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The Exploitation of Migrant Workers and the Booming in Construction in Dubai

December 30, 2008

Summarizing a post on NPR’s website Economic Crisis Dampens Gulf Building Boom by Peter Kenyon

The booming in construction in the Persian Gulf countries would not be achievable without the existence of the cheap labor from Bangladesh, Pakistan, and India. Workers in Dubai share their worries about the low wages that they earn along with the harsh conditions that they face as some of  the companies keep the passports of their workers in addition to two months of their salary to keep them from going back home.

“Analyst Mustapha Alani at the Gulf Research Center says he doesn’t think people in the oil-producing states of the the Gulf Cooperation Council, or GCC, are prepared for a sharp downturn in development activity – neither the developers, the investors nor the migrant workers who could be hit first and hardest”.

“We’re talking about 6 million Indian workers employed in the GCC,” Alani says. “Possibly 50 percent of this workforce – they’re going to lose their jobs in the region. And either they have to stay as illegal immigrants or they have to go back to their country to seek employment.

The labor camp,which lies in the outskirt of the city is dirty, cramped, 6 to 12 workers are sharing the same room to sleep. The workers patiently line up in order to wash themselves; “a Dumpster sits in a great pool of standing water”. And, due to couple of years of strikes by angry workers along with condemnations by international NGOs led to the construction companies to improve their conditions.

According to anthropologist Chad Haines, who studied the problems of the migrant workers in the Gulf, the primary impact of the coming downturn and tight lending market could be to put those recent modest improvements at risk. Quoting  Haines:

It becomes an opportunity for a lot of the corporations, then, to not follow up on laws that have been passed in the last couple of years, drawing attention to the issues of exploitation there

as professor Haines adds,

“this might be an excuse then to backtrack on a lot of that”.

To read the full article and to listen to the audio report, please visit the following NPR’s link  http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=97165620

or visit the following the AAA Members in the News’ link  http://www.aaanet.org/issues/membernews/index.cfm

The below UAE Interact‘s link has some good information if you are interested to learn more about  the Metro Project at Sheikh Zayed road in Dubai

http://www.uaeinteract.com/docs/First_footbridge_for_Dubai_Metro_installed/31482.htm

Also Culture Matters in its post Authentic Dubai refers to an important link Building Towers, Cheating Workers Exploitation of Migrant Construction Workers in the United Arab Emirates

The post also draws our attention to what is called Dubanization

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