Exposing animal cruelty in UAE

Community reporter's story of injured baboon shows a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors

This baboon was found in a bird cage, with no water or food, at the Sharjah Animal Market
Image Credit: Montserrat Martin/Gulf News Reader
This baboon was found in a bird cage, with no water or food, at the Sharjah Animal Market and had to be put down because of the pain he suffered.
06 Gulf News

Baboons paralysed in bird cages. Siberian Husky puppies snatched away too early from their mothers. Parrots that have been neglected for so long they pluck out their feathers in distress. Animal cruelty is a widespread problem — and the battle against it persists.

The UAE's federal law curbs animal abuse and animal-lovers around the country work around the clock to stop its scourge.

But when our community reporter recently came across a baby baboon that was paralysed after being kept in a bird cage in a veterinarian's clinic at the Sharjah Animal Market, her story showed us only a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors.

The reporter said the baboon was lying immobile in a cold, metal cage without any water or food. It tried to move but only succeeded in turning its head from side to side and managed a weak push with its rear legs. It had been in pain for a long time. Read the full story

Subsequently, animal-lovers Rashid Bin Hendi and Alina Lazarenko volunteered to go undercover at the Sharjah Animal Market, where the baboon was found.

There they encountered animals that were ill-treated, others that were neglected and still others that were not supposed to be in the country in the first place.

Sharjah Municipality's response

An official from Sharjah Municipality, who declined to be named, said that two veterinarians are stationed at the Sharjah Animal Market on two separate shifts.

He said: "It is the veterinarian's responsibility to carry out regular inspections of the market and make sure that the animals are not being mistreated, and that they are kept in hygienic conditions and spacious cages. If there is any suspicion that an animal may be ill, it is the veterinarian's duty to carry out health check-ups and check whether they are free from diseases or not."

The official explained that if the veterinarians notice anything out of the ordinary, such as exotic animals being sold, they are required to notify the Municipality immediately, who will then send inspectors over to the area.

"If there is anything happening against the law, the inspectors will carry out the necessary procedures required and follow up on the case," he said.

He added: "But up until now, we have never encountered any exotic animals that were being sold illegally in the animal market."


The caretakers of animals must take all necessary precautions to prevent cruelty. Those who conduct any of the following acts are considered cruel and punishable by law:

  • To deny sufficient food, water and shelter for the animal.
  • To beat the animal, causing it pain or harm.
  • To practice any violent abuse, including sexual abuse.
  • To subject animals used for riding, loading or drafting to excessive stress, irrespective of their power, age or health condition.
  • To isolate, detain or transport the animalwithout giving sufficient food, water and ventilation or if the animal is unable to be moved due to ill health. Using unsuitable means or methods of animal care or husbandry. This includes mixing different animal species, transporting animals in unsuitable cages or through means that may injure them, and dragging them from their tails, legs or necks.
  • Killing the animal in a merciless way or using slow means of death or causing them unreasonable or unjustifiable severe pain.
  • Presenting, selling or trading in any injured, sick or physically unfit animals.
  • Abandoning an animal or leaving it without care, for a long and unspecified period, unless the owner had an acceptable reason or was permitted by the competent authority.


  • Sexual abuse of animals: imprisonment lasting at least one month and a fine of at least Dh5,000.
  • Deliberate release of infected animals: imprisonment with a maximum duration of one year and a fine of at least Dh5,000 or one of the two penalties.
  • Violating other regulations can warrant a fine of maximum Dh20,000.

    Source: Ministerial Decision No 384 of the year 2008 on the Executive By-law of the Federal Law No 16 of the year 2007, Respecting Animal Welfare

Sanya Nayeem is the Deputy Readers Editor, and Mariam M Al Serkal is a staff reporter


  • Ryhan

    May 1, 2011 4:57

    I am doing a project on animal abuse for my in school and have seen so many reports about animal smuggling and abuse. So it is our job to stop to try animal abuse.

  • Ramesh

    May 1, 2011 3:42

    This is indeed very shocking to learn about the way animals being treated. Just making law is not going to protect the animal from cruelty because enforcing the law is not strict. The animals should be allowed the freedom in their natural environment. Keeping pet is not desirable. In Zoo such animals are already kept under care of experts. I urge the Govt. to put a complete ban on animal trade so that the animals could live where they belong to.

  • Mohmmad Imran

    May 1, 2011 3:13

    Exotic animals are still sold in the animal market but all you need is to convince the shop keeper. They are all stationed in the warehouse which are available for viewing once the shop keeper is convinced that your a serious purchaser. I have personally been to the warehouse and have witnessed all sorts of animals which I never even thought could be domestic pets.


    May 1, 2011 12:13

    These kind of cruelties happen here and around the world every day. I think people has to respect and love animals, they are beautiful amazing creatures and we have so many things to learn from them. I do not accept how Pet Shops in Abu Dhabi they are allowed to bring animals, such as Siberian Wolves, Boas Snakes, Royal Parrots and other kind of exotic animals that are National Patrimony of other countries. This is a kind an Animal Smuggling Business and in my country this has a penalty. The Authorities of this country should stop as soon as possible this business and give respect to Animals, that take out from their natural Ecosystem, this is so cruel. Our friends demand respect and love. I say; "NO to Animal Cruelty and Trading."

  • Kavita Anand

    May 1, 2011 12:12

    am sure its is not the first time this has happened. i have visited the shj animal market myself and have been heartbroken to see the conditions the animals have been kept in. the same is the case with posh pet shops in Dubai as well. Each time i go to a petshop to buy food for my cats, i hv seen animals with no water and their area not clean!! i strongly feel authorities should conduct surprise checks and hefty penalties must must be charged.Just coz animals cant speak and raise their concerns its not fair to ill-treat them.

  • Mark Philip

    May 1, 2011 11:52

    I firmly believe that everyone should take its responsible blame for the fate of the animal. For one, due to lack of information and education that emphasizes the rights of animals, people are unaware of it lacking the motivation to have action. Second, people are just as more concerned about themselves, and having less care to other forms of life, without knowing how essential other animals can be to take their position in the balance of nature. We missed out the fact that we co-exist together with other forms of life, and thus, they too deserved the right to live fairly like ourselves. The moment we realize that we need to protect these animals then it shall follow that we have protected our children as well and sealed a brighter future for them to live in an ecologically balanced environment. I am optimistic that if we walk abreast in fighting to save animals, we shall be rewared with a more giving mother earth.

Latest Comment

I am doing a project on animal abuse for my in school and have seen so many reports about animal smuggling and abuse. So it is our job to stop to try animal abuse.


1 May 2011 19:45jump to comments