ABU DHABI // Residents have expressed concerns at groups of men handing out flyers for questionable massage services at a busy road junction.
Worried by the behaviour of those distributing the business-card sized adverts at the junction of Hamdan and Fatima bint Mubarak Streets, one resident filed a complaint with local government, which responded by saying authorities are “taking action”.
“I like to walk in Abu Dhabi. However, during recent times, while crossing the pedestrian crossing at KFC signal in Hamdan Street towards the Cooperative, I found a group of men with business cards displaying contact details for massage centres,” said the Indian resident, who feared a backlash and wished to remain anonymous.
“It was irritating and disturbing for me as I found them distributing these cards to all people, including families and even young boys.”
After filing a complaint, he said authorities responded saying they had inspected the area and issued an unspecified number of fines. They did not disclose the amount of the fine.
He said although some of the advertisements appear to represent legitimate entities offering healthcare services, he said he was convinced the services of some operators extended beyond massages.
“The way they were acting ignorant of the disturbance to pedestrians and the general law-abiding public, I could realise they are in serious business and keep an ‘I don’t care’ attitude,” he said.
Despite the crackdown, he thinks it will only be a matter of time before they return.
A police spokesman said law enforcement officials must be able to distinguish between legitimate services and illegal ones when applying the law. He declined to comment further.
Mahmoud Mohammed, an Egyptian who works near the junction said any flyers he receives are immediately put in the rubbish bin.
“I don’t like someone stopping me in the street to give me advertisements,” he said. “The country is safe, it’s clean, don’t disturb the people.”
He said legitimate operators should be putting their ads in newspapers if they want to attract customers.
Speaking from his clothing and apparel shop on Hamdan Street, Yousef Khoory said he sees the flyer distributors working mostly in the evenings.
“It’s men, usually from India and Bangladesh,” he said.
Mr Khoory estimates he crosses at the junction four times a day, and when approached, will accept the flyer out of politeness but will proceed to toss it into a rubbish bin.
Citing environmental and cosmetic concerns, officials have said those caught engaged in illegal flyer advertising in Dubai face fines of Dh500, with fines reaching as much as Dh2,000 in Sharjah.
In Abu Dhabi for the day, Javed Hussain, said the capital’s problem with illegal flyers pales in comparison to his home city of Dubai.
“Here, it’s nothing,” he said. “In Dubai, you leave your car for one minute and it will be covered.
“Police are taking action, but who can see them every time?”