Tuesday, October 14, 2008

A dirty secret in Dubai--'slaves to build monuments'

Behind the glitz and dizzying building boom in Dubai is a sordid tale of exploitation and lies--an army of migrant workers that lives and works in squalor. These workers, mainly from south Asia but also from other countries such as Ethiopia, the Philippines and beyond--work 18 hour days, 6 or 7 days a week, and earn about 70 pounds a month in wages. They sleep 20 men to a room in filthy camps that can only be honestly described as ghettos, are forbidden to form unions, and have their passports seized by the authorities upon arrival.

Many of the estimated 300,000 migrant workers now in the Emirates paid one thousand pounds or more for the 'privilege' of working in Dubai. Once they arrive, due to wages that are only half of what is promised, they usually cannot afford to return home to see their families. The inhumane treatment and conditions for huge numbers of people are largely invisible to the outside world. Additionally, since the UAE is a dictatorship, discussions on this topic are forbidden in the UAE's state-owned media.

When Muslims talk about how 'tolerant' Islam supposedly is, perhaps they mean that Islam is 'tolerant' of slave labor and ruthless exploitation on a massive scale. The next Muslim protest I hear about on this problem in the UAE will be the first.

The Guardian has a posted a well-written expose on the story here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Of the people given death penalty in Saudi Arabia, About 1,500 lately, the vast majority are not Saudi nationals, they are mostly visitors, many of them workers.