Dubai Municipality proposes immediate deportation of people caught distributing massage cards by dropping them on doorsteps or tucking them on windscreens of parked vehicles. Image Credit: Pankaj Sharma/Gulf News

Dubai: Stricter penalties including a fine of Dh10,000 and immediate deportation have been proposed to counter the menace of massage card distribution in Dubai, a senior Dubai Municipality official said on Tuesday.

Abdul Majeed Abdul Aziz Al Saifaie, director of the Waste Management Department, said his department has made the proposal to the Legal Department to get the approval for amending the rules for implementing stricter penalties for the offence.

“We will also be discussing the same with other government departments which work in coordination with us in this regard to achieve our target of curbing this offence,” he told Gulf News.

As per the proposal, people caught distributing the massage service cards by dropping them on doorsteps and tucking them on windscreens of parked vehicles should be immediately deported. The Dh10,000 fine is proposed to be imposed on licensed massage parlours indulging in this illegal activity. Currently, the fine is just Dh500.

Al Saifaie said some of the distributors are usually violators of the residency law. “They don’t have resident visas or they are here on visit visas looking for jobs. So, our proposal is to deport them immediately.”

While many massage services advertising through such cards featuring scantily clad women are run illegally by individuals, authorities have also traced licensed firms assigning people to distribute their advert cards.

Such offenders will face the proposed Dh10,000 fine on their trade licence. “We are also proposing to block their trade licence,” said Al Saifaie.

The harsh steps have been proposed in view of the authorities collecting millions of massage cards littered across the emirate and a plethora of complaints from residents.

Seeing massage service cards on car windows “annoys the public and defaces the aesthetic appearance of the city”, he noted.

The department has been carrying out intensive campaigns to crack down on the menace for years. In April this year, Gulf News reported that a crackdown led to the seizure of more than seven million massage cards that were to be placed on car windows.

In coordination with the police, the civic body had carried out the campaign in several areas in Dubai. In the districts of Al Nahda, Al Ghusais, Al Rigga, Abu Hail, and Hor Al Anz, authorities then issued 57 fines against massage centres which were “illegally” distributing their advertising cards by sticking them on car windows.

Despite the efforts of the authorities, the menace that the tiny massage cards create in the city has been continuing for years. Various media outlets in the UAE including Gulf News have repeatedly highlighted this and reported complaints from residents about the cards that expose children to vulgar images and add to littering in communities.

“This seems to be expanding even as we try to control it,” Al Saifaie said, justifying the move to impose stricter punishment. It is not known when the proposal would be approved.