By Sumayyah Meehan, MMNS
Everything is bigger, better and more expensive in Dubai. Now even the public toilet system facilities are expected to get a massive multi-million Dirhams overhaul. With an increase in tourism in Dubai and years of tourists complaining that they simply cannot find a public toilet facility to use when nature calls, the government has finally taken action. The Dubai Municipality in a partnership with the Med K & K Advertising Company plan to develop over 100 state-of-the-art and fully automated public toilet facilities which will be situated all over the tiny Kingdom. Looking more like cubes than toilet stalls, the cost of the project is estimated to be in the upwards of 50 million Dirhams. But not to worry the project will pay for itself, as time will surely tell. The public will have to pay a rate of 2 Dirhams to use the toilets. In addition, the outer walls of the box like structures will be available for advertisers to rent and plaster up whatever they wish to promote.
So whatâ€™s so special about these toilets? First they are fully air conditioned and automated. Once the occupant leaves the toilet facility a steel spraying arm full of disinfectant will spray the enter surface of the stall (which, by the way, contains only one toilet and a sink). Then a large squeegee pops out of the wall near the floor and scraps the floor clean. So, the toilet facility is always disinfected and always dry. Hygiene was one of the most important factors considered when designing the prototype for the toilets. Previously, tourists in Dubai were heard to have used the public streets to relieve themselves, which health officials worried could spread disease in the Kingdom.
The safety of the toilet facilities was also an issue. So, once the coins are inserted and the occupant enters the stall there is no way anyone else can enter. In addition, the floors of the stalls are equipped with weight sensors that are contacted to a municipality control center to keep an eye on the stalls in case someone inadvertently gets trapped inside. The recent case of a man getting trapped in a public toilet facility in Scotland demonstrates that this is a very real concern. David Leggat got trapped for four days in a public toilet facility after entering it when the door handles fell off. He was stuck in the stall without food but did have water to drink from the cold tap and utilized the hot tap to warm his feet, which in essence warmed the rest of his body. The toilet facilities also contain an emergency telephone and a fire extinguisher to ensure safety under all eventualities.
Construction of the toilets is set to begin in January 2008 and be completed in March of the same year. The question that begs to be asked is whether or not the construction of these high-class toilets are truly in a bid to please the public or just a clever way to advertise?