x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Writing on the wall for illegal flyers

Dubai Municipality will begin to fine people who distribute flyers advertising businesses or services that are not officially authorised.

Posters advertising for roommates and rooms to let in Bur Dubai. The Dubai Municipality is to fine those who distribute flyers at least Dh500.
Posters advertising for roommates and rooms to let in Bur Dubai. The Dubai Municipality is to fine those who distribute flyers at least Dh500.

DUBAI // Unauthorised flyers offering services including maids and massages are to be banned, with offenders facing a minimum fine of Dh500.

A municipality campaign is aiming to rid the city of the colourful slips of paper and plain, handwritten notes slid under the doors of private homes, taped on to buildings or tucked under car windscreen wipers.

Some residents find the flyers helpful when they need cars washed, houses cleaned and other services, but others have complained the ads are a public nuisance.

Municipality officials say the ads litter the streets. Some are not legitimate and others offer services that are not legal or may be a risk to safety, they say.

"Most of these activities are carried out by people who are not registered with the Economics Department," said Abdulmajeed Abdulaziz Saifaie, the director of the municipality's waste management department.

"Most of them are either illegal workers without sponsors or have run away from their sponsors. It's not safe for people to accept their services and it's a risk to take these people into your home."

In the first month of the campaign, supervisors will go to different areas across the emirate to collect the advertisements and send warning letters to the offenders "to straighten up their act", said Mr Saifaie.

Repeat offenders will face fines as of July 15. Those who place any type of unauthorised ads or posters contrary to the appearance, ethics, and morals of the emirate will be fined, officials said.

"The idea is not to fine those offenders but to educate them and educate people, and making sure the city stays safe and clean," said Mr Saifaie, adding businesses should advertise through proper means such as newspapers.

Some residents supported the municipality's clean-up drive.

"I am totally against this practice of letting people who drop the coupons offering their service as maids into the buildings," said Anu Bobby, from India, who lives in the Greens development.

"I don't think they are very credible and they can't be trusted around the house. If they want a job, they should contact proper agencies who provide maid services to the households. I totally appreciate the municipality's endeavour to deal with this problem."

Ms Bobby said she was also concerned about how such people were getting into her building, despite the security.

Amitha D'Souza of India, who lives in Bur Dubai, said she had received ads for pest control, electronics and nearby supermarkets, and delivery menus, although the number was small as access to her building was restricted.

The leaflets, while not good for the environment, could still be helpful, Ms D'Souza said.

"It's a waste of paper. But I think for the company, from their point of view, it's advertising," she said, adding she sometimes used the services they promoted. "Sometimes they do come in handy."

Alexander Young, a Briton who lives in Jumeirah Beach Residence, said ads for massage services or housemaids, some of them written by hand, are regularly slipped under his door.

"It doesn't really bother me as a consumer, even though I have to throw them away all the time," Mr Young said. "But it's not fair on the legitimate maid businesses that are actually licensed and spend money on proper advertising and marketing."

But he said not all ads were suitable for residential buildings.

"It's also bad for families with children when cards offering massage services, some of which is basically prostitution, are slipped under the door," Mr Young said.


* With additional reporting by Mary Sophia and Carol Huang