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.