Dubai, A City Built by Slaves?

Dubai Skiing Resort

Dubai Skiing Resort

Largest Hotel in the World

Largest Hotel in the World

Dubai's Artificial Island

Dubai’s Artificial Island

 

 

 

 

Chances are that you’ve heard something amazing about the city of Dubai. Maybe you’ve heard that they built an indoor mountain of snow for skiing in the middle of the desert. Perhaps you’ve heard that they constructed an island for luxury hotels or that they built the largest structure in the world. All of these things are true. However another fact that I’m pretty sure most people haven’t heard about Dubai is that the majority of low wage workers who erected these new structures, are modern-day slaves. Though the words “low wage workers” imply that these men and women make a salary, the truth is that they are slaves from the moment that they arrive. Let me explain what I learned.

After watching a Vice News documentary on youtube.com titled, “Slaves of Dubai” I discovered how these workers become slaves to their employers. The first step is recruiting the future workers in their country of origin. They are told that if they pay a small fee, then they could have the opportunity of working in Dubai. The “small fee” is referred to as a visa fee which supposedly covers the future workers permission to enter Dubai and their air fare. However the truth is that this visa fee is much more than the cost of the plane ticket and that the sole purpose of this fee is to get these future workers to take out a loan. After arriving in Dubai, the workers find that they get half of their promised pay and sometimes, they do not get paid at all.

What’s more, if you complain about the poor living conditions or lack of money, then your passport is revoked. You may find that your wage no longer reaches you but you still work long hard hours in the beating desert sun. The companies charge their “employees” for their living quarters which usually consist of about eight people to one room and forty five people to one bathroom. Most of the workers are paid so little that they find themselves stuck in Dubai with no means of returning home and escalating debt. Though these conditions are illegal in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), they continue to occur. The video that I watched showed a man crying out of desperation, unable to provide for his family back home and unable to return to them. It’s just not right.

Do you live in Dubai or in another city within the UAE? I want to know what your take is on this situation. Do the people in your city recognize this problem, or is it hidden from them and never discussed? Have you ever spoken with a worker from one of these companies? I would love to know if these realities have reached your neighborhood and if anything is being done to stop this. Please let me know what you think.

 

Slave workers in Dubai being transported to their temporary homes outside of the city

Slave workers in Dubai being transported to their temporary homes outside of the city

Slave workers in Dubai living in close proximity

Slave workers in Dubai living in close proximity

Slave workers sleeping in their company provided rooms

Slave workers sleeping in their company provided rooms

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Cannibal Warlord, General “Butt Naked”

Do you remember the last time that you ate a child’s heart so that you could be invincible in battle? Can’t recall ever doing so? Well take a look at this documentary that I found on youtube.com. The documentary was produced by Vice News, a news agency that does in depth reporting across the globe. In this documentary Shane Smith, Vice News co-founder and field correspondent, travels to the west African nation of Liberia to investigate the so called Cannibal Warlords that live there. Let me warn you that the documentary has some strong content.

After exploring several parts of Liberia, Shane Smith lands a shady interview with former General “Butt Naked.” The general, who gave himself the name “Butt Naked”, explains the origin of his name to Shane. He tells the reporter that he chose this name because of his combat strategy during Liberia’s civil war. A strategy in which he would instruct his rebel soldiers to strip down completely before battle. Once fully nude, he would have his soldiers bring an innocent child to him for ritualistic purposes. He would then cut the child’s heart out of his/her chest, while still alive, and have each of his soldiers consume a piece of it. General “Butt Naked” explained to his soldiers that this sacrifice would bring them magical powers in combat and make them invincible. Only then would the General and his soldiers go into battle, while still completely nude I should add. This ritual of sacrifice was repeated before every single battle, thus causing the needless slaughter of hundreds of innocent children during the war.

Today General “Butt Naked” spends his days preaching to his community. He converted to Christianity after the war and now preaches at churches around Liberia about his struggle with his violent past. Former victims of his cannibal rituals say that he converted to Christianity only to avoid punishment for his war crimes. So the former general’s life is now in constant danger of attack from people affected by his military past. According to him these are false accusations. He says that the reason he converted to Christianity was so that he could be a better person and more importantly a better father to his young daughter. Though he takes the full blame for his actions, he recognizes that if his parents would have raised him instead of abandon him, then he might be a different man today. That thought is what motivates him to be a better father and a better person with the help of Christianity.

I tried to put myself in his shoes and imagine what life must have been like for him in Liberia. I wonder what kind of trauma he experienced before deciding that killing children and eating their hearts was the right thing to do. Maybe he’s just a psychopath with no remorse, incapable of distinguishing right from wrong. However it seems odd to me that a person who is incapable of knowing right from wrong would choose to devote the rest of his life to Christianity seeking forgiveness for his sins. The question of whether or not this man should be executed for his crimes remains a mixed issue. Does punishing a person’s ignorance with death solve the issue of ignorance? Does not punishing this man solve the issue of ignorance? I’m not sure what the solution is, if there even is a solution, but what I do know is that this country and its people are completely foreign to me. I will pray for them and hope that change comes sooner than later…

I would love to hear from someone living in Liberia. If you are from there or have family that lives there, please reply to this blog post. I want to hear your story and know what it is like for you as a citizen of Liberia. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Post Sources

cia.gov

youtube.com

Liberia in Africa Liberia with neighbors

Source (Picture 1)                                                                              Source (Picture 2)

 

 

15 Quick Facts about Liberia

Official Language: English (Though only 20% of the population exclusively speaks English)

President: Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, since 2006 (She was reelected in 2011 with 90.7% of the total vote in her favor)

Religion: 85.6% Christian, 12.2% Muslim

Total Population: 4,092,310

Capital: Monrovia

Median Age of Population: 18 years old (U.S. median age: 37 years old)

Sanitation Facility Access: 18.2% of the total population (81.8% with no access to restrooms or sewage infrastructure)

Health Expenditures: 19.5% of GDP

Physician Density: 0.01 Physicians/1000 people (Whatever you do don’t get sick in Liberia)

Education Expenditures: 2.8% of GDP

Total GDP: $2.89 Billion U.S. Dollars (Mark Zuckerberg’s Net Worth: $26.6 Billion U.S. Dollars)

Average Annual Income (Per Person): $700.00 U.S. Dollars (Qatar’s average is the highest at: $102,100 U.S. Dollars)

Privately Owned T.V. Stations: 3

Total Internet Users: 20,000 people (That’s less than 1% of the entire population)

Transnational Issues: Human Trafficking, Drug Trafficking, Civil Unrest, Refugee Disputes with Neighboring Countries