UMM AL QAIWAIN // Bachelors living in residential areas designated for families have been told they have one month to get out. Municipal inspectors have been handing out eviction notices to single men residing in family villas in areas such as Salaama, Eisa, Shaabiya, Frij Mualla, Hamriya. They have until February 15 to leave.
The inspectors are also warning the owners of these properties that they will be fined Dh1,000 (US$270) if they are still found to be housing bachelors after that date. Landlords who fail to evict bachelors after being fined also face having the water and electricity at the villas switched off. Mohammed al Mulla, the head of workers' affairs at the municipality, said these areas were for families and the presence of large numbers of single men was causing "social problems".
He said the problem was especially bad in Eisa. "We found a big villa housing about 218 workers in Eisa area, each room was housing about eight workers. "This, besides being in a place of families alone, was also in violation of workers' rights and living conditions as the municipality had stated that the maximum number of workers that can stay in a room is four," he said. Umm al Qaiwain is following other emirates in separating the residences of bachelors from families.
Dubai launched its "one villa, one family" rule in 2008, and has threatened landlords renting out their villas to more than one family with fines of up to Dh50,000. Mr al Mulla said the displaced bachelors could move to areas such as the industrial area and the old part of Umm al Qaiwain. He said a letter had been sent to estate agents warning them they would be fined if they continued to put single men in areas designated for families.
Mr al Mulla described some of the problems the bachelors were creating. "When a woman passes them, they stare at her until she disappears from sight, which is an embarrassment to some women especially in the Muslim culture," he said. Having so many men from different backgrounds under the same roof often caused friction among the housemates, he added. "Some bachelors in their rooms are so dirty, they don't want to shower, and smell. Some also strip naked in sight of their roommates," he said.
Mohammed al Zarouni, 35, an Emirati who has lived in Umm al Qaiwain for more than 10 years, claimed the mix of families and bachelors had made the emirate more dangerous. "Earlier UAQ was very safe, even for ladies to walk during the night. But now things have changed and yesterday somebody approached my neighbour's daughter and tried to grab her hand, but she was able to run away," he said. One engineer from a construction company, who did not wish to be named, said there were not enough labour camps in the emirate, leaving workers from his firm with little choice but to live in villas in Salaama.
Bachelors approached by The National yesterday said they had heard rumours about the evictions, but had not yet received formal notice. Sajeel Shaku, 29, an Indian taxi driver, said he would consider relocating to Sharjah if he was evicted because there was better bachelors' accommodation there. "The good thing is I have my car, so I can stay wherever I want, if the municipality decides they no longer want us here," he said.
Sajeel said he shares a small, two-room villa in Shaabiya with six other workers, each paying Dh1,300 a month. Their villa is between two houses occupied by families. One of Sajeel's roommates and a fellow taxi driver, Sanif Salahudin, 22, said their landlord was desperate for tenants of any description as the recession had left many of his units empty. "We have already told him we are going to pay just Dh1,000 from next month and he accepted. Now if they evict us, where will he get families?"