Don’t dry your dirty linen in public…
Determined to stamp out the ‘uncivilized phenomenon’ of drying clothing in public, the Abu Dhabi Muncipality threatens to fine violators Dh1,000
August 8, 2012 2:47 by Eva Fernandes
If you are anything like Kipp you will find it hard to vilify the humble clothesline—a ubiquitous feature found outside most homes around the world. Whether it is a nylon rope held taut by two skinny wooden sticks propped up on a front lawn or a plastic foldable drying rack placed on a balcony, Kipp has grown up without any scruples over drying our once-dirty linen in public, so to speak. But a new legislation in Abu Dhabi may just change all of that.
The UAE government news agency WAM reported earlier this week that the Municipality of Abu Dhabi is toughening up on their no-laundry in public stance. Urging residents to use electric driers or very short drying racks, the municipality will slap a hefty Dh1000 fine on violators.
Though we have our own biased opinion on the issue of the clothesline, we are appreciative of the culturally sensitive nature of the topic. Abu Dhabi is far from the first city to have such feelings towards drying laundry in public. Why, in the United States of America, residents living in home owning associations (HOAs) must comply with the associations’ ban and restrictions on clothesline. We are talking about more than 60 million people living in roughly 300,000 communities who aren’t allowed to hang their clothing up to air. Despite the HOAs right to dictate the terms of those living within its communities, six states including Florida, Utah, Maine, Vermont, Colorado and Hawaii have altered the bodies’ firm ban on clothesline serving as an inspiration for other states who are attempting to follow suit. The clothesline controversy even inspired a documentary called ‘Drying For Freedom- Our Future is Hanging on the Line.’
So just for the record we would like to repeat that we understand attitudes towards the validity of the clothesline is culturally specific. What we don’t understand is the rather odd way the Municipality chooses to represent the practice. Consider the words of Khalifa Al Rumaithi, Director of the Public Health at the Abu Dhabi Municipality who was quoted by WAM as saying: “as the Municipality appreciates the communal contribution to stamp out this uncivilized phenomenon, it confirms its clear-cut determination to move forward to eradicate all city disfiguring elements.”
Uncivilized phenomenon? Drying the clothes you washed, is considered ‘uncivilized’? We can stretch our cultural differences argument only so far but no further. Drying one’s clothes may alter the appearance of a building but it is very difficult to see how that could be branded ‘uncivilized.’ If anything we would first consider racial discrimination, concepts of ‘owning’ employees and exploitation of labour workers as far more uncivilized than a pair of white Y-fronts dancing in the hot humid air. In fact, with environmental consciousness increasing globally, we don’t think we would be alone in calling unnecessarily wasting electricity to dry clothes a perfectly hot summer sun can dry, as an act of incivility. We probably could go on with a rather uncivil list of what we consider as uncivilized, but you probably get our not so subtle point, anyway. What do you think of the ban? Do you have a similar ban in your home country?