x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

AD municipality to limit satellite dishes

The move, which comes a week after Sharjah announced a similar ban, is part of the capital's efforts to improve the overall appearance of the city and enhance safety and security.

The Abu Dhabi municipality is calling on landlords to remove satellite dishes from rooftops.
The Abu Dhabi municipality is calling on landlords to remove satellite dishes from rooftops.

ABU DHABI // New municipality rules limiting the number of satellite dishes on buildings in the capital could cost property owners.

A campaign was launched yesterday that would prohibit more than four satellite dishes on a building, particularly if they "disfigure the general appearance" of the city.

The move, which comes a week after Sharjah announced a similar ban, is part of efforts to improve the city's overall appearance and enhance safety and security.

A similar municipal campaign in 2008 failed to get off the ground, despite a proposed Dh1,000 fine for violators.

Property owners have been urged to install no more than four dishes on each building, and all should be positioned at a safe distance from the walls. The municipality also asked residents not to place satellite dishes on balconies or allow cables to hang along the exterior of structures.

Most new buildings feature centralised satellite systems with fewer than four dishes already, but older buildings with a mess of dishes and a tangle of wires will have to pay to meet the new requirements.

"In the cases where there are many dishes, the management will be responsible for centralising the system, and that can be expensive," said Nirmal Kumar, a sales manager for Vision Electronics, a satellite installation company.

Installers said the price would vary depending on the number of flats and the services the satellites provide. Consolidating the satellites would ultimately be the responsibility of the property owners, but tenants would most likely see an interruption in their service.

"These rules will affect the end user, not the provider," said Shafuq Haneefa, the manager of technical support at Wafa Technical Systems Services, a satellite services provider. "The general population can get all the channels on a centralised system, for example, but removing the cables and setting it up will take time."

The municipality also asked satellite dish installers to "conform to best international practices" as part of the campaign.

Fines or penalties for non-compliance have not yet been announced, but the municipality said it would "not tolerate the existence of a potential threat to the health and safety of occupants and tenants, as well as property management staff and passers-by".

One 80-flat residential building on Electra Street has at least 30 satellite dishes, with at least three installed on balconies viewable from the street.

Mahmoud Wis, the public relations officer for the building's management, Al Calily Group, said he had not been told about the new regulations but called the rules "a good thing and a not-so-good thing".

"It will cost us money, and that is not good," Mr Wis said. "But it will make it better for the city, and Abu Dhabi will look much cleaner."

The municipality said improperly installed satellite dishes are in danger of falling and can damage the waterproofing of a roof, allowing water to leak into top-floor flats.

Dirt can also accumulate on the equipment and create breeding grounds for insects or rodents.

Ahmed, a Lebanese travel agent, said he supported the campaign.

"They are an eyesore and make the city look bad," he said. "At my building, one blew off a balcony and left a big hole in the side of the building."

Although television and internet services may only be temporarily disrupted, some residents worried about losing access to their foreign - and sometimes illegal - channels.

"I have a receiver that I use to get channels in India, but if there are not as many dishes on the roof, I am not sure I can keep receiving them," said Rajesh, a Tourist Club resident.

The municipality also said it would work to increase public awareness as part of the campaign.

jthomas@thenational.ae