere else to dry his clothes after washing them. "It's not true that all residents can afford to take all their family clothes to a laundry or that all of them can afford to buy a good dryer," he said. "This is a wrong generalisation." Balu Singh, a 30-year-old Indian living in Abu Shagara, said he did not have the money to buy an indoor clothes hanger.

"I need about Dh70 to buy this," he said. "It's big money for me. My salary is Dh800 and I have already spent all of it. I am only left with Dh200 to spend on food throughout the month." However, some residents said they respected the decision. Mohammed al Mullah, 40, an Emirati resident ofal Qassimiya, said the ban was crucial to keep the city looking clean. "With all respect to the people who still do it, we are moving towards a modern city and a building covered with clothes just doesn't look nice," he said. "What annoys me most is that some people would even hang on balconies or in public their inner clothes. This is disrespectful."

Ajman has enacted a similar ban, but hanging clothes are still visible on many of its residential towers. ykakande@thenational.ae