(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) Many residents call it a nuisance and others say they are an embarassment. Business cards offering massage services are everywhere - slipped under the front doors of apartments, stuck to vehicle windows or placed under door handles.
Residents living in International City, Business Bay and other parts of Dubai have voiced their concerns and say these massage services are a cover for prostitution, with landline numbers missing from the cards.
Residents are appealing to the Dubai Police to conduct, what they are calling 'prevention campaigns' to prevent such illegal services.
Some of them have suggested that the watchmen of each building must be made responsible for informing the management about anyone seen dropping cards offering such dubious services: "This (making watchmen responsible) could turn out to be very helpful and, who knows, maybe a whole gang of illegals and residency law violators could be busted," one resident said.
New daring trend
Seeing such colourful business cards being dropped at their doorsteps and on their cars daily has left many families exasperated, with many left worried for the safety and welfare of their children.
What is an eyeopener for them is that the business cards offer on-call room service, one which allows the interested person to enjoy, for instance, a Thai massage in the comforts of his house, ordered and delivered just by a phone call: "The cards are being dropped for a couple of years now. It is amazing how daring their designs have become. They used to have love signs like hearts and arrows. Now, they have drawings depicting naked Asian women. I see it as daylight prostitution," said an Arab resident of China Cluster in International City.
What looks more suspicious and a reason to worry is that the cards all bear mobile numbers and not landline numbers, which suggest that the massage service provider does not have any location or shop operating with the necessary legal permits from the Economic Department or the Dubai Municipality.
An Emirati resident believed that the individuals who drop such cards are acting brazenly by offering such shady services with no regard to the UAE's social values and no fear of being caught and punished.
A Khaleej Times female reader called on a mobile number she found on a Thai massage business card and an Asian man answered with weak English. He said that a one-hour session costs Dh200. When asked whether the services are for men or women, the man said 'no need' and hung up.
A number on a business card with a drawing of a 'masseuse' in a seductive pose on its floral background was called and an Asian woman who could hardly speak English was on the other side of the line. She assured that the massage is available for men and women.
Asked about their location, she said they would come to the client's place anywhere in Dubai - be it a woman or a man, no problem. When pestered with a flurry of more questions, she put the phone down immediately.
Residents fear the room service massage has become a trend that covered large parts of Dubai and needed to be addressed and rooted out.
In the past years, the Dubai Police have raided many flats run as brothels in areas like Naif and clusters in International City, which often witnessed rivalry among Asian gangs.
The municipality conducts inspections on a regular basis on massage parlours to ensure they abide by the regulations that include prohibition of inter-sex massage and others pertaining to hygiene and decency.
Massage centres found to be giving sex services face strict action that includes shutting down the centre.
Police guidelines have always been clear and firm that women and men should have separate massage centres.
Dangerous to let strangers in
In the last few years, many cases were examined by the Dubai courts in which defendants were convicted of premeditated murder after posing as masseurs and gaining access to the clients' houses.
International City alone witnessed many murder cases that reportedly had something to do with massage services. In one case, an Arab citizen invited an Asian delivery boy of a supermarket in the same neighbourhood and asked him to give him a massage. The boy, who allegedly ended up killing the man and robbing his valuables, claimed in court that the victim had tried to sexually assault him.
In another case, an Egyptian man was also found guilty of murdering an Arab man at his house in Al Qusais area after going there to give a massage.
By Marie Nammour