22 March, 2006

burj dubai riot

As someone already commented on SD's blawg...

DUBAI - Construction on a building expected to be the world’s tallest was interrupted on Wednesday after Asian workers angered by low salaries and mistreatment rioted, smashing cars and offices and causing what a government official said almost US$1 million in damage
more here (courtesy of the Kretin)

discuss...

21 comments:

MD said...

$1m damage. Kick-ass. You can't build a dream on someone else's curse.

Al Kaabi, where art thou?

Emirati said...

Bring on the tanks, its paste making time.

Fahad Al Mahmood said...

For $4 a day .... How should we expect their reaction to be like?

Emirati said...

Peaceful protest, not rioting. Rioting must be pacified.

MD said...

emirati, peaceful protest is a theoretical word that exists only in the outsider's dictionary. when u get paid $4, have a zillion responsiblities and to care for someone's LIFE...then one fine morning, when the weather is perfect...the volcano will just erupt. and u can't dictate the eruption.

Emirati said...

Definetly we cant dictate the eruption, but widescale rioting could become a National Security Risk. Then the Military and Federal Forces get involved, then lots of civilians die unessicarily. The Maintenance of Order is the Prime Objective of the UAE government.

The Volcano can then be pacified with a very big water hose. We will not put up with an ape show like that which happened in france. Anyone that chooses to pursue violence and destabilize the country MUST be deported after serving a jail sentence.

If the Indians were famous for anything, it was Ghandi and his peaceful non violent resistance which kicked out the British.

Let me assure you that if it would have been a widescale incident, it would have been crushed.

Canuck said...

This incident has been carried by the Associated Press and has made all the newspapers in North America and Europe. The article starts with the words "Asian workers angered by low salaries and mistreatment smashed cars and offices in a riot" and goes on to say these workers earn "$4 a day".

Coming hard on the heels of the PR disaster that was DP World, this incident will further harm Dubai's image in the West.

And Emirati, how many protests can you put down with a very big water hose? A very surprising aspect of this protest was "In a sympathy strike, thousands of laborers building a terminal at Dubai International Airport also lay down their tools." (AP)

If other workers start to join in the protests and with 90% of the population being foreigners, you will end up incarcerating and deporting a good portion of the population. Hmmmmmm, not a very good idea.

MD said...

emirati, then as you put it, exploiting people and creating that anger and frustration is the root of the risk to national security. if a company pays the employees well and treats them as a human, then these things won't happen.

BD said...

By the way the article is written, it sounds like the protest/riot/strike erupted spontaneously. Such it seems was the level of pent-up frustration among these workers. I wonder why the frustration level reached such a peak at that particular site at this particular time. Perhaps it has something to do with the sheer scale of the project and the number of workers assembled there.

The irony is that despite the reported $4 per day wages, the laborers on this site are the envy of most other construction workers. Where other laborers share dilapidated accomodations with 10-18 per room, the Al Naboodah Laing O’Rourke workers are reportedly in new accomodations with 3-4 per room and receive better pay on average.

So why were they the ones to erupt in violent protest when others suffer even harsher conditions, sometimes going months without pay. Again, I would suspect that the sheer numbers gathered together on that massive site was enough to empower them.

Despite emirati's alarmed reaction to the apparent violence, the real issue here is that the exploitation of such workers has got to stop. Despite the tendency to look down on such a class of immigrant (or migrant) Dubai needs these people as much as it needs its high paid engineers, if this city of dreams is to be built up as planned.

crash said...

going a bit off-topic.

If it cost more than $4/day to hire a worker to lay bricks - it would translate into higher property costs; making the overall dubai real estate market a whole lot less lucrative for the potential investor/buyer.

um. not that i dont feel sorry for the workers, but most of this is economics of the capitalist world at work.

what do you suggest should be done?

samuraisam said...

crash you mean that they'd actually be able to justify the 150% increases on rent?

Funny thing is, my parents house in Dubai is well over 25 years old, still the rent increases...

MD said...

@crash: true. that's basic economics. higher labour costs are dumped on the product, but you cannot solely consider a labour as a 'cost'. they have a family to support and many other responsibilities that come with it, what can $4 give that person? there are two sides to this. on one hand, you have your economic-perspective and on the other hand, you need to think real.

like sam said, what's the justification of 150% increases? where's the money going, since workers' pockets are only being pinched day by day. it's pure greed, that's what it is. it won't make things last.

BD said...

Responding further to crash's comment, the meagre $4 per day wage is not the critical factor that drives up property costs. This wage is so low that even with an army of workers the cost of labor is but a small percentage of what the properties are being sold for. Consider, for example that one project manager's salary can equal that of 50 laborers. The cost of paper supplies is probably higher than the labor cost on these projects.

The high cost of property in this part of the world has nothing to do with labor costs and everything to do with charging what the market will bear. As long as people from around the world can be enticed into buying property in Dubai, then prices will be high. Undoubtedly someone is raking in huge profits. It may not be the construction companies who hire the laborers--although my guess is that the are in fact making big money on these projects.

Afterall, it is clearly a contractor's market here. So many projects coming up with hardly enough contractors to meet the demand. What developer will not pay the prices the contractors demand if he wants his project built. I say, these construction companies have more than enough excess funds to pay the workers five or six times what they are paying. Cut one project manager's salary in half and double the salary of 25 workers. Better yet, reduce the company owners profit margin by 10 percent and pay triple the salaries of 1000 workers.

I restate, a meagre $4 per day salary, even doubled or trippled, will hardly effect the bottom line. Why would a contractor agree to take on a project that doesn't pay him what he wants when there are a dozen other developers that are so desperate to get their projects built on time that they would wager more in heartbeat--especially for any of the better known contractors. Beliveve me these contractors can command top dollar. Don't even pretend to tell me that they can't pay their laborers more.

Anonymous said...

Emirati - I've seen your posts and they sadden me. Clearly you've never had to live the bad life, and are incapable of sympathizing with individuals who have to support entire families with those $4.
Thats one cup of Starbucks - could you do that? Wouldnt you die a little on the inside when your boss showed up in his gleaming new Mercedes to hand you your paycheck that wouldnt cover the cost of the coffee he has? This sort of social inequity is wrong, like it or not.
Greed at the expense of others will always lead to a backlash. Fix the problem, not the symptom. Propose a humane minimum wage, learn that being a different skin color doesnt make you an inferior human being, being disadvantaged doesnt make you a lesser person (was it not for oil, I think we all know the UAE would be no where near where it is today - look at Yemen to see where things might have been if not for the luck to be sitting on barrels of crude.)

Anonymous said...

I agree that such attitudes as emirati's are unjust.

Crash says that if you pay the workers what they deserve, the cost of the building goes up, so it is less lucrative.

I do not view this as a problem. If you pay more, you can't afford outrageous luxury, so the rich have to make do with a standard of living that's closer to the poor. Those unfortunate, delicate billionaires! What ever shall they do?

When the rich begin to voluntarily share their outrageous fortunes with the poor, so the poor have less reason to riot, so the world becomes balanced again. It's so simple it's really remarkable.

If you ask me, that's the true order that emirati believes can be accomplished by "crushing" people.

Dubai Property said...

It's a pity, but I hope it's temporary. I think construction company will change mind about salary amount. Because this project is very good and it should be finished.

Anonymous said...

This happens a lot in Dubai, poor indian and chinese workers who have had their houses mortgaged back home, working in Dubai so that MR Lebanese "Dgeneral manadger" and his pedicure/manicure wife would drive the best cars and boast in front of the locals. Not only Lebanese, all expats in Dubai see Dubai as a BIG TREASURE CHEST that they can suck out money from as long as they live. I miss the (old) Dubai.

Anonymous said...

Dubai Property I dont think these guys would consider revising the salaries of those poor workers, one way to thank god for the rank he has given u is to GIVE GIVE GIVE, but what those people do is TAKE TAKE TAKE, its always an input, the only output u get from them is the wasted food they have digested by the end of the day.

Dubai has been destroyed, I wish we did not have these goddamn projects, all our lands have been taken up, y do we need to have (the palm)? so that Mr David Beckham would come all the way from England and buy a property here, then when a disaster occurs in dubai, none of those punks is gonna stay here to defend dubai. Y is the government pampering them then?

Anonymous said...

Emirati, y dun u try to live off a daily wage of $4 per day??? let's see how far u get pal ...

Anonymous said...

I lived and worked in dubai for almost two decades... i have seen many a sight where the locals would walk all over indians/ pakistanis/sri lankans.... money is aplenty in dubai but no humanity for fellow humans

Anonymous said...

Dubai has a lot of money but it does not have any class. Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed Al Maktoum (PBUH), the father of modern Dubai who died in 1990, knew how to spend his wholly fortuitous oil wealth wisely (the container port, drydock, DUBAL, Emirates etc.)but I think he would weep to see the frenzied greed of his city today. He was a hands-on man himself, who would often turn up at the Customs house on Dubai Creek to see what was going on. Many of his contemporaries were similar. Dubai has always benefited from cheap labour, from the sub-continent and the Philippines, but perhaps the earlier workers were at least in part compensated by the fact that they were creating something from nothing. To work your body sore in 45 degrees of heat for 14 hours a day to add another drink and drug fuelled brothel to the skyline must seem less worthwhile. Dubai, which has always been adept at playing both hands against the middle (Taliban/Mujahideen/Al Qa'ida financing (there office was round the corner from my flat), US strategic military support eg) to protect its interests should perhaps look at the examples of Iran after the excesses of the shah and the fall of Babylon for clues as to what might be coming next. Dubai should also note that you cannot buy "class" as its neighbour up the road, Abu Dhabi, appears to be attempting with its absurd deal with the Louvre. In all, treat people decently and with dignity and respect, value their contribution and try to build something worthwhile. I undestand the pressures Dubai is under to seal a post-oil future but pinning ones hopes on David Beckham and his like is not the answer.

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