Tourists who use Dubai’s beaches run the risk of contracting serious illnesses – including typhoid and hepatitis – as the Middle Eastern resort struggles to combat a tidal wave of illegally dumped sewage, doctors have warned.
Authorities in the emirate have come under fire from hoteliers and business owners for failing to address the problem, which is blighting beaches in the upmarket Jumeirah district, where most tourists stay.
Human waste from Dubai’s 1.3m inhabitants is collected daily from thousands of septic tanks across the city and driven by hundreds of tankers to the emirate’s only sewage treatment plant, in the desert at Al-Awir.
At least, that’s what should happen. In reality, the effluent is being illegally dumped into storm drains or hidden behind dunes in the desert by tanker drivers unwilling to join the 10-hour queues at the plant.
Last week, Jumeirah’s sailing club was forced to reschedule a regatta after tests showed dangerous levels of faecal contamination in the water. Keith Mutch, manager of the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, said the situation was “disgusting”.
“It’s happening every day,” he said. “Once again, the club and the harbour smell like a sewage farm. The harbour is black and stinks, and the public beach is swamped with sewage and black sludge. I have again stopped all sailing and swimming on the beach.”
“Because rain storms are so infrequent, the drains will remain contaminated for many months to come,” said expat Thomas Aldredge. “Considering the hot weather, there are many diseases that could begin to flourish, including cholera. It is shocking that Dubai does not seem to have the will to address this most built to accommodate Dubai’s infrequent rainfall – run straight into the sea, and the sewage tipped into them, often miles from the coast, fundamental of problems.” quickly contaminates inshore waters before washing up on the beaches.
All that money for fancy headline grabbing front line projects but obviously little thought given to necessary infrastructure. This used to be the case in London too until the parliamentarians of the Victorian age found the smell unacceptable. They then laid the groundwork for a fantastic sewage system that is still used today (upgrades aside).
Maybe it’s time for the Dubai royalty to take a dip in the clear blue seas.
P.S. According to this post some construction work is dealing with at least part of the problem. (includes images)