Across big cities in Nigeria, they cruise around in flashy cars and own good businesses but in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), many Nigerian ladies engage in prostitution to keep their businesses afloat.
Flashy cars. Blinking bank accounts. Good businesses. They have it all. The good things of all fall on their laps. Like the queens that many see them to be outside, they live large.
Welcome to the world of the Nigerian 'big babes' who call the shots as far as prostitution is concerned in Dubai, that artificial creation in the United Arab Emirates which has caught the world's attention.
Dubai covers an area of 1500 square miles and sits 52 feet above sea level. It is the gateway to Asia and is described as the Las Vegas of the Middle East. On the streets of Dubai, these ladies are the centre of attraction and back home, especially in cities such as Lagos, Abuja and Port Harcourt, they own big businesses and drive flashy cars, yet from time to time, they acquire two months visa to
Dubai for no reason other than to indulge in commercial sex. With the help of syndicates, they secure accommodation in hotels and apartments.
It came as a shock to this reporter, whose first time it was in Dubai. Having booked her accommodation online at the Africana Hotel, Deira, she was hopeful to have some quiet time and arriving the Dubai International Airport and seeing the Arabs all covered, with warning prohibiting indecency, she thought: "At least, there is some decency here!"
But she was soon to realize that beneath the cleanliness and splendour of the city lies a dirty trade, which even Sheiks are said to patronise when no one is watching. The moment this reporter stepped into the hotel she had reserved online, she saw an army of half-naked women, parading the premises.
Shocked by the contrast, she had quickly asked: "What's going on here?" The reply from the smiling front desk person was: "They are from your country, Nigeria. They are our guests. See these ladies, they pair themselves in a room, some even stay three in a room. So, in case you want to save money, you can pair with any of them!"
But her response did not quench the reporter's curiosity. It did not answer why half-nude Nigerian women, as early as 9am, were flaunting their bodies in front of the hotel with some black guys giving them signals.
At that moment, she made up her mind she was not going to stay in that hotel but would definitely visit the place at night for a better understanding of the mystery.
Having successfully checked into another hotel, with the help of an agent whose number she got from her friend who frequents Dubai, the reporter revisited the Africana Hotel.
The time was 11pm and the environment well lit, with a beehive of skimpily-dressed trooping in and out of the hotel. Observing quietly, the reporter overheard some of the ladies, seated at the reception complaining how the business has gone sour.
One of the ladies said: "Things are not as easy as they used to be when I started this business. There were some weeks I made about $5,000 from these Arab and European men.
"But since more babes from Nigeria got into it, there are so many 'runs girls' in Dubai that for the past one month, I have not made up to $5,000.
"Worst still, some of my clients have suddenly changed and started demanding anal sex. I had a terrible experience recently with a European whom I met inside an elevator at a big hotel.
"We exchanged contacts after he paid $300 for a 'blow job' in the elevator. Then, subsequently, we met and had pizza and he offered $1,000 for sex in his apartment.
"I thought he was a decent guy until I got to his apartment. He threatened me with a knife to accept sex with me through the anus or he will kill me.
"I begged him to collect his money and let me go but the oyibo man refused and had his way. Imagine what I have denied most of my contacts, who would have even paid more for it, that stupid European got it by force and still he collected his money back.
"I am just tired of this business. Though I own a big boutique in Festac, it is through these 'runs' that I foot my bills because there is little profit in the boutique business."Another one, whom they called Jane while sympathising with her friend, told the girls that Alhaja [her pimp] had earlier warned her not to carry money to her customer's place.
"Alhaja warned me that these days, the men will sleep with you and still collect your money. So, since then, I usually drop any advance payment with her.
"I do not want a situation whereby one stupid man will collect the money I have laboured for. Any valuable thing I have, I usually drop them with Alhaja and she gives me back once I demand for them.
"So, my dear, learn from this experience and most times, it is better you tell the men ahead of time what you can do and what you cannot do," said Jane.Jane, who claimed she resigned from her place of work in Lagos where she served as a marketer, attributed her resignation to meagre salary.
"I graduated from the university two years ago and got a job where I was paid N20, 000 per month. The hardship and frustration in Nigeria pushed me into prostitution and I have no regrets because I now have a better life. I own my own apartment, a car and a big saloon in Lagos," she said.Baffled by the revelations of the ladies, the reporter asked a travel agent how the women were able to practise open prostitution in a Muslim country.
Hear him: "Is there anything Nigerians cannot do? Most of these girls I know them in Nigeria. Some are rich and own big businesses, while some are students.
"They apply and acquire two months' visa and with the help of travel agents and some big women, they get accommodation in hotels and even apartment. Then, those women who also have guys working for them usually link them up with men.
"Most of them register and submit their international passports to the women or their contact persons and every night; this is how they keep going about.
"It is very embarrassing that Nigerian ladies, including married women, come here for prostitution. That is how one of them saw me in Festac last year and she was hiding because she knows I know what she does in Dubai.
"Once a woman calls me that she wants two months' visa, I just know that is what she is coming for and I turn them down. Some will say there is no job in Nigeria and they want to come and hustle.
"What is paining me now is that this nonsense that they do has made it difficult for us to secure genuine visas for decent people. Also, most hotels have increased their rates, with some even refusing to give their rooms to single women coming to stay that long.
"If you go around this neighbourhood [Deira], you will see that these stupid girls even rent apartments, which they keep and pay for even while they are in Nigeria, yet they claim it is unemployment and poverty that led them into prostitution.
"It is a serious issue and I think the Federal Government needs to act on it urgently, if not, these girls will spread diseases in Nigeria, aside the bad image they are painting of the country already," said the travel agent.Continuing, the agent narrated how one of the prostitutes approached a client of his who lodged in the hotel sometime in June.
"The girl just knocked on the door and when my client opened, she called her outside and was telling her to stop acting like a child. I just stood by the door and I was hearing their conversation. She told my client that most of the men who have seen her want her to play by the game.
"But my client refused and told the lady that she was in Dubai for business and not prostitution and the girl, while insisting, said most of them own businesses in Nigeria and that they prostitute to cover their expenses.
"She even said that my client can make the money she will use to buy her goods in one night, thereby she would not spend the money she came with or buying more things.
"I was so angry that I had to come out and warn the girl to mind her business and allow my client who has told her she was not interested in prostitution.
"That was why I came immediately you told me she gave you my number and that you want a decent place to stay," he said.Yet in this city, there are strict religious laws against prostitution. A western women once got a month imprisonment for a peck on the cheek. The law in Dubai has clear rules that prostitution is illegal. If you are caught by the police, both you and the prostitute will be put into jail and wait for the sentence of the local court.
If you are not a national, apart from the punishment of being sentenced by the court, you will be asked to leave the UAE and will not be allowed back in again.
There are different categories of prostitutes in Dubai. There are the willing ones and the forced ones who are threatened into it by pimps. The bulk of the Nigerian ladies in the trade are the willing ones and if they are caught, unfortunately, they will go for it.