x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Masseuses targeted over illegal sex trade in Dubai

Police will also monitor massage centres as part of a crackdown on illegal sexual activity in the city.

DUBAI // Police are targeting masseuses offering in-home services in an effort to curb illegal sexual activity in the city.

Dubai Police and the Department of Economic Development (DED) met in recent weeks to initiate increased policing and clamp down on the practice.

"Illegal massage operators are targeting people in their homes with business cards to promote sexual activities," said Colonel Jamal al Jallaf, the director general of the Dubai Police Crime Control Section and the Criminal Investigation Department.

Omar bu Shihab, the DED executive director of commercial inspections and consumer protection, said: "The DED is currently working with police to stop these activities. Any reports that we receive are immediately transferred to Dubai Police, who in turn take the necessary legal procedures."

Illegal massage services performed in spas will also be targeted, according to Col al Jallaf. "The public should beware of these places. According to regulations, spa centres who cater for men and women should have men massaging men and women massaging women. Further to that, they should have the necessary qualifications," he said.

"People should report these activities to police or the DED," said Col al Jallaf. "After investigations are carried forward, we obtain search and arrest warrants from the Public Prosecutors office and detain operators."

Col al Jallaf added that police patrols would also be sent to locations where these services were offered.

Mr bu Shihab said the DED's jurisdiction had been extended recently to Dubai's International City development, where such spas were rife.

"In the past, we were not able to conduct inspections there due to the fact that it is a private development. But after agreements with the developer, we are now allowed to inspect centres there," he said.

"These services are prostitution services presented under the guise of massage therapy - the mediums used by them can also lead to prosecution."

Legitimate businesses had also felt the effects of the clampdown, said Rana el Eid, a women's health spa owner in Dubai.

"Since the Government started putting an end to illegal services, they have stopped issuing licences for health spas and massage centres," she said.

Ms el Eid said that she attempted to open new branches but licence issuance had been suspended for some time. "From time to time we do get calls for extra services, but we turn such clients away as we do not cater for such things. The problem is if there is a demand, there will be a supply."

amustafa@thenational.ae