Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Its Official: Dubai is a shit-hole

While we expats here in Oman may find it strange that, more than a century after the Victorians showed the way on modern sewage treatment, Muscat is only now retro-fitting a centralised sewage treatment cleection and treatment system, at least we aren't swimming in shit.

Unlike Dubai.

Here's a nice pic from the Gulf News that shows what happens when you pour raw sewage into a city's storm drain system. Yum.

Dubai Offshore Sailing Club on Friday, showing the ongoing pollution caused by raw sewage dumped into storm drains. Source: Gulf News

The reason for the illegal dumping is that Dubai is still using the septic tank poop-truck system (as is Oman) in their cities. The resultant tidal wave of human excrement is trucked to the 1 main Dubai treatment plant, but the queue of poop-trucks waiting to get in and empty is miles and miles and miles long. It can take the poor drivers days to crawl their trucks along the queue. Because the queue is always slowly moving, they can't stop for a piss or to sleep, and of course the truck spends a long time for just 1 load cycle.

The temptation then to either just spray it into the desert, or dump it down a storm water drain is proving overwhelming. With the result that parts of Dubais coastline are literally full of shit. A few months ago Dubai International City was also trapped in a lake of sewage for weeks.

I guess that's one way to discourage those pesky British tourists from bonking on the beach! See also Raw Sewage Threat to Booming Dubai.

What I found shocking was that in just one month they caught 27 tankers dumping. Thats just those they caught. And the planned solution is to build a bigger car park for the trucks to wait in at the sewage plant. Like that'll work.

So, while Oman's method of hiring low-bid Chinese contractors and digging up all the streets is painful to watch, its certainly a lot better than the alternative...

Gulf News: Clean Up Act
People who tip off inspectors about sewage tankers dumping waste illegally will earn a cash reward of Dh2,000, Dubai Municipality announced yesterday.

The Municipality also revealed that the owners of 55 tankers caught this week were each fined Dh100,000. Salem Bin Mesmar, Assistant Director General of Dubai Municipality for Health, Safety and Environment Control Sector, said severe punitive actions would be taken against those who violate environment safety rules and regulations in Dubai.

Apart from fines, tankers could be confiscated for one to three months and trade licences of transporting companies may be suspended until further notice, he said, adding that any changes or addition to a tanker’s structure will result in severe legal actions.

Last month, Dubai Municipality’s Drainage Network Department caught around 27 tankers dumping sewage illegally into storm water lines. They were fined Dh50,000 each, which included cleaning costs.

Instead of dumping sewage at the Al Aweer Sewage Treatment Plant, many drivers prefer to empty their tankers in open areas or into storm water networks at Al Quoz, Al Barsha and Nad Al Sheba that are designed to carry pure rain water into the sea. This has resulted in polluting parts of Dubai’s coastline.

Municipality inspectors are now keeping a close watch for dumping between midnight and 5am.

Dubai Municipality is currently undertaking a project to reduce the waiting time for tankers at the Al Aweer Sewage Treatment Plant. The project involves construction of a 50,000 square metre parking lot that may make the dumping process smoother.

Quick swim anyone?


  1. Streets in Oman have become a living nightmare, but guess we're better of than our neighbouring realms.

  2. that is so disgusting, and here I am worrying about swimming in Lake Ontario, that's pristine compared to that. Does it smell also?

    Gill in Canada

  3. AAD
    Yep. The grass (or in this case water) is not always greener.

    Stinks. And this is just the stuff you can see - who knows what the bacterial count is in the parts that 'look' clean...

  4. Ha! Brilliant! As an ex-Dubaian resident, I'd like to say that that photo published in Gulf News is the epitomy of the concept of Dubai - expensive boats/yachts floating over the pile of shit beneath! Love it!

  5. We're implementing centralised sewage collection? That's news to me, albeit great news.

    -Omani in US

  6. Also, lol @ the ranter...you make your comment with such glee...

    -Omani in US

  7. My comment is related to water pollution, but outside the urban areas in Oman. Relatives just came back horrified from Sifa / Yiti area, wondering :
    1- why are there so many new hotels / resorts constructions there ? I, absolutely naïvely, thought that one Shangri La was enough ;-)
    2- how will the used waters of those resorts be managed ?
    3- how can the beaches there be so dirty, full of garbage ?
    I wonder what will be the consequences of this choice: favouring localized mass tourism. Oman is lucky enough to have something else to offer than big shopping malls and indoor skiing, but for how long ?
    This, added to Muscat's expansion, must be a real worry for people in charge [was the idealistic sentence...]

  8. Ranter,

    yeah, it IS a nice metaphore isn't it?


    Oman still has no-where near enough hotel capacity. Really, there are hardly any.

    Oman needs to keep its beaches cleaner. A lot of it is stuff tossed overboard from boats.

    Not sure, but I would hope and expect they have their own little mini-sewage treatment plants? Anybody know?

    Personally, long term I think Salalah is a good place: it has water. It's only been held back for centuries because of being so close to bat-shit crazy violent Yemen. Now that you have one of the best airforces in the ME and an agreed border, Salalah can flourish.

  9. Here is an interesting Thread
    on a similar practice in Oman
    that needs to be stopped


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