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25 April, 2006

Booming bachelor boys

Dubai: A staggering 236,000 Pakistanis have come to the UAE over the last three years, according to a Pakistani official.

It's not really staggering at all though, is it? Crappy cliches of sleepy fishing villages and booming metropolises apart, while estimates vary quite wildly - the CIA Factbook suggesting 2.6 million and the UAE government claiming over five million - there is no doubt that the sandlands population has rocketed over the past decades.

The vast majority of people living in the United Arab Emirates come from the Indian subcontinent. Local people - emiratis - make up less than twenty per cent of the population and less than ten per cent of the workforce. And these are the known figures, the official figures - spun as high as possible to support the goverment's vision of a nationalised labour market.

So it is hardly remarkable or surprising to learn that around 80,000 Pakistanis are arriving here each year. There are already at least 2.5 million South Asians here legally, and according to sources there are probably a million more living here illegally. Despite regular deportations they continue to arrive en masse.

They live in cramped, often illegal dwellings doing casual, unskilled work. They earn a pittance and they remit most of it home via hawala. They have no access to medical treatment if they get sick, or proper legal representation if they are arrested. Many come here promised jobs and visas but are are left stranded, often passport-less, with huge debts back home from the cost of their "recruitment".

The only staggering thing, to those of us living fat and comfortable lives, is that these subcons still think it is worth it to come here, despite the horrors they inevitably suffer. Staggering to appreciate just how desperate they are for jobs, money, and way to support their families. Staggering to realise that they face an even worse plight in their native countries: they can't just pack up and go home confident of a safety net of welfare, council housing and a national health service once they get sick of the traffic and the system and the rent hikes and the heat and the endless, endless dust.

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24 Comments:

Blogger grapeshisha said...

And some even choose to be here under these pretences. Sneak in, then stay off the system. Halawa, 2nd hand sim cards, half of a bedspace on the concrete floor. And when it is time, they try and get out, without passport and they'll spend some time in the slammer, followed by their air fare home. That's real end of service benefit. Without the underground, where would the UAE be?

25 April, 2006 02:57  
Blogger Cokey said...

Pee on the Sheikhs !!

25 April, 2006 04:27  
Blogger archer14 said...

The tables are turning. It seems professionals from India are choosing to move out. What remains are the older generation of Managers. India is turning into a powerhouse overnight, the stockmarkets are booming. Even low end workers are moving out. I heard of a company who asked their employess if they'd like to work back home @ 6000Rs/month ~approx 520Dhs, and they happily agreed.

25 April, 2006 06:29  
Blogger trailingspouse said...

I find the degree of contrast in Dubai quite disorienting. In a matter of minutes you can drive from the Al Quoz labour camps to the Burj Al Arab, or Bur Dubai souq to Bur Juman Centre. It's like living in two different cities at the same time. I never cease to be humbled by it. But for an accident of birth . . .

25 April, 2006 08:45  
Blogger clayfuture said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

25 April, 2006 10:07  
Blogger clayfuture said...

Does that give construction companies and the sort the right to exploit these people?

"Oh, the poor Asians! They need the job. Let's not pay them for a few months. The local government is helpless. To whom will these people go to? In the meantime, let's finish our 50 storey tower!"

25 April, 2006 10:09  
Blogger Doubleletter said...

Don't forget the rule whereby employees in a company cannot exceed a nationality ratio.

For example, my employer already employs 65%(+) Indians, so new employees have to be Pakistanis or other nationalities which have a lower ratio.

This is Sharjah though, I don't know about Dubai.

Furthermore, as a Pakistani, I can comment that the situation back in the major cities of Pakistan is not _that bad_ economically, but the security situation is worsening.

Indians, on the other hand, can look forward to a very healthy economy and a _relatively_ secure society.

Oh, and what of the middle class, dangling above emptiness ?

25 April, 2006 10:22  
Blogger al-republican said...

The situation in Pakistan is not that bad really; it is, in fact, growing really rapidly. The problem with Pakistan's economic progress (and to some extent India's, too) is that it is at the macro-economic level ONLY. Nothing wrong with that at the outset, but if you consider how abysmal literacy rates are in that part of the World it makes a lot of sense why this "boom" is really not as glittery as it sounds.

India has a middle-class of 300 million people - a figure that is being advocated with a lot of chest thumping - but around 600 million people in India live a very precarious life. You don't find such glaring disparities in the West (there, I said some more good stuff about the West :P).

It is precisely for this reason that most people from India and Pakistan come to places like Dubai. The economic booms back in those countries really isn't bringing them much relief (because they are mostly uneducated and unskilled). Till our countries make a concerted effort in educating the populace, the classical phenomenon of push-pull factors will continue. Meanwhile, our ministers promise us that macro-economic prosperity "trickles down" to the needy in due course of time. But, with the miniscule economics that I know, it should have been the other way round.

25 April, 2006 10:36  
Blogger Shaykhspeara Sha'ira said...

It is tragic. Not to mention the reasons for having to go abroad not always being for the man in question to find a job and build a life, but rather to also support the rest of his family and their extended families, and the costly weddings etc etc etc. It's not just about food, clothes and education. These men are under enourmous pressure, once they leave home. If they fall ill, that's it.

25 April, 2006 12:45  
Blogger hdastoor said...

Educated middle class, free market economy,entreuprenal spirit,democratic government and a population that pushes for reform- India seems a lot like the United States.
India and China until 15-16 th century were the main economies in Asia and now that place has been rightfully restored.
Europe on the other hand unless it reforms is in a perpetual decline.

25 April, 2006 13:11  
Blogger archer14 said...

@al-republican

The economic booms back in those countries really isn't bringing them much relief (because they are mostly uneducated and unskilled).

The boom is infact at its nascent stage. FDI and market privatisation bring in more jobs and earnings do increase, but on a gradual basis, and differs from one industry to another. In a few months, the construction sector is also set to boom. As of now companies here are finding it hard to recruit cheap labour.

The problem with Pakistan is that FDI is practically impossible, Gen. Coup d'├ętat is not really concerned about his nation(obviously), and massive brain drain, even on a microscopic levels.

@hdastoor
India seems a lot like the United States

It does. Only that the concept of health insurance, social security ID, basic healthcare and provision of basic amenities are unheard of. Strip out BPO & FDI and the stock index will plunge. Someones gotta make good use of this 'boom', otherwise its back to basics when the guests leave.

25 April, 2006 13:27  
Blogger Peep said...

A lot of (developing and developed) countries have used (and are still using) cheap labour, be it USA and mexicans or France and north africans. Cheap labour allows to build up stuff cheap and has been and will be one of the growth driving forces in every country. UAE would be much more expensive and less developed without pakistanis, indians and other people from the sub-continent. So I guess it good news that they are available. Bad side is that companies are often exploiting them.

25 April, 2006 14:11  
Blogger Your Man in Dubai said...

SD,

do you know if 'blogger' have an RSS feed as I would like to add your blog to mine but I can't seem to find on on here?

25 April, 2006 15:52  
Blogger DubaiBuy said...

I had a helper (servant/ butler, whatever you want to call for the lack of a better word) who was from india. One fine day he decided to leave because he found some old property papers his dad had bought and they became rich over night.

Regardless of the fact that laborours in india or pak are well off here or there - doesnt it become UAE's social responsibility to provide justice and decent labor rights for these workers? Wouldnt a simple and not too expensive step in providing better living conditions put an end to riots and all this -ve press UAE is getting?

25 April, 2006 17:35  
Blogger samuraisam said...

yourmanindubai:
http://blablablab.blogspot.com/atom.xml

http://secretdubai.blogspot.com/atom.xml

get ze bicture?

25 April, 2006 18:47  
Blogger Your Man in Dubai said...

ta sam.

26 April, 2006 10:16  
Blogger Cokey said...

Dubaibuy,

Dubai's only responsibility is to spend all the expats money in Dubai itself. They dont care about any rights or justice as long as they are being fed with money. Its an obese turning country with the hunger of MONEY !

26 April, 2006 17:14  
Blogger G said...

It's sad to see that people have to work and live in these conditions, but really, every developed economy has gone through this. America was built by African Slaves. Although UAE conditions are not great for labourers, they are much better than when the US developed. And eventually, if the workers stay, they will have rights, as in America, where the decendants of slaves are now treated as they should be, equal citizens.

26 April, 2006 20:17  
Blogger Cokey said...

Mr G !

Its sad to hear your comments. So you believe that these laborers SHOULD go thru mistreatment because every other country goes thru it and Do they deserve it?

Atleast other countries they have Labor Unions..in this fucking ignorant country "NO FREEDOM OF SPEECH." You cant tell that faggot (Sheikh) what he is doing is wrong in newspapers or publicly.

In states it was matter of Black and White. Here its completely pathetic

26 April, 2006 22:08  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

@Cokey

Tell it like it is! If you started your own blog, I'd definately subscribe to it.

26 April, 2006 23:47  
Blogger Frances said...

Eyes of Dubai

Just opened blog, Please Visit.

27 April, 2006 10:45  
Blogger Cokey said...

Hey Shaper85,

How do I create my own blog? Do I need my bassbort coby or license? Lol. But seriously how do I? At what site?

27 April, 2006 16:56  
Blogger Shaper85 said...

I'm not sure on the specifics but you can just go to blogger.com and create a blog once you log yourself in. I only post on other people's blogs so I'm probably not the best person to ask for advice on setting up everything :/

27 April, 2006 19:16  
Blogger Dubai Spy said...

arrite ive made a poor attemp to make my own blog but just a better and spicier version of Secret Dubai. Its called Dubai Spy

dubaispy.blogspot.com

28 April, 2006 21:42  

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