x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Residents continue home slaughtering

Illegal butchery is a tradition and cheaper, say those who persist

DUBAI // Residents continue to slaughter animals at home despite government regulations banning unlicensed butchery, because they say it is traditional and saves money.

Sultan Al Balooshi, 23, an Emirati university student who lives in Ajman, said his family preferred to slaughter animals at home, as did many others he knew.

"Most Emirati families prefer to slaughter at home," Mr Al Balooshi said. "People have been slaughtering animals at home for hundreds of years. Why should we stop now?

"It's part of our tradition. My father goes to the market, buys the goats, and my eldest brother slaughters them himself. If he's not available, we bring along someone from the market to our house."

Last week, Abu Dhabi Police reported a sheep had jumped from the top of a five-storey building after having its throat cut by an unlicensed butcher.

The sheep landed on a parked car where the butcher finished the job. The butcher and the man who hired him were arrested.

Ali Hamad Al Thumairi, 23, an Emirati police officer who lives in Abu Dhabi, said municipality campaigns have drastically reduced the number of illegal slaughters.

"But they still happen a lot," Mr Al Thumairi said. "In the past, before the municipality began a campaign against it, every family used to slaughter animals themselves during Eid. There would be blood outside every other house.

"You don't see that much now in big cities. You'll see it more out in places where there are no slaughterhouses or where slaughterhouses aren't close by.

"They just prefer a quick slice to the goat's throat and they're finished. It's less trouble than going to the slaughterhouse."

Dr Najdat Nour, the chief veterinary officer of the municipality's slaughterhouse division, agreed the practice was more common in rural areas.

"In Abu Dhabi the problem of people slaughtering animals themselves is not as prevalent as it is in other parts of the country," Dr Nour said. "The emirate of Abu Dhabi operates four slaughterhouses. Two are in the city of Abu Dhabi, one is in Al Ain and another is in the Western Region.

"But if you take into account that the northern region of the UAE doesn't have the same facilities we have here in Abu Dhabi, then it could be a common practice."

Dr Nour warned against home slaughtering because there is no veterinarian to check if the animal is fit for human consumption.

A poll on The National's website found 52 per cent of respondents, or 317 people, preferred to butcher animals at home rather than go to an abattoir or use a licensed butcher. And the demand for meat is increasing as Eid Al Adha approaches.

Andrew Thompson, 39, a US human resources specialist, said he believed more animals were killed at home than in abattoirs.

Mr Thompson said he had twice come across slaughters while walking to work in the Zakher neighbourhood of Al Ain.

"People should take their goats to the slaughterhouse and if they don't want to do that then they should do it away from public view," he said.

Saeed Al Rothari, 26, a government employee who lives in Sharjah, said his family took its goats from the market straight to the Sharjah Municipality slaughterhouse.

"It's cleaner and safer," Mr Al Rothari said. "There is no mess for us to clean up and we know that the goat is safe to eat.

"That's what everyone should do. It's time to break away from the tradition of slaughtering at home."

ealghalib@thenational.ae