28 March, 2006

The other, not so pretty, side of Dubai

Link: Independent Online Edition > Middle East

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.

Almost everything is for sale in this part of the United Arab Emirates.
And the eyes of the world are upon us.


Anonymous said...

It's been time that the true "builders" of modern Dubai get their due. Years of mis-treatment, exploitation, low wages and harrasment has pent up like a volcano, only to erupt at a time when the world's eyes are on Dubai. Esp. knowing current news of a Dubai-based company planning to operate a US port, building of the world's tallest scraper, internet city etc. it only makes sense for the elite arabs to give this community their dues.

Lets face it, the arab community in Dubai are about 12% of the population. Even if you remove all expats from office, who do you think would work in their place? More arabs? From where? Other Asians? From where?

The govt. of UAE needs to get it's act together, and get it together fast.

liam said...

maybe it is time for unions to be established here. maybe!

BD said...

I think there's is an element in society--like those with all the wasta--who fear unions for the power it might deprive them of. Then, there are some Nationals I presume who fear their country being taken over by unionized workers.

My response to this is if you're going to have a modern, open societied, not only integrated with the global community, but one that is supposed to act as one of its hubs, then you're going to need a society that functions more fully by the rule of law--international law--including honoring the rights of workers to organize.

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