SHARJAH // The mass eviction of working men from neighbourhoods designated for Emiratis is putting increasing pressure on other communities in the emirate.
Families living in commercial centres such as Rolla and Al Nabba now have to compete for flats with hundreds of single men, as well as pay higher rents as demand for accommodation increases.
Before the evictions began, the rent on a one-bedroom apartment in Al Nabba was Dh16,000 a year with no commission.
Now the same flats cost Dh18,000, plus a commission fee of Dh1,000.
Groups of evicted men, desperate for places to stay, are even paying upwards of Dh20,000 with a commission of Dh1,000.
Mutassim Abdullah, an Egyptian resident of Al Nabba, was asked for a Dh2,000 increase when he renewed his rent recently. "Every year we had a decrease in rent by at least Dh1,000, but now these evictions are changing everything," he said.
"I have looked around and the prices in all this area are Dh18,000 and they also need a commission, bringing it to Dh19,000. That is higher than what my neighbours renewed at earlier this year before the evictions."
Families also said property agents were looking to move families out and high-paying groups of men in as soon as possible.
A resident of an Al Nabba building said his property company was pestering him to sign up to a new, more expensive contract or give a date to move out.
"They tell us they will not be reducing rent this year and want to know who will be staying and who wants to go, so that they can prepare our leaving on time.
"They are doing this to us because they prefer to give the flats now to bachelors, and they have already given some rooms in our building."
Residents also said property agents are actively accommodating single men in buildings supposedly set aside for families, breaking rules laid down by the municipality.
The sheer number of men living apart from their families who are moving into these areas can be seen most clearly on the once-quiet streets that are now crowded with groups of men day and night.
"I have to leave this building next month as I find it insecure for my wife to be moving out alone, and go for groceries, because of the many bachelors standing in the building entrance as if they have no other thing to do," said Izz Al Din, an Indian resident.
"The thing is that if you have families and bachelors stay in the same area it makes no sense to say 'this building is for bachelors and this is for family'," he said.
Sultan Al Mualla, the director general of Sharjah Municipality, said that Al Nabba and Rolla were classed as commercial centres and the rules for residency were different from those set up for residential areas.
"We have differences between workers and bachelors in our policy," he said. "The bachelors can stay in any building in a commercial place but the workers or labourers cannot."