Muscat: Residents and citizens, in general, warmly welcomed the recent decision by Muscat Municipality on imposing hefty fines for people drying their laundry on balconies overlooking public streets.
On Wednesday, Muscat Municipality issued a notification, reminding residents to abide by Article (32) of Local Order No. 92/23, which regulates the organisation of buildings in the governorate and outlines the requirements for drying laundry on balconies.
The statement said that according to Article No 14 of Muscat Municipality law, hanging laundry on the balconies of buildings is considered a violation by law, for which one of these two penalties will be imposed: a fine between OMR 50 to a hefty OMR 5,000, or imprisonment for a period of 24 hours to six months.
A cross-section of residents spoke to Times of Oman on the latest notice and welcomed the decision of imposing fines but a few expressed their surprise at the hefty price one may have to pay.
“This is certainly a very good move. To see clothes hanging in balconies from the road is definitely an eyesore. Muscat is such a beautiful city and the cleanliness is regarded as the one of the best in the world. To see washed clothes hanging in open balconies is a big ‘no-no’ for me. The decision is not only welcome but I hope that it is implemented also in earnest. It is definitely a good deterrent,” said Dr Rajini, a senior doctor based in Muscat for the past many decades.
Muscat Municipality emphasised the need to maintain the aesthetic façade of the city and said that municipal laws prohibit the hanging of laundry on balconies without the installation of covering elements.
Clothes must be covered by one of two elements: a “Mashrabiya” or wooden mesh with perforations no more than 1.50 cm x 1.50 cm wide, or a concrete openwork with perforations no more than 7 cm2 and a depth of at least 10 cm.
Furthermore, any residential building with more than three units must provide a balcony for each unit, depending on the architectural conditions of the unit, and these balconies must be covered with one of the approved covering materials or elements.
The use of metal mesh as a covering element is prohibited.
Rajesh, a long-time resident of Al Khuwair, agreed that fines should be imposed on violators as he finds the hanging of clothes on the balcony an ugly situation. “It is very common in the area where I stay. This should serve as a deterrent but I am not sure if a staggering fine of OMR5,000 is justified. Any fine from OMR50-250 should be good enough to dissuade the residents from drying out their clothes.”
Salauddin, a domestic help, said: “A lot of blue-collared workers stay in populated residential areas and there are more than 15-20 people staying in ‘camps’ of their respective companies. We often hang outside so that our clothes get dried in sunlight. We have to be very careful now.”
“We will have to get indoor hangers or strings to be tied inside as our flats do not have covered balconies,” he further added.
Clothes hung out in open balconies are a common sight in multi-storey flats in Muttrah, Ruwi, Al Khuwair and Seeb and the latest circular from Muscat Municipality, mentioning a fine of up to OMR 5,000, has led the topic to be the talk of town, be it online or in the living rooms of homes.
Some of the residents were unhappy with the amount of fine though they were unanimous in their view that hanging clothes in an open balcony is an eyesore and gives a bad impression to all.
“To put a fine up to OMR 5,000 is just too much for hanging clothes in the open. The fine may actually be the total cost of all the clothes one has in his home,” remarked a resident, on condition of anonymity.