UAE | Society

Hor Al Anz: Boys' town

Hor Al Anz is a densely populated district in the east of Dubai in Deira and lies at the intersection of Salah Al Deen Road and Abu Bakr Al Seddiqi Road. It is sub-divided into the main Hor Al Anz which is not far from Dubai Hospital, and Hor Al Anz East, which stretches towards Al Ittihad Road leading to Sharjah. It is a working place neighbourhood and is inhabited mostly by Pakistani and Bangladeshi expatriates

  • By Mahmood Saberi, Senior Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 October 29, 2010
  • Gulf News

Hor Al Anz
  • Image Credit: Megan Hirons Mahon/Gulf News
  • Hor Al Anz is a densely populated district in the east of Dubai in Deira.
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Hazrat Shah recently moved his shoe shop to Hor Al Anz from Deira because of the cheaper rent.

The Pakistani from Quetta has a shop appropriately named Al Pakistani and sits among the rows of shiny black and brown shoes. Incongruously, the other thing he also sells is miswak, twigs from the Peelu tree which have an astringent taste when chewed on and is used by Asians and Africans to clean their teeth.

He is at first caught off-guard as to why anybody would be interested in him or his shop, specially a Western woman photographer, but then he opens up when this reporter speaks to him in Urdu.

He has been running a shoe shop in Dubai for the last 21 years. Shah was forced to move to Hor Al Anz as business has been slow in the recent past and he could not afford the rent in Deira.

Shah wears a traditional Pakistani dress — a loose, flowing drawstring pants (historians tell us that the fearsome Turkish warrior-horsemen wore similar baggy trousers) and a shirt that comes down to his knees.

Assuming that the shoes are made in Pakistan, we ask him where in Pakistan they are manufactured. "I buy these from a bazaar next to the Gold Souq," he said.

Hor Al Anz is a huge district near Dubai Hospital (to reach the district you have to take the Shindagha Tunnel) and is populated largely by Pakistani and Bangladeshi expatriates.

Forced bachelor

There are very few families here and the area is dominated mostly by "forced bachelors", those who have to leave their wives and children behind in their home countries because they cannot afford to bring them here.

Megan, the very cheerful photographer of Gulf News, attracts a lot of interest from the men because of her smile and also because of the mean looking camera she was carrying. The men shyly smile at her when she clicks away at high speed as the colourful district comes to life after the afternoon siesta. A man on a bicycle with a ferocious beard nods at her.

We reach Hor Al Anz at 4pm as shops start opening and people begin to relax on plastic chairs on the pavement drinking tea from plastic cups to perk them up and get through to the rest of the day.

A pretty, tiny Pakistani girl watching a flock of pigeons feeding on grain strewn on the pavement, catches Megan's eye. Her keen eye then latches on to a lone Arab man sitting on a stool. He wears dark glasses and looks like a cast member of the movie Men in Black, but wearing a white jalabiya, a traditional Egyptian garment.

She ducks into a salon where a grinning, toothless boy is getting a haircut. He giggles and has great fun when she gets close to him with her camera. "You are the sweetest guy I ever met," she tells Mohammad Saleh, who obviously does not understand a word she was saying. His Egyptian father said the gregarious boy is five years old.

As we walk along the length of Hor Al Anz street, we were overwhelmed by the activity around us. Afghan bakers were busily kneading and patting the stretched out dough on the sides of an oven, baking the flat naan for the hungry people who will flock here before dinner.

A sweets vendor was busy wrapping up potato samosas in paper for customers who wanted something to munch on with their tea.

A mechanic was stripping a wire with his teeth and trying to fix a dead battery while a cook was spearing chunks of marinated chicken on to a skewer. The street was full of uniformed taxi drivers streaming out from their rooms in the alleys, still groggy after their nap.

People here sleep six or 10 to a room and pay about Dh2,000 monthly rent for a room.

Zawar Ali from Pakistan drives a taxi for Arabian Taxi company. He drove a taxi in Abu Dhabi for 10 years before moving here. For him life seems to be "good'" He said he gets a good number of passengers a day. His rent was good, he said, as he pays Dh300 for the room which he shares with six others.

"The lane from here to that shop is Pakistani. Behind us it is Bangladeshi. In the middle it is Filipino. But there is also a lot of kachra [rubbish] here," says Shahadul Hussain, a chubby-faced young Bangladeshi man.

Asked what he meant by "rubbish", he ignores the question. Curiously we do not see any women in this area during daytime.

Here, video libraries have colourful posters of Bollywood movies, We Are Family and Dabaang pasted on the windows. Hollywood action and crime movies also seem very popular here.

Irshad Ahmad sits in a travel agency with a sign outside advertising visa change trips to Kish, the infamous Iran-ian free zone island across the Gulf waters, where many expatriates have visited to get their residency status in the UAE changed. Not many Indians or Pakistanis go to Kish nowadays, he said.

He used to run a garment shop in Pakistan but came here because the business went bust. "People don't come to the travel agencies any more because booking on the internet is so easy," he said. "The only people who come to us are the uneducated ones. You know this is a working class neighbourhood," he said. Two men then walk and he excuses himself.

Buses ply through this busy district of bachelors. A C3 bus zig-zags through the area and heads towards Karama. Further down the road, a Metro station is being constructed and when completed will make this an even busier part of Dubai.

Hor Al Anz is a densely populated district in the east of Dubai in Deira and lies at the intersection of Salah Al Deen Road and Abu Bakr Al Seddiqi Road. It is sub-divided into the main Hor Al Anz which is not far from Dubai Hospital, and Hor Al Anz East, which stretches towards Al Ittihad Road leading to Sharjah. It is a working place neighbourhood and is inhabited mostly by Pakistani and Bangladeshi expatriates.

Top picks

 1 Mosques: The ‘Big Mosque' is on Hor Al Anz Street near the Dubai Municipality branch office. ‘By the Grace of God we have a number of mosques in this area'—resident.

2 Restaurants: There are a host of eating places here with names like Pak Rose, Jilani, Saif, or Sind Durbar, with the picture of lamb or a plate of saffron rice with chilli-hot red chicken legs

3 Schools: There are no schools in this working class neighbourhood

 4 Groceries: There are groceries here every few metres with quaint names like Island Deer Grocery

5 Supermarket: United Hypermarket has stiff competition from the groceries

6 Salons: For some reason there is a men's salon adjacent to every lane in this district.

Do you live in the Hor Al Anz area and have a story to tell us? What is your opinion of the changes that took place in your area? Do you live in another neighbourhood and would like to tell us about it?

Comments (12)

  1. Added 18:00 October 29, 2010

    i am living in hor al anz from last 5 years, still living in hor al anz with my family, though hor al anz is costly in terms of rent,as long as i live in dubai,i will stay in hor al anz, for a beachlor its very good place , because u find lot of restruants with different varity of foods, in my view hor al anz is the best area to live-in in term of affordable & ecomomic factor, u find N number of hotels in hor al anz, with best taste and affordable prices, one such hotel is Eagal Resturant. And u Find Grocary,saloon,Laundry,restruant,cafe & carpenter shop every here and their.

    Khaja Mohiuddin, Hor Al Anz, India

  2. Added 15:18 October 29, 2010

    I Lived in Hor Al anz about 4 years ago. My office and room were both there and in the evening we enjoyed sitting with friends till late at night eating pakistani and indian dishes and the famous tea of hor al anz ... what taste and strength! Now after four, when i have time on Friday I visit the place. Every thing has changed and become modern now. but i mis my friends at that time. I thank the Gulf News team for this nice article and hope we will see another one soon.

    ZD Khan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:35 October 29, 2010

    Apart from the saloons which you find at every 10 metres or so, laundries are also equally found in every lane. Everything is so handy except for the parking lanes which are very scarce.

    anonymous, Dubai, Afghanistan

  4. Added 14:00 October 29, 2010

    I spend my 5 years of glorious bachelorhood before getting married and moving to sharjah. Hor Al Anz is one among the MAJOR PLACE to find DECCANI HYDERABADIS. Its one of the area in whole DUBAI where u feel u r back in your hometown. Turn to see anywhere U will get to see as if u r in either INDIA or PAKISTAN. Without any tension and a minute or half minute walk u can find all all the best-tastyrestaurant & cafetarias among which few running 24x7. The weekend is specially awaited in HOR AL ANZ when friends/relatives join each others and spend the time. Every moment I spend in Hor Al Anz is a Tresure I lost & moment to cherish. Remembering those Old days spend in Hor Al Anz is priceless to living anywhere in Dubai. Though one thing I must admit that spending all those years in Hor Al Anz i learnt that its not a good place for family living as 95% of the population is densely populated by Male Bachelorhood of South Asians. Whenever I got ample of time I make sure to make a short trip visit to re-group with friends for a KARAK SHIMLAAN TEA at AL GAZALA CAFETARIA. I wish best wishes to all living in HOR AL ANZ. One last thing i wanna tell that besides AL SAFIA school there is one more school named SALAUDDIN SCHOOL facing opposite to DUBAI POLICE LOST & FOUND Section at Salauddin street.

    Salam AL Jabri, Mamzar, India

  5. Added 12:07 October 29, 2010

    A fine portrayal of one of the many different cultural neighborhoods of Dubai. Dubai is not a plastic city without soul. It is a great world class city with incredible variety of neighborhoods and cultures.

    ehf3, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 11:35 October 29, 2010

    Thanks Gulf News! This type of article is a great idea, and one that should definitely continue... There are so many places full of character around this area that many of us never have the chance to see. A well written article with great photos! I am ready for more...

    anonymous, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 11:22 October 29, 2010

    Thankyou for an excellent narrative. I used to live in hor al anz 10 years ago and now visit the place every few months just to remember the past when I arrived in Dubai. Your report surely brings the area to life .

    Saleemh, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:05 October 29, 2010

    We lived in Hor Al Anz for more than 5 years, whenever we want to grocery, internet cafe, bakery, park, restaurant its just around nearby. And big malls outside Hor al Anz are are walking distance! We are now residing in Sharjah (we moved for a cheaper house rent) and its really heartbreaking for us to leave the place. Sometimes whenever we are driving to Dubai we always dop by the place, we hope that will come back in that area soon.

    Reanne, Sharjah, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 10:18 October 29, 2010

    Hor Al anz , lot old memories ..... i stayed in Hor Al Anz in th early 90's. I still cherish those memories I landed in Dubai and came right to Hor al anz where my aunty stayed , and it was an afternoon time when i arrived, I was shocked to see that, there were no people on the streets, then i was told it was a tradintion in dubai to have a seista , well eventually i too got used to the seista pattren .... I made some really good friends in Hor al anz... when ever i visit dubai i make it point to visit Hor al anz ,to catch up with some old friends and to get those parantha from Eagle reautauran and tea sold next the hor al anz post office.May Allah Bless Hor al Anz ,Dubai and the Rulers.....

    Faheem, Bangalore ,India, India

  10. Added 07:19 October 29, 2010

    nice story..Gulf News, very relevant and reminiscent, I hope you feature more of these...than wasting precious space for relatively unknown passing driving test. Thanks again.

    Steve, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

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