Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Dark Side of Dubai: Part 1

Dubai has been in the news for a long time now for various reasons. Many a times we hear about the “city with the tallest building in the world”. At times we hear things that tell us that there is a city in the Middle East that was built “unlike any other city in human history”. The tales are told of Dubai. Dubai is used as an example to be followed.

There is no doubt at all that Dubai has transformed itself into a 21st century city in no time. However, this transformation, though it looks amazing and awesome, does not feel that great when you look at the reality on ground and that’s what I want to emphasize with this post. But I don’t want to write about something that has already been covered in great detail and the writer has done a far better job than I am even capable of doing. So please read this very insightful article by The Independent’s writer Johann Hari (it is, of course, illegal to read or publish either this article or Johann Hari’s name in the UAE).

Along with this article I also want to share a little story of my own just to add more weight to the above mentioned beautifully written article:

About a couple of weeks ago I was having dinner at the mall and I noticed the guys who clean up the trays in the food court. After I finished my dinner I went up to one of the guys and asked him how he was doing. He looked a little confused like, “why the crap is this guy talking to me?” I didn’t even wait for his answer and I asked, “How much do you earn every month?” He told me he earned 800 AED ($217) a month. As the conversation went on he further told me that he was from Bangladesh and he was only able to talk to his family once or twice every 2 months as he didn’t have enough money to buy phone credit. I pulled out 25 AED ($6.8) and told him, “here, take this and call your family tonight.” The guy almost broke in tears while looking at me in disbelief. To me that amount of money didn’t really mean much but it seemed that to him it was something really huge. After he took the money all he could manage to say was “thank you sir.” I said, “Don’t worry about it” and I walked away.

That’s just a little story of how only about $7 can do so much for someone here. This guy, who works as a cleaner at the food court of a mall, actually earns more than an average construction worker whose wage is about 650 AED ($176) a month. These are the people who make up a huge chunk of the population of Dubai and these are the people you never hear about when you hear about Dubai.

I will soon write part 2 of this post with another story that reveals more about the UAE.


Always On Watch said...

Avenging Apostate,

Do you have any knowledge of this, the child camel jockeys of the UAE?

I know that the official policy has come out in opposition to abusing children in such a manner?

Wonderful to see you posting again, my friend!

Mark said...

Welcome back, AA!

Congratulations on finding your life's partner, too. I send you both every good wish for now and for the future.

Avenging Apostate said...


I had heard about the camel jockeys thing about 3 years ago I think when they passed a formal law against it and introduced the robotic jockey things.

I haven't really looked into that in detail. I know its something I can really pursue getting knowledge about. I don't have a doubt that they still use children if possible. Shaikhs and rich people are usually above the law but I don't have any proof to back it up and journalists aren't crazy enough to cover it in local newspapers.

I will see what I find about it and I will write about it because I think I am crazy enough to do that. :-)

Thanks for your comment.


Thanks a lot. I really enjoy reading your work by the way. Very encouraging to see you're still writing for PI.