Updated: 15th April, 2006
Migrant workers comprise nearly 90 percent of the workforce in the private
sector in the UAE. Workers are denied even basic rights, confiscate their passports and residence permits or deliberately let residence permits
expire, restricting their freedom of movement and ability to report
mistreatment. many of them are silently accept the exploitation and
deprivation of their rights because they view themselves as powerless and
have little recourse for labour abuses.
View some facts in the following scenes:
Scene 1: Dubai is a jungle of towers. Towers
of glass and steel lined up in rows along the main highways are emblematic
of the power of a king. Billions of dollars are being pumped into
showpiece schemes, malls and hotels and each complete with helipads and
rooftop swimming pools. An ostentatious lifestyle of Arabs.
Scene 2: On the outskirts of the city, where
the desert begins, are the squalid barracks where the workers live,
thousand upon thousand of them crowded into tiny rooms, mostly from India,
Pakistan, and Bangladesh, trying to get some rest after hours of
back-breaking work in the scorching heat of the desert.
Scene 3: "If they pay us, we'll
go home alive. If they don't pay us, we'll go home dead. " The Washington
Post is reporting graphic details about the exploitation of UAE migrant workers,
(a feature about 'Tales of Paradise Lost'!) who work on $4 to $7 a day.
"Either they pay us or send our corpses home," repeats Imtiaz Ahmed Siddiq,
one of the South Asian labourers, who has made the trek to the court more
than 50 times since last year.
Scene 4: Location Sheikh Zayed Road, Dubai,
home to an enormous construction site dominated by a tower, UAE's most
high profile mega-project, the Burj Dubai Tower.
Asian workers angered by low salaries and mistreatment smashed cars and
offices in a riot that interrupted work on what is meant to be
the world's tallest skyscraper, which, when complete, will be the tallest
building in the world at more than 160 storeys.
The Burj Dubai tower is expected to be completed in 2008.
The violence, a couple of thousand rioting workers chased and assaulted
security officers, broke into offices, smashed computers and files, and
destroyed about two dozen cars and construction machines caused an estimated $1 million damage, illustrated the
growing unrest among foreign
workers who are the linchpin of Dubai's breathtaking building boom.
Scene 6: (Climax)
Behind Gold’s Glitter:
Lack of labour rights, wanton abuses combined with poverty, labourers desperate to make a fast buck are quite literally playing
with their lives; they rush into speeding traffic on busy roads hoping
their dependants will inherit the diya (blood money) if they are knocked
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