Dubai sewage problem
Dubai worker processing sewage
Jumeirah beaches
Jumeirah beaches

Poo-bai: sewage threatens Dubai's beaches

Friday, November 14, 2008
AFP/Gemma Pitcher

Hot on the heels of a scandal featuring a British couple who had sex on a Dubai beach comes the latest disaster to hit the city's tourist trade. For several weeks some of the emirate's fabled beaches have been covered with the stinking contents of septic tanks. That's poo to you and me.

Or rather raw sewage. Dubai's frantic and uncontrolled development has meant that it long ago outgrew its sewage system, which is now far too small for the amount of effluent the city generates. The city has no main drainage system, so tankers collect the sewage from septic tanks all over the city and transport it to the sewage works out in the desert.

Poo queues

For the moment, the existing site is operating at full capacity and the queue of tankers awaiting their turn to unload snakes out of the site amid a haze of nauseating fumes.

"The wait can be more than 10 hours. It is hard to bear, especially when it is hot," Ijaz Mohammed, a tanker driver from Pakistan, said.

Drivers are paid by the journey and in September some of them got fed up with the long queues and started offloading into the ditches intended as run-offs for the rare showers of rain.

Slip slap, slop?

The dumped effluent first runs into the sea, then drifts onto beaches, in particular those of the fashionable Jumeirah district, home to some of Dubai's swankiest hotels.

Doctors have warned of a heightened risk of catching diseases such as typhoid or hepatitis but adults and children continue to bathe in the sea.

Tourism is the motor of the local economy and the problem could have serious consequences if it starts to affect Dubai's image as a clean city, something it prides itself on.

"It's disgusting" said Avril Harding, an expat from Sydney. "There's no way I'd go swimming on those beaches now, no matter how posh the facilities are. I'll stick to the pool in my apartment block".

"This pollution is accidental and results from the practices of certain drivers," Mohammed Abdelrahmane Hasan, head of the city council's environmental services department, said.

Dumping outlawed

Punishment is heavy for illegal offloading of waste, with the employer of any driver caught in the act being liable for a fine of up to 100,000 dirhams (A$40,907). The vehicle can also be impounded.

The local authority has decided to encourage informers after 55 drivers in one week were spotted while dumping their loads.

It has set up a public freephone number with the incentive of a 2000 dirham (about A$818) reward if the offence is confirmed.

Would this put you off travelling to Dubai? Have your say using the comments form below

User comments
Hi, dear's, I have been there twice or more, every time I discovered a new and beauty thing in this city, media most not believed for any news. I believe if I got chance to work in Dubai I will do it immediately. This time I will go to Dubai just to see the tallest building on the world and the Atlantes Hotel. Cheers.
Would this put you off travelling to Dubai S..t no !
In a word 'YES' it turns me right off.
Dear All Don't be fooled with the advertising about Dubai, back in Australia we have Heaven, Clean beaches, low pollution, natural greenery and much more. This artificial fake city Dubai is an extremely high health hazard. Local authorities here do not disclose these hazards as it will certainly stop people from coming to Dubai. What you really know about the risks of Dubai is yet to be discovered in the future. Whilst the wealthy sheikhs of Dubai continue counting their money, the least concern they have to other humans is their well being as we are considered thier servants. To all the families one word of advice before planning a trip to Dubai, please think about your children what they will inhale from the highly polluted air in Dubai. Cheers! Love you Australia!!!
No I wouldnt put of travel to Dubai based on this news, I have been there twice and it is a lovely Country, but I would avoid swimming in these beaches until it was confirmed to be clean again. Most people dont travel to Dubai for its beaches there are many better destinations for that !
Dubai has been conning the rest of world for years and of late it can't hide it's state of greed, it is the best marketed place on earth. What it does is set up a media wave that appeals to the west but on the other hand knowingly ignores the values and cultures it requires to feed the greed. They have been dumping raw sewage in the creek for centuries why stop now, reason being there is more awareness through population of westerners to bring it to attention. Of course it was an accident claims an official, everything that is wrong is an accident and the usual solution throw money at it. Hot Tip Don't go during Ramaban as you will find you can't do anything much but fast during the day or hide away while you eat or enjoy a smoke or a much needed drink of water in the 50C, forget the cool beers till night time.
Well I won't be going there unless they get there *** together, pardon the pun.
Ha what a pack of gits! millions upon millions spent on new buildings without thinking about the inevitable daily produce from human bottoms.
how could such a wealthy city not think about sewage control?! that is absolutly absurd!
Well what would you expect the place is ripping ahead and they dont stop nor probably care to look at waste management. Firstly the drivers are paid by load so to make a living they have to do probably many loads a day. The drivers are from third world countries were this practise is not an issue. They the Dubian Governing authority for the waste management should have forseen the issue and planned infastructure accordingly. They could have watered a forest in the desert from the treated sewerage. They could have watered all the luxury golf courses that they wanted with a recycled water system. They have the money we have the technology lets put it together and get ride of the Poobai situation. Ollie.