KT Photo: SM Ayaz Zakir
As the rest of Dubai celebrates the start of 2024 with a holiday, unsung heroes can be seen on the streets, keeping their heads down and working hard to keep our city clean.
Sweepers from Dubai Municipality and private entities are among those responsible for the city’s reputation as one of the cleanest in the world. Although their behind-the-scenes efforts can often go unnoticed, they are the backbone of our city.
One of these heroes is Ahmed Jamal, a Bangladeshi expat who has been cleaning the streets of Dubai for the last 20 years. “This is possibly my 20th New Year’s Day in the city and I’ve worked most of them. It’s like a routine for me. The streets I clean… I am disappointed to see them dirty. I pick up my grabbing tools to give the streets a new look,” said Jamal, who started his work at 9 a.m. to clear a 5-kilometer stretch in Deira. He clears the main streets and side lanes around the “fish roundabout.” “When it was 12 at night, I had cleared 40 percent of the street. However, I still have to clear the side lanes,” Jamal said.
Jamal is grateful that with this work he has managed to marry one of his daughters and hopes to do the same with two others.
Mohammed Akmal is another expat who is committed to keeping the streets of Dubai clean regardless of any day of the year. “I’ve been doing this for the last 12 years. It’s not just about the New Year, it’s about keeping the streets clean every day,” said Akmal, who cleans the streets of Satwa.
“It is a time of joy and celebration and people may have unknowingly littered, but I am here to rectify their mistakes,” he added.
Akmal said that cleaning jobs even make him healthy. “I walk almost 10 kilometers a day. With headphones on, the work doesn’t seem too tiring. I take a break three times a day for tea, lunch and mid-day rest,” Akmal said.
For Shawkath Ali, a Pakistani expat, keeping the environment clean is like walking in the hills. Even before residents began the New Year celebration, Ali was armed with bags and gathering tools in the Hatta Hills.
Around 9 p.m., Ali began distributing garbage bags to people who had come to celebrate the New Year. “People who come to Hatta to hike are now responsible. Sometimes they forget their garbage bags. I am distributing the bags so that they can throw the garbage in the bags and I can pick them up later,” Ali said.
“Many people had gathered on the hills to celebrate the arrival of the New Year. At first I was worried about the difficult task of cleaning the area. However, I am grateful that the people present took the initiative to clean everything and properly dispose of the garbage in the bags I provided,” Ali said.
The Emaar developers appreciated the efforts of their cleaning staff. They posted a video on their social media about how their staff cleaned up the city center shortly after the celebration in a short time.
The video showed the post-celebration and crowds leaving as dedicated cleaners restored the shine to downtown Dubai.
The post read: “Congratulations to our dedicated team for their outstanding efforts in quickly restoring Downtown Dubai to its original state following the event. Their hard work ensured a smooth continuity of activities for residents, visitors and nearby businesses. A sincere thank you for your commitment and efficiency.”
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