Dubai: Garbage-strewn terraces, leaking water tanks, stinky corridors and prowling pests have come to symbolise what once was the beautiful community of Al Shaab Colony, say long-term residents.
Plaster peeling from walls, cracks in ceilings, damaged electricity room doors and non-existent fire safety equipment have now become the hallmark of a friendly family community that once oozed life.
What once was a hub of families and children has now morphed into a haunt of bachelors, many of whom,are illegal, say neighbours.
Abandoned by many families who have been living there for more than three decades, Al Shaab Colony in Hor Al Anz, Dubai, is now a shadow of its previous self.
“All of our old neighbours have left the flats which are now occupied by bachelors. It is very difficult to stay here as the buildings are crumbling due to lack of maintenance. Some landlords care only about money that is why they are renting the flats to bachelors,” said Huneiza Mukhtar, a Pakistani who has been a resident of Al Shaab Colony since 1931.
Like Mukhtar, the handful of families that are still living in Al Shaab are there primarily due to a lack of alternatives.
“I’m here because I cannot afford any other apartment in Dubai; rents here are comparatively cheaper and it is a centrally located area. But with each passing day, life is getting very difficult here. We cannot go for a walk at nights as there are no lights in the corridor. Sending children out is also difficult as bachelors tease and we feel it is really unsafe,” said Mary J., who pays Dh32,000 annually for her two-bedroom apartment.
With an avalanche of bachelors now living in crammed single quarters -- most of whom taxi drivers and truck drivers --their vehicles occupy most of the parking spaces.
“It was always so nice and easy. We never had parking issues before but in the last few years with the growing number of bachelors occupying the place, all of the parking space is taken up. According to RTA, parking for cars and trucks is not allowed in the area but nobody cares,” said Madhu, a resident in the neighbourhood for 11 years.
According to another long-time resident, who wished to remain anonymous, most of the apartments are owned by individuals who rent them out to bachelors for higher rent.
“The owners only care about money. It used to be good when the apartments were managed by Dubai Municipality but now there is no maintenance, the water tank leaks, the terraces are strewn with garbage. Bachelors even peep inside the flats from ventilators and balconies and nobody cares despite complaints,” said a 30-year-old resident who was born in the community.