Mohammad Abdul Gaffar Stains left behind by spitting of betel leaf residue is an eyesore. Image Credit: Mohammad Abdul Gaffar


On visiting the Al Shuwaihean area of Sharjah, you would find many cafeterias and supermarkets. But, another thing you often see is the colour red splashed on many walls. This is the result of people spitting all around after chewing paan, or betel leaves.

Though it is illegal to sell betel leaves in the UAE, it seems to be widely available in this area. Many people gather here in the evenings to meet with a person selling paan. Drivers stop their vehicles to buy it, causing traffic congestion.

Additionally, if you park your car in this area, you will find paan stains on it, too. It’s not safe from these stains, even if it is parked in the private paid parking area. If you dare to question the offenders for lounging on your car, then expect some scratches on it later.

There are three or more abandoned buildings in the area where I feel many illegal activities are going on. Fresh fish is available for cheap prices and used clothes are on sale. People urinating in the darker areas adds to it, too. You can see people gathered all around, no matter what the climate is. Walking with family in this area is not preferred.

I’m shedding light on these issues to get the necessary attention from the concerned authorities. Please look into these issues soon, for the sake of the neighbourhood.


According to a Gulf News report published in April 2012, the fine for people caught chewing and spitting paan (betel leaf) juice is Dh1,000. Betel leaves are banned in the UAE and bringing them into the country is illegal. If a person gives a tip-off to the authorities about illegal paan traders or factories, he or she will get Dh2,000 as a reward.

— The reader is based in Sharjah.

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