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15 February, 2005

Turkey Towers

Leading British architects have rather unkind words for some of Dubai's latest skyscrapers. According to Sir Michael Hopkins, the city is "uninspiring architecturally" and a difficult place in which to produce good design.

"In Dubai, it is really hard because not only have you got this terrible stuff going up around you, but it is very hot and there is very little to deal with architecturally."

George Ferguson, president of the Royal Institute of British Architects, is equally unimpressed.

""Hopkins is absolutely right. Dubai is a model of unsustainability. It is exciting for all the wrong reasons. Dubai is like a great theme park."

But life is less of a rollercoaster and more of a road to hell for 1,300 subcontinental labourers unpaid by Road and General Contracting Projects (Rapco) for the past sixteen months. They are living in a remote, desert camp in conditions so squalid that it shocked the UAE Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, Dr Ali Bin Abdullah Al Ka'abi, when he paid a personal visit.

Despite the UAE being a supposed "first world" economy - a rapidly developing, prosperous nation - the Red Crescent Authority is having to supply them with basic foodstuff.

And now some have been arrested for trying to form a union to press their very desperate case.

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