Abu Dhabi: The Abu Dhabi Municipality closed down six massage centres last year for violating rules and conditions set by the civic authorities.
The municipality also cancelled the licence of a centre for providing indecent services to its customers and warned such establishments against offering their clients services by masseurs of the opposite sex.
Final warnings were issued to five massage parlours for violations that included flouting hygiene standards and prescribing medical products.
Fines varying from Dh3,000 to a maximum of Dh10,000 were slapped on violators.
An official source from Abu Dhabi Municipality told Gulf News that the municipality, in cooperation with the Health Authority in Abu Dhabi (HAAD), enforces strict regulations to ensure that massage centres abide by set rules and guidelines.
However, he said the number of violations was relatively low considering the number of massage parlours in operation. The number of massage centres in the capital has crossed 1,000.
"A massage centre may not employ men for the women's massage section; likewise women cannot be employed for the men's massage section. Equipment used in the massage also has to be completely safe and should not pose any health risk," the official said.
"The centre is also not allowed to prescribe any medical treatment for cramps, or muscle and bone aches. There are also rules to regulate prices. A full massage service session that is used to treat muscle and joint aches cannot exceed Dh500 per session."
The official added that the municipality has strict supervisory measures in place and relies on the ‘mystery shopper' method in which people affiliated with the municipality pose as customers, record observations and details and then inform the concerned authorities about any obvious violations.
He added that the tourism authority also carries out similar checks at hotel massage centres. "The centres may not advertise services related to prescribing medication, diagnosis, or medical treatments because these services concern HAAD," the official said.
He added that only hotel massage centres are allowed to employ men in women's massage sections but strict supervision is enforced to ensure that there are no illegal or indecent activities taking place.