The Sewage Trucks of Dubai

Today I learned all of those huge hotels in Dubai are not connected to any sewage system:

Amazingly, Dubai doesn’t have a sewage infrastructure to support its skyscrapers, including the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Drivers said they’d been queuing for three days! [watch above video]

Unsurprising then, that many dump their loads into storm drains that lead directly to the open sea. Tourists are warned of the risk of contracting serious illnesses like typhoid and hepatitis if swimming on Dubai beaches. Wikipedia on sanitation in Dubai.

When I saw the Burj Khalifa in real life I was truly stunned. The tallest skyscraper in the world defies belief. Today I learned something that also defies belief: all the poop produced there has to be removed by trucks.Let’s do the math here. The Burj Khalifa has 163 habitable floors. It’s designed to hold 35,000 people at any given time. Now, humans produce 100 to 250 grams (3 to 8 ounces) of feces per day. Let’s say 200 in this case, since these people are well fed. That’s 7,000,000 grams per day. Seven tonnes of poop per day. Now, add human-produced liquids (pee, bathing, cleaning their teeth…) and the water to push the poop down its miles of sewage pipes. I think a very conservative total would be 15 tonnes of sewage per day.


  1. Only 15 tons total with 7 tons of pure feces? Make it 50 at least and we have a deal. Just the flushing costs an average of over 40 liters of water per day and person.
    Here in Germany the average day/person water use is 122 liters, USA has 295 liters and Dubai about 500!
    Math says that’s 17 500 tons of waste water per day… about 30 tons on a large truck makes 580 trucks per day…

    1. Let’s do this several ways. First, 15 tonnes is ~4000 gallons. Way low. 25,000 flushes a day at 1 gallon per flush is ~25,000 gallons. The building brings in 250,000 gallons per day. Say most of it is gray water that gets dumper to sea, so I’ll go with 10% or 25,000 gallons again as sewage. That’s about 5 trucks a day.

  2. By the way I was waiting for a golden ‘M’ or any other drive-through appearing at the end of the poop queue…

  3. Once the backup of trucks reaches back to the building maybe they can connect the trucks in such a way that the poop can just flow from one truck to another. Maybe I should patent the idea. And what should we call what would then be a long tube to carry liquids?

  4. Well, this must be in a situation at a time where the illigal dumping was checked… The city does acually have a sewerage system but this is overloaded, so many of the shining buildings get their wastewater tancs.

    It would be so simple to buid a separate treatment system fro truck disposal. Actually with a water consumption aroung 500 liters per capita and day it is very little poop in very much water : )

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