Illegal business thrives outside consulates in Dubai

Private cabbies and part-time caterers earn up to Dh1,000 a day hawing wares and services outside Bangladesh and Philippines consulates

Image Credit:
Eating out with a twist: Consulate visitors flock to a hawker selling biryani outside the Bangladesh Consulate in Al Wuheida, Deira photos: ATIQ-UR-REHMAN/XPRESS

Abu Dhabi: Two of Dubai’s more popular consulates have become fertile ground for illegal hawkers and cabbies, XPRESS has learned.

Small-time hawkers and private cabbies selling goods and services, often on the sly, are raking in hundreds of dirhams, if not thousands, everyday by targeting visitors to the Bangladesh and Philippines consulates in Al Wuheida and Al Ghusais. In most cases the operators go about their business unregulated.

The Bangladesh Consulate has more than 2,000 people at its gates every day on average. Many spend hours there without food due to the lack of cafés and restaurants nearby, but a self-styled caterer seems to be filling the void. “I sell beef biryani for Dh10 per packet. On a good day I have even sold 100 packets. They do go like hot cakes,” he said, refusing to give his name.

Mohammad Abu Salem, who had come to renew his passport and waited four hours, said the lunchbox was ‘God-sent’. “The nearest grocery is a couple of signals away and Dh10 is a small price to pay for readymade hot food,” he said.

The vendor didn’t reveal sales figures but we estimated Dh500-Dh1,000 worth of business per day or Dh10,000 to Dh15,000 per month.

Selling cochintas, a popular rice-based Filipino snack and putos, sweetened rice-cakes for Dh10-Dh15, a ‘temporary’ stall set up inside the Philippines Consulate also runs a ‘monopoly’, not far from the Bangladesh office.

“It really keeps us from starving for hours while waiting in the long queues. All I am bothered about is whether they are edible and prepared in a clean way,” said a 37-year-old Filipina office secretary.

Food isn’t the only viable business at the consulates though. Faridul Islam, who runs a grocery in Ajman, says he makes about Dh30-Dh40 on every trip to Deira or Bur Dubai. The illegal cabbie picks up customers from the gates of the villa on 132/2 Street and Abu Hail Road and does about five trips a day, earning up to Dh200 per day or Dh3,000-Dh4,000 a month on the side.

“I charge the standard rate of Dh5 per passenger to Deira and Dh10 to Bur Dubai,” says the 33-year-old from Dhaka.

Outside the Philippines Consulate 31-year-old S.D. who works as an illegal driver apparently bought a driver’s visa for Dh12,000 from an Emirati two years ago and says he has been doing good business since. “I make anywhere between Dh200 to Dh500 a day. In a ‘good month’, I have even earned up to Dh15,000 dirhams,” said Delapaz, who earned Dh4500 in his last job as a school admin assistant.

Your comments

  • ignatius

    Oct 18, 2013 12:35

    As one today the taxis have been more expensive to travel.. I think authorities must keep some better options for poor to survive...

  • Charm

    Oct 17, 2013 11:01

    The big question is...who is behind these illegal sellers? Aren't they suppose to get license/approval to sell within the vicinity? Additionally, the food were exposed under broad daylight without proper storage which can cause food poisoning. If such incident arise, who will be held liable.?

  • Tabee Jouain

    Oct 17, 2013 4:03

    Fantastic!... So why work in a puiblic hospital as a GP with all possible medico-legal complications for a basic salary

  • Wosim Tahan

    Oct 17, 2013 2:47

    What's wrong with selling biryani? at a profit of 20%? business is only meant for big corporations small businesses are set to die only huge investors are allowed to do business now a days right?

  • Louie Tedesco

    Oct 17, 2013 1:11

    Very sad to read this article. Myself and many others who are here legally and on employment visa from our companies do not earn the sums of money that these illegal service providers get. How can it be that these peddlers can hawk their goods in public sight and authorities take no action? How can the staff of the respective embassies allow such illegal trade day after day?

  • jf

    Oct 17, 2013 12:01

    What would you expect if people are already tired of waiting in the consulate the wholeday for their intentions and there are no taxi queues and no restaurants inside the consulate, people dont have any choice. If you have been to PHL consulate, you wave to walk 300meters to the closest bus stop or mainroad under the very hot sun.

  • Syed J Huq

    Oct 17, 2013 11:50

    Well, it could be illegal BUT to get a hot meal or a hot cup of tea after spending hours together in long queues on a tiring day, is really a God sent meal and tea. Person known to me went for a walk in interview at Mamzar at 11am and got his offer letter about 1:30am after completing the process of interview, slection. He was starving without any food or tea, when I called about 10 in the night he told me that he did not even get a cup of tea, I rushed to get him some food and hot cup of tea, imagine, when they are supposed to be there, the concerned employer must make arrangements for snacks and beverages. The attitude was if you want a job then better wait. In such cases if one sells food and tea (Illegally) even will get the praise and thanks from starving people.

  • Santesh

    Oct 17, 2013 11:33

    The food vendors are entrepreneurs with a great business idea and should be encouraged. Sadly, the ridiculous trade license fees and procedures here make it difficult for the average person with a great idea to start their own business, so they have to resort to 'illegal' ways.