A few days ago, my family and I set out to get a few things from a grocery in the Discovery Gardens area of Dubai. It was a pleasant afternoon and with the temperatures finally coming down, we were enjoying ourselves. But, I then came across something that was totally spoiling the serene beauty of the area — clothes hung out to dry in plain sight.
Discovery Gardens is a very well-planned community, which is very pleasing to the senses with its pastel-coloured buildings, meandering pathways and beautiful landscaping. But, there were clothes stands placed out in the false balconies, which are basically narrow spaces enclosed by a railing.
Some of these balconies in Discovery Gardens do not even have a floor but just wooden planks placed out six inches apart from each other, which means there’s a good chance of water droplets falling to the ground directly below.
There was one clothes stand that was actually placed on a window ledge (as seen in photograph). When I looked around, a lot of other buildings there had clothes hung out in the same manner.
I would like to emphasise here that it is not a practice limited to this particular community or just Dubai. Innumerable reports have been carried by newspapers highlighting the issue in various parts of the country. In a poll conducted by Gulf News in February 2010, four out of 10 respondents confessed to drying their clothes outside.
This practice is actually prohibited by Dubai Municipality and carries a hefty fine. But still, we see the face of our beautiful city marred by this unethical, illegal and unhygienic practice.
The practice is unsafe, too. A flicker of spark caught by these clothes hung outside could have disastrous consequences. News reports, polls, fines — nothing has deterred this practice, hence it is important that it is highlighted again and again.
So, what can be done about it? Buying dryers is not really the best choice. We live in a country with abundant sunshine and we must make the most of this source of energy and try to reduce the carbon footprint of the nation as responsible and aware residents.
One solution could be to keep the stands right next to the windows or the doors next to the false balcony, but inside the home. Also running an extra drying cycle in the washing machine could be helpful. These cycles take a shorter time and consume less energy than the proper dryers. Following this, the clothes will dry out faster when hung on a stand.
Another option could be, if you must place your clothes outside, place them out in the balcony after the daylight hours and then bring the stand in first thing in the morning.
Ankita Kaushik, a homemaker based in Dubai, has also witnessed this issue in her area and believes it to be an eyesore.
She said: “When I moved to the UAE a few years ago, I did face the problem of drying clothes. So, what I saw as a solution was that I got a clothes stand and placed it next to the open window when the sun was at its brightest for the clothes to dry out and it worked just fine for me. The clothes dry perfectly well without any odour or anything.”
Once the clothes are dry, she folds the stand and keeps it away.
She said: “I do see stands put out, some even precariously suspended from the windows. It’s a dangerous, unpleasant practice. Personally, I would not even feel comfortable to have my clothes hanging out in plain sight.”
Sam Varghese, a sales professional based in Dubai, agrees with her perspective.
He said: “This practice has irked me for the longest time, and I’m quite surprised to see that people are not even scared of getting fined. I urge the authorities to put up posters in every building, post awareness videos on social media channels and take any measures they consider suitable to deter this practice.”
I urge all residents to make an extra effort in maintaining the beauty of this city and the country at large. It is not really an issue that can’t be taken care of. Very simple, doable measures can help in tackling the problem. We just need to be united and consistent in our efforts.
— The reader is a pupil based in Dubai.
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According to rules published on Dubai Municipality’s official website, those breaking the rules and drying clothes in the balcony or window ledge could face penalties as high as Dh 1,500.