Grafitti on a compound wall in Mirdif, the least worrisome of the many serious concerns residents have here Image Credit: © XPRESS / Francois Nel

Dubai: A man masturbating on a public street; a woman waking up to an intruder in her bedroom; a peeping Tom spying through women's bathroom windows… life in Mirdif isn't what it used to be.

The once-sleepy suburb of families has attracted residents of various moralities, due to the downward spiral in rents.

Humiliating experience

Marie, a 44-year-old Filipina was subject to humiliating behaviour just 100 metres away from her front gate. Out early on a Saturday morning, Marie was faced with the unthinkable. "I was walking down Street 71, towards Aswaq Supermarket, for my groceries at 8am, when I noticed a man cross the street towards me," she says. "All of a sudden, the man was facing me, less than 10 feet away, staring lecherously."

Clutching onto his nether regions, the man started masturbating right there in the middle of the street, says the homemaker. "Because it was on a weekend morning, there was no one on the street to call out to for help. I managed to dodge him and run into the community mall. By the time I alerted security, he had disappeared," she says.

Prior to this incident was the case of a peeping Tom, prying into bathrooms through a gap in the exhaust fan.

A French expat who lives on Street 57 recounts her ordeal. "I woke up at around 2am when I heard a noise outside my villa," she says. Peeping out of the front door, she noticed a plastic stool in the hedge along the outside of her bathroom wall and a grey/silver Nissan Patrol speeding away. "The window around the exhaust fan in the bathroom had been broken. But because it's higher up on the wall, it's not normally something I would notice," she says. "Who knows how often that peeping Tom was spying on my bathroom. At this point I feel so violated."

Earlier, a British professional in Mirdif awoke to find an intruder in her bedroom. Although too unnerved to disclose details, she said police intervention did occur and matters are confidential.

Alongside these, smaller acts of crime and harassment of women abound in Mirdif. The back entrance of Uptown Mirdif, near the food court, is rife with underage antics, including cases of teenage drinking.

"On weekends I've seen mid-teens sitting on the steps with bottles of vodka in their hands," says a 21-year-old Sudanese. XPRESS has also witnessed teenagers making out on the steps of the back entrance, as well as groups of underage boys leering at women.

A drive around the area reveals an increasing number of obscene graffiti on walls and teenagers sitting on street corners smoking.

‘Never like this'

"Mirdif was never like this," says 34 year-old Rainn Walker. "Now, everyone who's of the wrong kind is in Mirdif. Two months ago, a boy who looked to be no older than 13 grabbed my behind as he walked past me on street 37. Last week I read about a woman who was kidnapped and held in Mirdif. Who knows what I'll hear next. I'm having second thoughts about living here," she says.