Dubai’s dark side

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 (£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.


5 Responses to “Dubai’s dark side”

  1. Hani Says:

    Ahmad, it is every where, it is not only hitting workers coming from abroad…

    Take a drive, start from Swiefieh area in Amman then drive until you reach the heart of Bag3a Camp… and tell me what level of difference you will come to note.

    Here in Riyadh, you can find 15 persons living in a small house, just to earn thier living with little savings for thier families abroad… I think if they do the same in their country, they will also be able to save some money, or at least live their day.

  2. Mujahideen Ryder Says:

    Living in America, Dubai is known as the “Muslim New York City”. Living about 45 minutes away from NYC, Dubai is every Muslim New Yorker’s dream to go visit or actually live there.

    After reading the article from that newspaper makes the nickname for Dubai the “Muslim New York City” even more true. NYC is full of immigrant workers. But they aren’t constructing buildings, they are usually fulfilling the less skilled jobs that the middle and upper class refuse to work for.

    I have to add this to my blog. Thanks!

  3. dadan Says:

    “We reached the dizzy heights of that dreamed of world”

    thats just sad … and true

  4. Rami Says:

    But this is the “model” for Capitalism, price pressure require cost reduction. The USA lives by exploiting Latin Americans, they actually know Latinos cross the border illegally, but hey, they accept less than the minimum. Why not?

    Beneath the glamour is always toil and misery. You just need to look hard for it.

  5. toot: The Arab blog network » Blog Archive » Interestingness Says:

    [...] toot lately, and I feel inclined to share those that I feel are “must-reads”: 360 East has a post on Dubai’s dark side, saying, “Dubai’s super capitalism and unbelievable growth h [...]

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