Sanitation in Dubai 1970
In early 1970s Dubai relied on Cesspits to handle its Sewage. Dubai's many open sand areas were readily used by the population as public toilets. Dubai's Municipality recognised this as a risk to public health and made some attempt to change the habit. Notices were not enough. Dubai needed a modern Sewage System to cope with projected growth in property and people.
Public Hygiene Standards
- or Lack of Them!
Dubai had no centralised sewage system when T.J.White from Texas took this photo in the early 1970s. Houses, Hotels, Hospitals etc relied on Septic Tanks to collect their sewage. Paved streets and pathways were few. Dubai's Residents had no Public Toilets to meet their needs but plenty of absorbent sand! The Sewage collected in the Septic Tanks was usually dumped in desert areas generally alongside the upper reaches of Dubai Creek. Dubai Municipality's signage was ineffective. Those Members of the Public expected to comply with the Notice are unlikely to be able to read either Arabic or English or (more likely) to read in any language.
"Install Utilities and Services then Build & Develop"
Sheikh Rashid's Philosophy Forgotten by 2008
Sheikh Rashid understood Public Sanitation as a critical element of Dubai's development. Planned infrastructure allowed rapid development. The problems with not having a viable infrastructure had been demonstrated in other Gulf States. Bahrain. for example, built Hi Rise Hotels and Apartment Blocks that depended on sewage cesspits because of lack of infrastructure. Over time the modern Sanitation System Sheikh Rashid's provided became accepted as a Dubai norm. By 2008 Dubai's development started to exceed the sewage system's capacity.
Modern Dubai's strategic focus was on rapid new and exciting property development. Dubai Municipality were "playing catch up" with utilities infrastructure. Sheikh Rashid's forward thinking of putting utility services in place before development had been forgotten. Nett effect was utilities like sewage disposal no longer coped with demand.
Around 2008, this lack of capacity led to illegal dumping of raw sewage. Pre 1970s dumping areas were now gone, covered by houses, hotels, golf courses or designated as conservation areas. Instead Dubai's coastline and storm drains became the unofficial dump sites bringing adverse health, ecological and financial risks.
Dubai has since commissioned New Waste and Waste Water Treatment Plants to meet Dubai's future needs.