UAE | General

Sharjah hi-tech toilet has doors that open automatically after 20 minutes

You could be caught with your pants down if you stay beyond the time limit

  • By Mazhar Farooqui, Deputy editor, XPRESS
  • Published: 22:06 February 27, 2013

  • Image Credit: Mazhar Farooqui/XPRESS
  • Smart loo: The toilet, located near Sharjah Fruit and Vegetables Market, is equipped with an intelligent system that warns users when to exit
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SHARJAH: If you take too long in the loo, then this hi-tech unisex public toilet near the Sharjah Fruit and Vegetable Market isn’t the place for you. Whether you’re done with your business or not, after 20 minutes the toilet door will automatically fling open — for all to see.

To spare yourself the embarrassment of being caught with your pants down, an LED display located inside the toilet counts down your time in one-minute intervals.

After 18 and 19 minutes it even gives out a loud verbal warning which goes like this: “Your time to use the toilet has expired. Please leave, the door will open immediately.”

Tough luck if you’re still struggling.

Manufactured by a Swedish company, the Multi Automatic Public Toilet (MAPT) costs Dh2 to use.

There’s a coin slot at the entrance similar to those found in vending machines.

Operating instructions are displayed in English and Arabic and the approach is ramped, making it easily accessible for wheelchairs and prams.

As soon as you insert the coins in the slot on the information panel, the steel door slides open, leading to a spotlessly clean cabin equipped with baby changing and special needs’ facilities.

The unit also has a circular ceramic washbasin with infrared sensor tap and hand dryer. A self-cleaning and disinfection mechanism begins as soon as you exit. Should you get locked inside, there are four push-button emergency phones.

It was not immediately clear when this toilet was installed or if there are any more of them elsewhere in the UAE, but people using it seemed happy.

“It’s very convenient. You just have to follow the instructions,” said a Russian tourist.

A local shopkeeper said 20 minutes was ‘‘ample time’’ to finish your business.

But there were some dissenting voices too. An Indian man: “Time is money, but should that adage apply to toilets? Nobody wants to stay in a toilet longer than it’s necessary. If someone is in the toilet even after 20 minutes, then he may well have a strong reason for it.”

Strangely enough

Sharjah is not the only place on earth to install a hi-tech self-cleaning toilet. New York has similar loos across the city, but users have only 15 minutes, not 20, to finish their business. But there’s one public bathroom in London where you are under no such time constraints. In fact, you can view the scene around you through the one-way glass cubicle even as you keep yourself occupied. 
From the outside, the public can only see a mirrored space-cube in the middle 
of the sidewalk.

Comments (24)

Your comments
  1. Added 15:39 February 28, 2013

    Such toilets should be available at all picnic places like Khorfakkan beach, Al Ain and many more places in the UAE where families go out especially on public holidays. Time limit should be reduced to 10-15 minutes. Very good move.

    Sonia, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 15:20 February 28, 2013

    Cashing in on loo business is a good idea -- good job. And if the door opens while you are in the process you might be charged by the law for public indecency.

    Jake Jackie, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:43 February 28, 2013

    Nobody wants to spend more than the needed time in a tolilet.

    Biju, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 14:32 February 28, 2013

    There should be a system to renew and get extra time by inserting more coins rather then getting exposed in the public!

    tommy, london, United States

  5. Added 14:20 February 28, 2013

    20 minutes is just too long a time. It should be reduced to 5 minutes and the door should open immediately after that and a photo should be taken, which should be publised in XPRESS!

    nirmal, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 13:52 February 28, 2013

    I would recommend adding a shower compartment and making the service free 3 times a week for our brothers who work as taxi and bus drivers. Life will be easier for them and their passengers.

    Anon, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 13:25 February 28, 2013

    It has an emergency phone too!! So if someone can't finish the business, he can call them for help too???

    kam, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 12:57 February 28, 2013

    I think we need this toilets in holy cities like Mecca and Medina. It would be a great help to the visitors.

    Mohammed, Yanbu, Saudi Arabia

  9. Added 12:35 February 28, 2013

    The user instructions are given in English, Arabic and Urdu.

    Abdul Basit, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  10. Added 12:24 February 28, 2013

    Hillarious hahahahahaha:D

    BILAL NAWAZ, lahore, Pakistan

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