Clothesline Ban Leaves UAE Locals Hung Out to Dry


Laundry drying outside in Istanbul's Tarlabaşı neighborhood. Photo by Jonathan Lewis; used with permission.

Residents of Sharjah can now add putting their clothes to dry on an outdoor line to the list of things that can get them into trouble in the conservative emirate, along with drinking alcohol, dressing immodestly, and mixing with members of the opposite sex. But many say they have no other choice but to hang their kanduras and abayas out for all to see."It's not true that all residents can afford to take all their family clothes to a laundry or that all of them can afford to buy a good dryer. This is a wrong generalization," Hamad Abdullah, an Egyptian who lives in the Taawon neighborhood, told The National. Other residents can not even afford to buy the metal racks used to dry clothes indoors, the paper reported.

And as a reader who commented on the article added: "It is somewhat silly that residents are being expected to dry their clothes some other way other than air drying. Sharjah does not have the power to light people's homes, let alone power to run dryers. By the way, clothes last longer when air dried."

Fine of $136 for Laundry Scofflaws
Though the law against drying clothes on balconies -- which also includes a ban on satellite dishes in windows -- has been on the books for a decade, the original statue did not include any penalties. Under the updated law, laundry scofflaws can be fined up to 500 UAE dirham (about $136).

The move is intended to protect the emirate's image and environment, a municipal spokesman said. "This decision is not new," he said. "But what is new are the fines, because we are looking toward being more strict."

The statement by one resident who supports the decision seems to indicate, however, that more than aesthetics might be at stake. "With all respect to the people who still do it, we are moving toward a modern city and a building covered with clothes just doesn't look nice," Mohammed al Mullah, an Emirati resident of al Qassimiya, told The National. "What annoys me most is that some people would even hang on balconies or in public their inner clothes. This is disrespectful."

Regardless of the motivation behind the ban, readers who commented on the story thought it was a bad idea, with one man from Abu Dhabi suggesting that instead of "issuing citations to people who already have next to nothing," the city could require building owners to "install proper clothing hangers in all apartments."

More about clothesline bans:
Fight to Legalize Clotheslines Sweeps the US
Ungreen in the USA: 5 Things I Hate About America
Drying for Freedom, a Film About Clotheslines
Uzbek Capital Cracks Down on Clotheslines
Ontario Bans Bans on Clotheslines

Tags: Laundry | Urban Life