Mobile masseuses: Sex and the International City

International City has three licensed massage centres, but in recent times they seem to have been dwarfed by door-to-door freelance masseuses

  • By Jay B. Hilotin, Chief Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 January 6, 2011

Business cards sporting images of buxom beauties and contact numbers offering "room service"
  • Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Xpress
  • Business cards sporting images of buxom beauties and contact numbers offering "room service" are slipped under apartment doors almost daily.

Dubai: In her skimpy red suit, the Asian-looking girl is a familiar face in Dubai's International City. Not without reason. There's hardly any apartment door her business card has not been slipped under. But she's not alone. Dozens of similar cards sporting images of buxom beauties are doing the rounds here brazenly offering "room service" massage. Or so their shady operators would have us believe.

Shady massage services

Understandably, the residents are not amused, with many alleging that the unnamed "massage centres" are just fronts for a thriving door-to-door sex trade.

"Until now we used to get business cards dropped by pest control agents and packers and movers. But this is something new. I suspect these massage centres are just a cover up for something else," said Rawat, who lives in the England cluster.

Art, an American engineer however, dismisses the business cards as a pesky garbage issue. "I just ignore them and throw them straight away into the bin. You'll never know what they are up to," he said.

Dubai has more than 100 registered massage centres offering everything from Thai, Chinese and Swedish massage to siatsu and ayurvedic therapy. Most hotels also have spas offering massage therapy of one kind or the other.

International City has three licensed massage centres, but in recent times they seem to have been dwarfed by door-to-door freelance masseuses.

Pandit, another Indian resident said the mobile masseuses try to upstage each other by giving the fanciest visiting cards. "These girls, they don't have anything to do with massage services," said the father of two.

The cards purport to come from "massage centres", but when XPRESS phoned some of these ‘centres', the voice at the other end invariably made a counter-offer: home service.

Ali, manager of a Perfect Line Massage Centre in the China cluster of International City, said they follow strict guidelines and have separate massage centres for men and women. He said, roaming masseuses are "unusual" and are spoiling the business and image of legitimate ones.

"The freelancers who give away their business cards offering room service, they are not licensed - and people are taking a risk with them," said Ali.

By law, massage centre workers must be licensed and must follow Dubai Municipality Public Health Department's hygiene and decency guidelines. They are also periodically inspected.

Dubai Police have in the past advised those who want to get massage treatment to go to licensed massage centres and warned the public not to allow strangers to enter their homes, as some may be undocumented or have criminal intent.

In November 2009, a clash among rival Asian gangs suspected of operating brothels in International City left one gangster dead and another seriously injured. A samurai-wielding gang member resisting arrest even injured a police officer.

Comments (7)

  1. Added 11:41 January 8, 2011

    It’s a shame that though Dubai has made an impact on the world map, all sorts of crimes are creeping into its mainstream society. Drugs, killing, shooting, brothels, maid abuse, extra-marital affairs, nudity in malls and on streets, robbery… the list is simply endless. This is one of the main reasons why I don’t want to shift to Dubai despite falling rents. I feel Sharjah is a better place, where rules are set and followed by one and all.

    Afreen Tolani, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 09:52 January 8, 2011

    There are hotels in Dubai that offer massages to men -- often involving suspicious female masseurs. Does doing this in private make it any different?

    Chris, Paris, France

  3. Added 13:59 January 7, 2011

    These masseurs must be caught red handed and unscrupulous centres must be exposed and shut down as they ruin the reputation of genuine spas and medical centres.

    Rafi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 18:59 January 6, 2011

    I have seen rampant negotiations between customers and female masseurs in International City. All you need to do is call for their services -- may be through the grocery -- and you instantly get a woman of your choice -- of any nationality. I just pray and hope that Dubai government takes steps to curb this rampant prostitution in International City. Stricter laws and constant monitoring are a must in these areas.

    lhia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 18:54 January 6, 2011

    The government should take action against these massage centres by slapping hefty fines on them and stamping them as ‘unethical business centres’. The government should also force the community maintenance company, building owners and Nakheel to maintain the decency and security of the area.

    Muhammad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 15:29 January 6, 2011

    I’ve seen them in Jumeirah Lake Towers (JLT) in the last few months -- they drop their cards on cars parked in underground apartment basements or in metro car park areas. It’s pretty obvious that what they are selling are not normal massages.

    Mark, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:37 January 6, 2011

    Very apt article. I stay in Z-03, England Cluster, International City. On our second floor, certain activities take place every day. The flat opposite ours is occupied by some bachelors who bring in new girls everyday. They smoke, drink and disturb us constantly. A bit ahead of the flat, on the same floor, some ladies occupy another apartment. These ladies cater only to ‘big shots’. Several men keep going in and out of the flat on a daily basis. On the same floor, there is a massage centre that doesn’t offer massage services, but rather provides ‘other facilities’. I request authorities to take severe action against these people for the nuisance they are creating in our cluster. It’s indeed impossible for any decent family to live in the England Cluster in International City.

    Mohammad, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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