Dubai Poop Truck Sewage Systems

Poop Trucks: Does Dubai Really Have A Sewage Problem? (Myth Debunking)

A viral video released over a decade ago exposed a little-known truth about Dubai and the systems that manage the sewage needs of a city that grew too fast for its newly-built infrastructure. Dubai enthusiasts have conflicting opinions about the severity of the problem. Still, there was a period when it was a real issue.

Due to a sewage system unable to cope with the increasing loads of a rapidly growing city, Dubai has had to use trucks in the past to collect sewage from holding tanks before taking them to sewage treatment plants. This problem has mostly been addressed, despite taking longer than expected.

And even though there are rumors to the contrary, Dubai currently has a fully functional sewage system. It simply couldn’t cope with the increasing loads placed on it by the rapid development of new major buildings, such as the Burj Khalifa.

As a result, temporary measures had to be put in place until the sewage system could be adequately upgraded. Thankfully, these problems are mostly a thing of the past.

Does Dubai Really Have A Sewage Problem?

Sewage Problems Dubai

Dubai no longer has a severe sewage problem. There was a time during which there were major issues with the sewage.

Dubai, on the whole, has grown at an enormous rate compared to many other cities worldwide. There has been constant development on an enormous scale for the last 50 years, and development shows no signs of stopping.

To decrease its reliance on oil revenue, Dubai has focused its energy on developing the tourism industry in the area. As a result, enormous investment has gone into constructing landmark buildings and other tourist attractions to encourage foreign investment and tourism in the region.

As oil revenue is limited, and the Emirate has extremely lenient tax laws, the government of Dubai relies on other funding sources to survive. Tourism and foreign investment therefore keep Dubai afloat, which makes for a volatile economy.

Contributing Factors in Dubai’s Sewage Issues

Contributing Factors Dubai Sewage Issues

The vast majority of construction projects in Dubai are sponsored by the government. Understandably, there is often a focus on completing the projects as quickly as possible to start making money as soon as possible.

With the city’s rapid development, an ever-increasing number of large buildings, and a fast-growing population, certain infrastructural elements could not keep up. Arguably the most prevalent of these was the sewage system.

The city’s main goal was fast expansion and worldwide recognition as a tourism destination and a lucrative investment opportunity. Sanitation systems were not prioritized, so they quickly became insufficient.

With severe financial restrictions, the Dubai government couldn’t afford to spend money on upgrading existing sewage infrastructure before embarking on expansion efforts and landmark buildings such as the Burj Khalifa. As a result, trucking the sewage was seen as a more cost-effective solution in the short term.

The existing sewage system could not cope with the load placed on it by the ever-increasing population. Because the city focused primarily on development that would produce revenue, less emphasis was placed on developing the sewage system to cope with the loads.

As a result, several buildings in the city relied on a temporary method of sewage removal for a significant length of time. This was longer than initially planned. Sewage was kept in large holding tanks before being collected by large orange trucks, jokingly referred to as “poop trucks.”

These trucks could be seen lining the highways at certain times as they made their way to the sanitation plants with their loads of waste products. The sewage plants could not process such vast amounts of sewage at the required rates.

As a result of the above, the poop trucks would often sit for hours, waiting their turn to offload their collected sewage.

Burj Khalifa Sewage

Burj Khalifa Sewage Issues

The Burj Khalifa was built rapidly and was set to draw an enormous number of visitors to the area. It was seen as a massive opportunity to attract tourists and investors alike.

The record-breaking building was constructed despite the knowledge that the sewage system could not cope with the added load from such a large building at that time.

At full capacity, the Burj Khalifa can accommodate around 35,000 people. This number of people would collectively produce over 7 tonnes of waste per day. This figure excludes the wastewater that naturally goes with this waste, so the more realistic figure would be around 15 tonnes.

This enormous amount of extra waste would overload an already-strained sewage system and the city’s overworked sewage processing facilities. As a result, it is rumored that all of the waste from the Burj Khalifa was collected in holding tanks instead of moving through the city’s sewage system.

To remove the sewage, the orange poop trucks were brought in. Some rumors say that the entire Burj Khalifa relied solely on the trucks. In contrast, others say that the building is connected to the city’s sewage system.

Reliable information about Dubai’s sewage system is difficult to come by. Still, it is likely that while some of the building’s sewage load went through the usual system, a vast proportion of it was transported away in the sewage trucks.

The rumor began thanks to a video posted years ago showing the “poop trucks” and stating that Dubai had an all-round problem with sewage. But, the issue has since been mended and can no longer be described as an issue.

Sewage Dumping

Dubai Illegal Sewage Dumping

Because of the enormous load of sewage that needed to be processed and the treatment facilities’ inability to achieve this sufficiently quickly, the poop trucks would sometimes have to wait up to 24 hours to release their load.

As a result, many trucks started dumping their sewage into stormwater drains and behind sand dunes. As can be expected, this had devastating effects on Dubai’s environment and its reputation.

Because the stormwater drains empty into the ocean, raw sewage made its way into the sea. This created high levels of E.coli, which, in turn, had disastrous effects on water safety and tourism on the beaches.

Dubai’s New World Class Sewage System

New World Class Sewage System Dubai

In 2017, the Dubai government radically transformed the city’s sewage system. The new deep-tunnel sewage treatment plant system’s construction began in 2019 and will be completed in 2025

The Dh80 billion sewage system investment has multiple benefits, including:

  • a 25% reduction in carbon emissions.
  • the promotion of circular economy principles.
  • a positive contribution to Dubai’s global development, competitiveness, and quality of life indicators.
  • positioning of Dubai as a most modern, advanced, and sustainable city.
  • extending the current sewage system’s lifespan from 25 to 100 years of operational efficiency.

The new sewage system also helps deliver the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, meet the objectives of the Dubai Economic Agenda D33, and fulfil the goals set for Dubai’s Urban Plan 2040.

When complete, Dubai’s upgraded sewage system will be one of the most sophisticated globally. It will also re-use treated wastewater for irrigation purposes. The “sewage problem,” as rumored, has largely been solved, and residents need not worry about this going forward.


While Dubai has certainly had a major issue with sewage over the years as the city has grown tremendously, significant measures have been put in place to mitigate against future problems. When complete, Dubai will have one of the most sophisticated sewage systems globally that will benefit the entire emirate.


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