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Dubai Sewage System - Poop Truck Video

Circulating message that features a YouTube video depicting seemingly endless lines of sewage trucks in Dubai claims that the trucks are necessary because the city does not have a sewage system that can service all of its new buildings.


© Merkel

Brief Analysis
It is true that back in 2009 when the video footage was published, Dubai's  existing sewage system was not coping and many buildings were not yet connected to the municipal sewage system. It was thus necessary to collect waste from thousands of septic tanks and truck it to the city's only sewage treatment plant. When the treatment plant reached capacity, very long queues of sewage trucks resulted. However, since 2009, the city's sewage systems have been greatly expanded with many newly developed areas now linked to the sewer system. Extremely rapid urban growth has meant that city's sewage infrastructure has not always kept pace with development. But, the endless lines of poop trucks are now reportedly a thing of the past.

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Subject: FW: Dubai's Planners? HOLY CRAP!

How could they have done this. The most important thing in a modern city I would have thought!!!!!

In Dubai , they forgot one little item...

The modern Arab world!! You have seen those architectural wonders of Dubai .
However, none are hooked up to a sewer system!
The two minute video below passes a line of poop trucks and never gets to the end of the line.
What were these people thinking?
An unbelievable amount of sewage is generated by the new high-rises and there is no place to dispose of it. Camel sense seems about right!
Dubai doesn't have a sewage system for all those big new buildings so they haul it all away in tank trucks.
Look at the number of tank trucks that are waiting to dump their load. This is amazing.
They wait for days to dump their load.
You would have thought that by building all those huge skyscrapers they would have enough sense to put in a sufficient sewage system to haul
way all that crap.
You would imagine that those building that look amazingly beautiful were built on a well-planned system of utilities. But, that's NOT TRUE!!

Detailed Analysis

According to this message, urban planners in Dubai "forgot" to implement a sewage system to service the city's many new high rise buildings thereby making it necessary to cart sewage away in trucks and dump it elsewhere. The message features a viral YouTube video depicting seemingly endless lines of "poop trucks" carting the sewage away. Some versions of the message falsely claim that Dubai does not have a sewage system at all. The message is also unfairly used to foster certain world views and racial stereotyping on some political and religious blogs and forums by holding it up as a supposed example of the "stupidity and incompetence" of Muslims and the Arabic world.

The video is genuine and does indeed show vast queues of trucks transporting sewage out of the city. However, since the footage was uploaded to YouTube back in 2009, the Dubai poop situation has greatly improved. A new sewage treatment plant is now operational and the existing sewage system reportedly reaches all areas of the city, with newly developed areas now linked to the system.

But, in 2009, there were indeed significant problems with the city's sewage disposal systems. The city grew so rapidly in previous years that Dubai's existing sewage infrastructure was outpaced and was not able to cope effectively. Many newly developed areas and buildings were not linked to the piped system. Thus, waste had to be collected from thousands of septic tanks across the city and trucked to the area's only sewage treatment plant. Very long lines of  tankers formed, especially when the sewage plant reached capacity. Because of the long waits, some tanker drivers resorted to illegal dumping of their loads by roadways or in waterways.

However, later in 2009, the second sewage treatment plant became operational and this greatly alleviated the truck queuing issues and the illegal dumping. And, further development in subsequent years has continued to improve the city's sewage infrastructure. A January 2011 Gulf Today article notes:
Sewage network now covers all areas of Dubai

A NUMBER of newly developed areas in Dubai, including locations around Sheikh Zayed Road, Business Bay, Dubai Marina and Aweer have been linked to the main sewage network of the city.

Dubai Municipality (DM) claims that the delivery of sewerage services has been ensured in the entire areas of the city with the completion of the several new projects, including the establishment of a giant sewage water treatment plant at Jebel Ali at an estimated cost of Dhs1.55 billion.

Talib Julfar, the director of Drainage and Irrigation Department at the DM, said that new plant, second phase of which was completed in 2010, would be the main sewage treatment plant for the city in place of the current Al Aweer plant.
Given the amazingly rapid urban development in the region, sewage and other infrastructure issues may continue to cause problems in the city just as rapid growth has done in many other parts of the world. But the vast queues of poop tankers featured in the 2009 video are now hopefully a thing of the past.

Finally, attempts by some commentators to put a racial and cultural slant on Dubai's sewage issues are disingenuous and self-serving. Failures of infrastructure are hardly unprecedented in rapidly expanding municipalities. Suggesting that such failings are because those in charge belong to a particular race or religion and are therefore lacking in intelligence is racist nonsense.

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Last updated: June 5, 2013
First published: June 5, 2013
By Brett M. Christensen
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