I’ve been discussing this very subject with my friend the Desert Pundit during my trip to Dubai last week. Dubai’s super capitalism and unbelievable growth has a human cost. It’s an underreported story. But now it’s starting to bubble up to the surface, as in The Independent story below. (image above from Kerala Monitor).
All of this makes one wonder not just about Dubai, but also about the economies of India, Bangladesh and Pakistan (but also other Asian countries) that force their citizens to go and work for low wages in Dubai (and Jordan too, if you think about our guest workers and domestic helpers).
In any case, the issue seems to be getting more attention. On departing through Dubai International Airport I noticed a number of posters from a Dubai governmental agency that is concerned with labor issues (I forgot its name) that carried a message of care for workers and a hotline number for complaints.
This doesn’t solve the issue of course, but it’s good to see it receiving public attention. The big companies in Dubai (and the government, which is a big company as well) can’t just turn a blind eye on this. Modernity is not just in building the tallest towers and longest malls. It’s in the respect of human beings (even if they are ‘just’ poor construction workers).
Independent Online Edition > Middle East:
Fifty per cent of the world’s supply of cranes are now at work in Dubai on projects worth $100bn – twice the World Bank’s estimated cost of reconstructing Iraq and double the total foreign investment in China, the word’s third-largest economy.
But there is also a downside to the glistening towers that soar above the shopping malls, the six-lane highways and the world’s only seven-star hotel with suites that can cost $50,000 (Â£28,000) a night. More than 2,500 workers at the site of the world’s tallest building, the $800m Burj Dubai, went on strike last week in a country where striking – and unions – are illegal. It is the latest manifestation of the deep discontent felt by the semi-indentured labourers from the Indian subcontinent who are building this glitzy oasis. Complaining of unpaid wages, and demanding better conditions, the labourers marched out of the cramped, stifling dormitories where they are corralled 25 to a room in violent protests which caused $1m worth of damage. They overturned cars and smashed up offices in a very graphic reminder of a problem which normally receives little publicity.