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22 May, 2007

"Sun, sand and slavery"

Leo Hickman, who has written a book about the real cost of tourism, visited Dubai as part of his research. He got to stay at the Burj al Arab for free, but then took a day trip to Sonapur There he spoke to an Afghan called Rahmatula about his life in Dubai:

"By six he is at the building site, where hundreds of luxury villas are being constructed, and immediately starts moving bricks by hand. "I have 15 minutes for my lunch 'hour'," he says. "I always eat roti bread with vegetable curry made the night before, which I bring with me." He says that he's not allowed to stop again, even if he's hot and needs water. If he does, pay will be deducted from his salary. "I've been working here for five years and my salary is now 800 dirhams [£110] a month, but with overtime I get it up to 1,100. I send home 600 dirhams a month," he says with evident pride.

"I can't help looking at his sweat-stained shirt and thinking of the bath-and-caviar service at the Burj al-Arab. It would take Rahmatula more than three months of picking up bricks, I calculate, to earn enough money to pay for such a bath."


Hickman's book, The Final Call, isn't just about Dubai, it looks at the dark side of tourism worldwide. Hickman writes that despite the claim that tourism "nurtures world peace, love and understanding" there is little evidence for this:

"Instead, the bounty is carved up between a select few, while far too many of the industry's workers, particularly in developing nations, are no more than wage-slaves scratching out a pitiful living."

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47 Comments:

Blogger nick said...

I know that it sounds like labourers are getting a raw deal here. However 1,000 Dhs equates to roughly 13,000 Indian rupees, and that is a lot more that what a manual labourer in India would earn, and that's if they have work for continuous periods of time.
I have been to India many times and not only to the big cities but in villages, and living conditions are not a lot better than in Sonapur, if at all.
So what do you suggest - that labourers who come here are by default exploited?
In reality their choice is between exploitation at home and exploitation here - but here at least they can put some money aside.

22 May, 2007 16:18  
Anonymous art from bart said...

Well I do agree with M Hikman, regarding the Slave status of the low wadges workers in the middle east.

But at least they HAVE A CHANCE of an income, I mean what did the west do for them?
Some lousy aids that would last for a few days? If the west even remembers them?

Did any of the western countries even consider offering jobs to such people?

I think Dubai and other areas in the middle east are contributing much more in improving the lives of those people, although in a not so human way, but at least offering them a chance to improve the lives of their families.

22 May, 2007 16:28  
Blogger nzm said...

Coming soon - to a Dubai bookstore near you!

Add one more to the banned books list.

22 May, 2007 16:51  
Anonymous Who-sane said...

Rahmatulla means 'God's Mercy'. Isn't it ironic? don't you think?

22 May, 2007 16:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

H in A says

Very interesting observations above. As much as I hate it, you have to indeed give credit where it is due. Dubai has a vision, and marketing itself like no other country has done before. And they are indeed getting closer to where they want. When growth happens at the rate it does here, things will never be perfect, some will suffer. While the government is aware of this, and not doing much, they also have to support the real estate giants who in turn are co owned by sheikhs. So do not expect them to work wonders for these slaves.
But the real picture is, it is not emiratis who are victimising these slaves. It is people who claim to be contractors/ managers, and construction site managers, who are from the same country as these slaves who are the real slave drivers. It is indians / pakistanis/ afghanis who form the slave drivers, and taught emiratis that these slaves from their own villages are worth nothing, and can be abused. SO why blame the emiratis for this.

Real culprits also are the weak, corrupt or useless embassies from these nations who do nothing for the people they represent in dubai and are suppposed to protect, other than party, send their kids for western education and live in luxury from the money these poor slaves earn and send back home.Uselss governments send useless ambassadors who offer nothing for their citizens.

as for nick, a few visits to India does not make anyone a local economic expert. I have seen people live worse off in new york subways begging, and drug addicted slums of europe than in many third world countries. that is no excuse to come to dubai and get more abused. there were times when a labourer couldnt find 100 rupees in india, times have changed. in fact today even unskilled laborers there can earn upto 300 rupees a day easily if he is willing to work, in construction or whatever. in fact in most places you cant find laborers in india since they are all in dubai. not becos they cant find work back home, but probably becos they do not want people in their town to know they do manual labor, they are proud to be expatriates, and visit every two years and act like local sheikhs

22 May, 2007 18:20  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear Know it all nick,

Most of them (labourers) are tricked into going to DXB. Back in their villages they may have low wages but they are with their families. If they are not feeling well they stay home...besides other things.
BTW one can understand ppl from poor places going abroad for better prospects its puzzling when ppl for the most developed places too got to the desert! Perhaps these don't have much success at home.

22 May, 2007 19:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Looking at the labourers' situation in economic terms - they chose to move here because they can make more money here, ergo no blight on the greatest marketing story of our age - says you've lived in Dubai for too long. Being a labourer here means living like a monk. It's possible to put money aside, yes, but that requires putting everything else aside, too. Listen to these guys describe their situation. It's sad and they know it. I generalize because their stories are all the same.

22 May, 2007 19:48  
Blogger Emirati said...

Well, the logic is that although people are being 'exploited', people can earn money to feed themselves and we do not have to resolve to Euro-Socialist ideals which lead to countries that cannot function.

Many an unskilled labour has put his kids though college and built a house because the UAE gave him a job.

22 May, 2007 23:49  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Its better to do something and make a change rather than just whining about it here. If one of u is an engineer or a manager in one of these construction company, why not trying to make working environment better for those labourers. If you are a CEO why not making a raise and bonuses and sacrifice some of the profits, which I would expect will be a negligible loss. Why not making a fund raise for such workers, and at least provide them with healthy meals, or buy them medicine that they might need. Just spending time talking about negative things in our life won't change anything, if u really care be a proactive and do something, thats what will count at the end.

23 May, 2007 05:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

'Many an unskilled labour has put his kids though college and built a house because the UAE gave him a job.'

You make it sound as though wealth has been handed down from the Gods to the UAE through generations.

Or could be you forget whence you come from!

Arrogance is good but only if applied at the right place, & at the right time of which I'm sure you have no clue of either!

23 May, 2007 08:04  
Anonymous sam said...

Nick, better do you homework. the truth is, these labourers are often tricked into coming here. Most of these guys do not know the working conditions here and for them Dubai means a big cash pot. the sell land, jewellery, mortgage stuff to pay for their visa, ticket and other charges and are promised good wages, living conditions and other perks. Ask any of these guys and theirs is a sad story of being cheated. once here, they cannot choose between going back home or staying here. Working here brings no savings and going back they have to pay back their debts. Inspite of this as said, many have put their children thru to college.... living like monks or worse. I personally know of guys who have been cheated their way here. Yes, for people like you and me, UAE has been kind enough and a blessing too.... but not for majority of the labourer class.

I don't suggest that labourers who come here are by default exploited. It is true that they are thouroughly exploited by all involved, right from the sponser...the owners....the managers.... who ever......

Last week I saw a lady in a 4 wheeler with kid giving away bags of rice to the construction workers waiting for their bus on Al Wasl road.

Do your bit Nick....to help them...

And Emarati.... UAE has screwed up the lives of hundreds of thousands of labourers / construction works by giving them poor and dangerous working conditions, low salaries, high exploitation.... and you....enjoy the boom......

23 May, 2007 09:57  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emirati - 23:49:
Well, isn't the UAE public sector pretty much the epitome of the Euro-Socialist model?

23 May, 2007 11:51  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 19:11

You said
"Most of them....are tricked into going to DXB. Back in their villages they may have low wages but they are with their families. If they are not feeling well they stay home......"

yes, that's true. They may be with their families, but the families starve. - It must be great to starve together?!

You said
"BTW one can understand ppl from poor places going abroad for better prospects its puzzling when ppl for the most developed places too got to the desert! Perhaps these don't have much success at home."

That old hat again. Most Westerners also come here for the money which is still better than at home. What's wring with that. besides, competition for every job in Dubai is so stiff, only the best qualified are considered.

23 May, 2007 12:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nick (23 May, 2007 12:17 )


That old hat again. Most Westerners also come here for the money which is still better than at home. What's wring with that. besides, competition for every job in Dubai is so stiff, only the best qualified are considered.

If pay in a developed country is less than a third world country. wonder why it is called so. Unless a someone who does not get a decent job in a developed country goes to the desert & lands a big job! Of course nothing worng in that! thats the way of the world!
All the best!But remember it does not take much to change situation, If you mock the less those fotunate; you may find yourself in a similar situation. If you cannot help them don't but it would be unwise to laugh at their plight!

23 May, 2007 16:42  
Blogger nick said...

@ sam
I have done my homework. Our construction company employs over 2,000 of these labourers. Last year we had a situation where more than 400 workers we sponsored and brought over from India absconded within three days after arrival - without having started work even. Why, because they can earn more illegally, but that's another discourse. The cost of visa and tickets was borne by us, not to mention the heavy fine the ministry imposes ON THE company if a worker absconds. This happens very often across the industry - so much for exploitation and tricking workers into coming to Dxb.
You wonder why I bring this up?
Because this explains why passports are kept with the companies. This explains the climate of mistrust between labourers and employers. Most workers we can get form overseas are unskilled labour. There is plenty of work in India right now, and skilled workers can earn more there than here.
We spend months and lots of money training people - and then they run away.
So please give me a break with your onesided trade union talk.

@ Anon at 23 May / 16:42

I don't know what kind of western expats you know -the ones I know had good jobs at home and came here as a life style choice AND to be able to afford their children a good education in a safe environment.
All of us expats give something up when we come here; unrestricted and uncensored freedom of speech, electoral rights etc.
This is quite clear to everyone who comes here. Life as an expat is a contract. It has conditions, and a completion date. For Labourers and engineers alike. Take it or leave it.

23 May, 2007 18:15  
Blogger nick said...

@ sam
I forgot to say. I DO my bit: I give them work!

23 May, 2007 18:17  
Blogger bklyn_in_dubai said...

these poor, poor employers, forced to hold on to passports (illegally) because of the intransigence of the shifty brown workers. who were usually given contracts in s. asia for double the amount, then through the magic of bait and switch end up with their dh 600 or so a month. they should be grateful, they're being given jobs. the employers are humanitarians.

ok, enough sarcasm. the relevant point is not that these guys make more in dubai than they do in india and that they can remit money and put kids through college. (it is true.) the important point, which time and again escapes seemingly thoughtful types in the uaec, is that for dubai the pay is crap, is less that what was originally agreed upon, and living conditions are crap. the government does not look out for the workers, except insofar as to keep tabs on them and to deport troublemakers. any dispute between labor and the company is almost always resolved in favor of the company. there is no minimum wage here even though 1980 uae law requires it. a minimum wage for such a wealthy country makes sense. in the US we have a minimum wage, inadequate as it is. it keeps people from saying inanities like "those mexicans are used to living on 2 dollars a day, so it's great for them if they get 5." well, having a national minimum wage of 5.15/hr (more in many states) lowers the wage fraud (though there is still much work that is paid below minimum wage). a minimum wage for all workers of, say, dh 10/hr, would go a long way to making a more equitable situation. dubai wants to be a big boy, well, taking care of your people (like it or not, expats, while in dubai, are also its people) is essential. even the americans do it. 90% of the world has one. dubai should too.

quick ILO info on minimum wage: http://www.ilo.org/public/english/protection/condtrav/pdf/infosheets/w-1.pdf

23 May, 2007 18:52  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Last year we had a situation where more than 400 workers we sponsored and brought over from India absconded within three days after arrival - without having started work even. Why, because they can earn more illegally, but that's another discourse.

I recognise how hard this must be, particulary as you are one of the few employers that did bear the recruitment costs - though it is the employer's duty to do so, many companies don't.

I wonder though if the recruitment process was less transparent on the Indian side? Against your knowledge/direction, these men may have been promised more by local Indian recruiters than the reality when they arrived. Whether money, or the type of skilled labour. Is it even possible that that middlemen managed to get into the process and take fees off these men without your knowledge?

400 men willingly giving up paid employment is a large number: it suggests a serious mismatch between their expectations and the reality. For every illegal worker doing well here there are many others furtively cleaning cars for a couple of dirhams a time in the hot sun; knocking door to door to get cleaning work, and so forth. It's not an easy life.

I'm not laying blame at your door, but there must be some reason why such a high number left.

23 May, 2007 19:56  
Blogger secretdubai said...

And just one more thought: is it possible that they were poached by another construction company with promises of higher pay? I have no clue if this goes on, but it seems possible.

23 May, 2007 19:57  
Blogger Emirati said...

Funny you should mention that. Many Americans have to hold down two jobs in places like detroit in order to even begin to feed their families.

A minmum wage only made life more expensive for americans, and did not have the effect desired, which was to improve the quality of life. For that to happen, you would have to theoretically keep increasing the minimum wage again and again.

That leads to inflation, which gets us back at square one.

To other readers,

Most of you do not honestly give a shit about the labourers. You apparently come home tired from work and need something to gripe about.

Many journalists, including this one, talk about issues they know little if anything about.

If he did a bit of reasearch, he would find that the UAE is the easiest country in the world for any expat to get a job in. You cant go apply for a job, an opportunity to improve your life as in Canada or the USA as easily as in the UAE.

That opportunity exists here.

Now when we talk about the laborers being tricked into coming here or having to take loans to pay their way through, these are mainly the cause of recruitment agents operating in India and Pakistan and other countries. This falls within the jurisdiction of those governments, which dont crack down on them because they are corrupt and inefficient beauraucracies.

23 May, 2007 19:58  
Blogger bklyn_in_dubai said...

minimum wage has definitely improved life for workers in the US, no matter what supply side economists may moan about. and inflation is not such a bad thing for workers -- things cost more sure, but wages go up. it's the companies and conservatives in the gov't who worry mostly about inflation bc it threatens profits, which don't trickle down to me anyways.

ultimately it is uae-based recruiting companies, or the uae-based companies themselves that are responsible for abiding by uae laws regarding who pays for those fees, as it is only uae companies that can give the visas. a recruitment agency official in dubai told HRW "migrants will bear the visa and travel costs. we will collect these fees from candidates and pay it to construction companies who apply for their visa. it is o course illegal and i can't put it on a written contract; it is done in cash. we do it all the time." (HRW 11/06 report, Building Towers, Cheating Workers, p 27).

23 May, 2007 21:03  
Blogger nick said...

@ Brooklyn:

You say: “who were usually given contracts in s. asia for double the amount, then through the magic of bait and switch end up with their dh 600 or so a month “

I thought you were a serious researcher, so don’t through claims about like this, I want you to corroborate this claim and show me one of these contracts where double the sums were promised BY THE END-EMPLOYER! (not the agency). See also my reply to Secret’s comment below with regard to this.


With regard to your main point of minimum wages: you are pissing up the wrong tree, and here’s why.

I don’t know about the US, so I have to compare Europe (UK) and UAE.
Contractors have about the same profit margins (before tax) here as they have in Europe. But construction costs in Europe are approx. 4 times higher than here, because of salaries and overheads, not material costs (remember that contractors / clients can reclaim VAT on new build projects, so costs are similar to here).
Sales values however are much higher here compared to construction cost than in Europe, by about 50%.
What I am getting at is that the real benefactors are the clients and owners, not the contractors.
And it happens that most of the clients and owners are those who make the laws here.

So unless you tell me to drop my profit margin altogether and pass this on to our labourers, don’t expect any changes in the laws regarding minimum wage anytime soon.


@ Secret:
You are right. We do recruit from agencies in India and do not know what the labourers are promised, nor is it our responsibility to control this. If fraud occurs then this is as it has been said by Anonymous, a matter for the Indian courts.

24 May, 2007 10:43  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Emirati said:

Now when we talk about the laborers being tricked into coming here or having to take loans to pay their way through, these are mainly the cause of recruitment agents operating in India and Pakistan and other countries. This falls within the jurisdiction of those governments, which dont crack down on them because they are corrupt and inefficient beauraucracies.


I've gotta strongly agree with him on this point. While there's plenty of blame to be laid on the doorstep of a lot of people, it begins with the recruiters who mislead their clients with promises of gold lined streets. I'm sure if one were honest we'd discover these guys who recruit their country men make a lotta money doing so. I'm sure the companies do, as well, so such workers get screwed twice over.

24 May, 2007 10:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick,

U.A.E and its agents exploit there laborers with false promises and inhuman treatment. If you leave the afghan guy mentioned here, majority of them get AED 500(Rs.5500) per month. Since they pay large amount to their official agents to get here. They are caught in between. Many of them were not even paid for months together.

In India earning Rs.5500/- is possible now and there are many organizations and political parties who can represent them. But who will raise their issue here? So called civilized and democratic patrons called west ?i don’t think so!!Its our problem and Let us deal with it in our own way mutually..

You don’t feel it because you are doing the exploitation in the other way around…Most Westerners find plum high level jobs here because their western governments like US and UK black mail the Middle East governments for oil contracts, business deals etc by playing the democratic, shia-sunni good old divide and rule policy etc.

Why does the west put sanctions on Myanmar dictators and not on oil rich middle east dictators?? well the warning is if you cross the line…remember a guy called Saddam!!

Where are the so called western values of human rights, democracy, free ,fair and equal rights etc when you work here . Oh..i forgot another of your great value system...self interest and Double standards!

if you look at US,UK,AUS,NZ,EU history their empires were formed and wealth was created on the basis of exploitation of local people and occupation.

Tony Blair during iraq war :"our nation was always at its best when we are aggressive".(Look at the organic economic growth of UK before and after the Iraq war!!)

I think its time for the western world to start walking their talk and building a thing called civilization before lecturing others.

24 May, 2007 10:59  
Blogger nick said...

@ Secret:
Let me reply regarding absconding and illegal work.

Doing illegal work is more profitable. Take my gardener. He works hard and long hours in various houses but manages his own time and makes about 1,800 Dhs a month. He lives with twenty mates in dismal conditions on a farm in Kawaneej. He pays 500 Dhs to his gang master for accommodation, which leaves him with 1,300 and that is far more ( almost 50%) than he would have if he worked legally, which would amount to 700 – 900 after accommodation charges.
All he needs is a company to bring him here *). We actually considered re-branding our business from construction to Travel and visa agency :)

*) If at all. Our gardener arrived on a boat in the UAE somewhere in Musandam via Iran. He has no passport.

24 May, 2007 11:06  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 24 May / 10:59


You say “ But who will raise their issue here? So called civilized and democratic patrons called west ?”
No, the answer is: the Indian, Pakistani, Phillipine governments / embassies first and foremost beacsue their citizens are being abused, allegedly.

You say “Most Westerners find plum high level jobs here because their western governments like US and UK black mail the Middle East governments for oil contracts,...”

The exploitation of workers rights benefits the UAE foremost, not the western countries and expats.
And for your information: 62% of UAE crude oil and almost 100% of its gas goes to Japan, not Europe or US. In terms of import trade by value, Asian countries have the greatest share of the market, European countries are next with the US in third place.
[Source: http://www.uae.gov.ae/Government/trade.htm]

I am sick and tired of being accused of having a plum job here just because I am a white European. I am here because a local company thought I was best qualified and was willing to meet my demands, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. It’s called meritocracy.

24 May, 2007 13:14  
Blogger bklyn_in_dubai said...

point of clarification from those who know about contracting. how do we square nick's problems of margins with this from the HRW report (http://hrw.org/reports/2006/uae1106/5.htm#_ftn44):

"The managing director of a construction company in the UAE told our researcher that “depending on the type and size of the companies, some contractors find themselves facing cash flow problems due to a variety of reasons. During the nineties, contractors worked on very low margins (2-3 % of revenue) and thus maintaining cash flow was essential for their survival. It has often been that contractors working for the government sector found themselves waiting for 120 to 180 days to get paid which meant a major cash squeeze. To add insult to injury, contractors were not regulated properly in terms of financial ability and there are still no credit ratings for companies in this part of the world. All this has since changed in the UAE as of 2004 when the construction boom started in Dubai creating perhaps an unprecedented oasis for contractors. Demand has outstripped supply to such a large extent that every contractor I am aware of is working on very high margins. Long gone are the days that contractors wait for payments.” Email correspondence with managing director of a construction company, identity withheld, August 25, 2006."

have margins gone back down?

as for recruitment fees, i have this further question. even if it is indian companies charging migrants (sorry, temporary guest workers) the fees, are the companies in uae not bound by uae law (in the theoretical, not practical sense, since the gov't is not going to call them on it) forbidding the practice? and how often is it that it's local companies in the countries of origin, rather than uae based recruiters?

more detail on this from the hrw report:

"The UAE’s Labor Law No. 8 of 1980 (the federal law regulating labor relations throughout the country—see the section “UAE Labor Law,” above) permits only UAE nationals who are licensed by the Ministry of Labor to sponsor migrant workers. This applies to employers who directly recruit migrant workers as well as to those companies who act as intermediaries in the recruitment process.30

Under the UAE Labor Law, employers must pay certain fees to the government for each foreign worker they recruit into the country. These fees include an employment visa request fee of 200 dirhams (AED)($55) and an employment visa issuance fee of 1,000 AED ($273).31 In addition, employers must provide an airline ticket to migrant workers to travel from their home countries to the UAE.

UAE law explicitly forbids UAE recruiters from collecting any fees from prospective migrant workers.32 However, UAE recruitment agents appear to openly flout this law, charging workers these fees instead of requiring the prospective employer to bear the cost. Our researchers talked to five recruitment agencies in the UAE regarding the recruitment of construction workers. Four of these five agencies confirmed that they expect workers to pay for the visa and travel fees that UAE law requires only employers to pay. One recruiter told our researcher that prospective “candidates [migrant workers] will bear the visa and travel costs. We will collect these fees from candidates and pay it to construction companies who apply for their visa. It is of course illegal and I can’t put it on a written contract; it is done in cash. We do it all the time.”33 According to another recruitment agency in Dubai, “We [the agency] will take care of transportation, advertisement, and other costs. We can charge the candidates. People who are candidates will cover all the costs including visa fees and air tickets.”34 A third agent said, “I can provide a company with ten, hundred, or even a thousand workers. We will interview and select them in India and Pakistan. For unskilled workers, we don’t charge the employers anything. The candidates will pay for visa and transportation costs.”35"

how many companies are like nick's that DO NOT actually charge the workers these fees?

as for the workers absconding, how often has the gov't actually fined you? and how often have companies been cited for the illegal confiscation of worker's passports? which as an aside is very interesting since the passport is not the property of the individual, but of the government of ...

24 May, 2007 18:34  
Blogger nick said...

@ Brooklyn:
"how do we square nick's problems of margins with this from the HRW report"
What the report says about the nineties is correct to my knowledge.
However, what I said was that the margins now are about the same as in Europe / UK.
I am not going to tell you how much :)
The difference is of course that contractors here get paid because they are in demand and clients have to 'secure' the services of contractors. What's the problem with making money? An employer will always pay only as much as it takes to get and retain staff, whilst remaining competetive. Not one fils more.
(Whereas in the UK consultants and contractors get paid because contracts normally incorporate statutory provisions like the Housing Grants and Regeneration Act which regulates payments within certain prescribed periods.)

-----------------------------------

"as for recruitment fees, i have this further question. even if it is indian companies charging migrants (sorry, temporary guest workers) the fees, are the companies in uae not bound by uae law"
Yes, they are if they are local UAE agencies. The practices you describe further are common and yes, this contravenes law.
However MANY construction companies like ours recruit directly IN India and arrange visa and transport here. You could say we 'import' them directly. The agency in India handles the pre-selection of personnel and we pay them a fee. I don't think that they charge applicants additional fees, and even if they did it's not our business. (It would only show how keen workers are to come to the UAE).
Overall this works out cheaper for us than going via a recruitment agency here in the UAE.

24 May, 2007 20:41  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

H in A says

Now that we have beaten the finer points of law to death, i say that many of the slaves ( not all) here deserve what they get. Many are educated, maybe even to college in India. They chose to come from places like India maybe not knowing what they shd expect. First mistake. Ask. Listen. Before you start. and realize how bad the shit is they are getting into.

There is no easy money in life. Second mistake. They think they will become millionaires overnight. These people, and i swear all of them ( sorry to disappoint your "saving their souls" routine nick) will and can find jobs back in India if that is where they come from. But they will need to work. And to show some initiative. And some ability to think. And take some risks. There are enough jobs going around, whether it is in farms or construction or factories or drivers or office help or whatever. And no one really starves to death in india anymore, sorry, it is only in movies. These miserable people will not work as any of these in their own society since it is below their educated dignity. They can slave, in unknown societies like the gulf, and they hold their head down hoping no one sees them. Even if they came here on debt, many can leave this shit,go back and work their way out of it.They choose not to. And then live here for their rest of the life, trying to get rich.
They need to respect themselves, and if they think they deserve more, then show self respect, leave this, and then others will show respect to them. Till then expect no difference.

As for ALL recrutiters, contractors/ builders, and investors, the less said the better. All deserve contempt for the way the abuse is done, and heads are turned other way. Forget salary, how else can you justify cutting 100 dhs for food from salary of 650 ( yes the brit author got it wrong, most dont make more than 650), and also not providing decent place fit for life,with no protection from heat. Yes, I do believe the people who come here for this kind of money deserve contempt.For letting themselves down.With current inflation and lifestyle in India, they cant even buy underwears with that money.

24 May, 2007 22:07  
Anonymous Canuck said...

Folks.......

Allow me to shift the focus of the discussion here for a moment, from the down-trodden workers to this sentence in Mr. Hickman's article:

" Yet, according to last year's United Nations report Global Deserts Outlook, the United Arab Emirates, of which Dubai is a part, is now one of the most "water-imperilled" nations in the world, while also one of the most water-hungry."

This is a most sobering statement and, if true, can have devastating consequences on the lives of everyone living in the UAE. There is no doubt that the massive developments taking place in Dubai will put considerable strain on the country's water resources.

What, if any, steps has the UAE taken to conserve water? Are there plans in place to prolong the country's water resources? Desalinating the Gulf's water is, surely, not a sustainable option.

I am a Canadian living in Dubai, and while my country has the world's largest reserves of water (and, incidentally, the world's second-largest reserves of oil), back home we are constantly exhorted to save water.

24 May, 2007 22:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ nick

"An employer will always pay only as much as it takes to get and retain staff, whilst remaining competetive. Not one fils more."

No use wailing about your absconding workers. Now you know: You were unable to retail your staff! Your source of bitterness is understandable, perhaps your employer are having doubts about your merits?" All the best, may your problems be solved. And be nice to the poor guys!

25 May, 2007 13:00  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nick,

Nice try….but what you said is not the complete truth.

For your education read a book called :( 'Building Towers, Cheating Workers” by Hadi Ghaemi )in this regard. Having said that UAE has given opportunities to many people to excel…I mean

If you read my comment ,I never asked you to raise the issue personally or your advise …since I know it will be easy and convinient to you to ask the respective governments to act. And you and me know these so called third world countries cannot and dosen’t have the political and economic capital to complain and protest after a certain point.

Since you like to advise other governments and says it benifts UAE,How many western managers have protested and taken this issue with their governments/their pet organisations?(I ask this because your own and run the UN,IMF,WORLD BANK etc(no democractic elections here based on numbers)…and with it comes your so called sister humanitarian organisations.

The point is not how much UAE is exporting to whom,the point is how many contracts are there with western companies which produce these oil and gas. lets not kid our selfs…most of the.westerners are here to exploit,party and play ..

But..You conveniently avoided my questions regarding your western heritage (business,exploit,occupy,kill and rule) of USA,UK,AUS,NLZ,EU etc.aslo recently seen in Iraq.

Well, I don’t know how mediocre or smart you are, but i will bet that there are a lot of guy who can do your job for a lot less than what your are extracting extra on the basis of your “heritage’.

28 May, 2007 10:39  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 28 May / 10:39

I read your comments a couple of times and still can't figure out exactly what you are trying to bring across, but let me address those points I got.

"...And you and me know these so called third world countries cannot and dosen’t have the political and economic capital to complain..."

You are 100% mistaken here. India and Pakistan have more political and economic clout thatn the UAE can ever hope to have. The real reason for the quiet acceptance of these practices here in the UAE is that India and Pak do not want to sour relations with one of their more important trade partners. India has no interest in the welfare of their manual labourers IN India, so what interest would they have in the exploitation of a few Indian labourers in Dubai.
---------------------------
"How many western managers have protested and taken this issue with their governments/their pet organisations"
As you are aware Human Rights Watch just tabled a critical report on the subject, so someone in the West is obviously observing.
Amnesty International are also very outsspoke in their criticism of some practices in the UAE.
Apart from that it is hardly the responsibility of Western managers to voice their concerns. After all, we are very busy playing golf, don't you know?
Btw. "Exploit, Party & Play" has a good ring to it. Do you mind if I use that for my next recruitment drive in the UK?
-------------------------

"But..You conveniently avoided my questions regarding your western heritage (business,exploit,occupy,kill and rule) of USA,UK,AUS,NLZ,EU etc.aslo recently seen in Iraq."

Don't get you knickers in a twist. You are mistaken here:
Out of the countries you mention only Britain has an illustrious history in managing Middle Eastern countries and their oil exploration.
I remind you of the First and Second Afghan wars, the Sykes-Picot agreement, the installation of a Jordanian as Iraqi king (quite a feat, don't you agree?!), the invasion of Iran and then the toppling of a communist stooge in Iran....
The US are comparatively new kids on the block.
They have still a lot to learn from Britain, although they have quite mastered the art of botching up.

28 May, 2007 15:27  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

@ nick
"Exploit, Party & Play" has a good ring to it. Do you mind if I use that for my next recruitment drive in the UK?"

Typical! Use somebody else's itelligence! And it has worked amazinly well.
btw you forgot to comment on the last point.

"Well, I don’t know how mediocre or smart you are, but i will bet that there are a lot of guy who can do your job for a lot less than what your are extracting extra on the basis of your “heritage’."

Pls enlighten those who are in the dark...

28 May, 2007 23:41  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anonymus 28 May, 2007 23:41

"Well, I don’t know how mediocre or smart you are, but i will bet that there are a lot of guy who can do your job for a lot less than what your are extracting extra on the basis of your “heritage’."

Sorry mate, that chip on your shoulder must be wearing you down. I feel for you.

It doesn't matter how mediocre or smart I think I am.
Obviously my boss thinks that I am smart because otherwise why would he pay me more than an Indian engineer??

29 May, 2007 16:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

zDubai is not a meritocracy Nick.

Heritage may have nothing to do with your pay-scale, but your citizenship has everything to do with it. An Indian born, Indian educated, US/British/Canadian-passport holder will always make more money than an Indian born, American educated, Indian passport holder.

Care to comment?

30 May, 2007 13:37  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nick
since you raised the topic of british..

90 % present day world problems are created by british rom africa to asia and middle east.The rest of them like Iraq by their present PM who goes to wars and destroyed another nation by telling lies…and the people elect him again.

Its another story an Indian lawyer called Gandhi finished the empire and confind it to the present day small banana republic like island called UK.Otherwise god knows how many more atrocities they would have commited.

It’s a shame that you used the term..’Managing middle eastern countries ?hallo that’s called meddling in their internal affars and occupation…like what you are doing in Iraq.

In iran you removed communist govt, and installed Shah the dictator…and created Iran-Iraq war and supported a dictator ..UK’s role in suez crisis are wellknow…..so poodle dictator plus oil contracts equals to democracy and human rights.result of that system is unrest and terror.

The isreali-Palestine conflict was classic case of divide and rule adopted by british in 1936,In which 5000 arabs were dead at that time and still…going on…

So bottom line is you are benificiaory of system which became wealthy by opressing and exploting others for centuries.So you will try to defend it under the cover of democracy,oil exploration and meritocracy etc.

You may be smart professional,but I think your comments towards the plight of labourers is too judgmental and insensitive.what made you an expert to issue comments like “India has no interest in the welfare of their manual labourers IN India”, ”In reality their choice is between exploitation at home and exploitation here” -.It looks like you have never spoken to one of these cheated labourers and heard their stories, and you have no idea of what is going on in India…you just made these sweeping statments just because you can.

30 May, 2007 18:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"The West won the world not by the superiority of its ideas or values or religion but rather by its superiority in applying organized violence and Exploitation . Westerners often forget this fact, non-Westerners never do" - Samuel Huntington

31 May, 2007 10:13  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 30 May, 2007 18:45

"It’s a shame that you used the term..’Managing middle eastern countries ?hallo that’s called meddling in their internal affars and occupation…like what you are doing in Iraq."

Exactly. That's why I used the term in a sarcastic assessment of historic reality. Nobody is denying Britain's role in the Middle East.


Be careful whom you quote, you might shoot yourself in the foot. Here's another quote from Samuel Huntington's "Clash of Civilizations':
"Islam's borders are bloody and so are its innards. The fundamental problem for the West is not Islamic fundamentalism. It is Islam, a different civilisation whose people are convinced of the superiority of their culture and are obsessed with the inferiority of their power."

Until this reality changes we will have to continue to 'meddle' in order to avoid the conflict to reach our doorsteps.
Huntington may realistically assess the role of Western influence in the Eastern hemisphere
but only in order to exonerate the particular role individual nations. That's his trick. He is not 'against' exerting influence.

"So bottom line is you are benificiaory of system which became wealthy by opressing and exploting others for centuries."

Yes. Sue me.

31 May, 2007 13:19  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 30 May, 2007 18:45

"Its another story an Indian lawyer called Gandhi finished the empire and confind it to the present day small banana republic like island called UK."

You are right, the UK is a small island (actually it spreads over two islands, for your info.)

Banana republic? Let's have a look shall we at WTO trade profiles (2005):

Rank in world trade
UK:
export: No.7
import: No.5

India:
export:No. 29
import: No.17

Trade per capita:

UK: USD 18,815
India: USD 235 (yes, two hundred thirty five)

Seems in your school books they replaced the words 'civilized developed country' with 'banana republic'.

31 May, 2007 13:39  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 30 May, 2007 18:4

"It looks like you have never spoken to one of these cheated labourers and heard their stories, and you have no idea of what is going on in India…you just made these sweeping statments just because you can."

(Please see my first comment, right on top.)

Yes, because I can.
I can make statements like these because I have been to India and am aware of poverty in rural areas and because 90% of our staff is South Indian and I talk to lots of them every day.

If you really must reply to this why don't we talk about the exploitation of poor 'low' caste Indians at the hands of 'upper' caste middle class Indians, both here in the UAE and India.

Don't throw stones if you sit in a glass house, Dear.

31 May, 2007 13:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nick,

Well glad that you have accepted UK's negative role in the middle problems.

But I am really surprised the way which you proudly compared UK and India in GDP, trade etc in figures and forgot a figure 400 yes,British ruled India and stole its wealth for nearly 400 years and India is independent only for the last 60 years.

You went on to add” don’t throw stones ..”etc.Lets see who is throwing stones at who..

Need to know where we were before UK came to India?

Revenues of India’s(At the time of Akbar empire) were 1600 at £17.5 million, in contrast with the total revenue of Great Britain in 1800, which totalled £16 million. An estimate by Cambridge University historian Angus Maddison reveals that India's share of the world income fell from 22.6% in 1700, comparable to Europe's share of 23.3%, to a low of 3.8% in 1952. UK is economically totally dependent on India by 19th century.Yes India got indipendence from British in 1947 with a politically divided country, bankrupt economy and social unrest.

Indias have every right to say that UK is the reason for this economic decline, yet we are not just sitting there and complaining. cut the flash back and look at the present scenario....

India is now the fourth largest economy in terms of purchasing power parity.

In 1999, Predictione are that India's GDP in current prices will overtake France and Italy by 2020, Germany, UK and Russia by 2025 and Japan by 2035. By 2035 it is expected to reach as 3rd largest economy of the world behind US and China[4]. Goldman Sachs has made these predictions based on India's expected growth rate of 5.3 to 6.1% in various periods, whereas India is registering more than 9% growth rate(9.2% first quarter of 2007). However the same report also shows there is large variation in its predicted gauging growth between 1960–2000, 7.5% predicted India's annual growth rate compared to the real value of only 4.5% during that period.

So is too early to celebrate, lets wait and see.

Don’t take banana republic comment to your heart,I meant it in a sarcastic way that UK lied(45 min. threat and WMD) and went into the iraq war like a small island nation/country ruled by a authoritarian.Its nothing to do with its small size or stronge economy.

04 June, 2007 18:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

India is the world largest democracy and was formed under the principles of secularism , unity in diversity. Any type of minor discrimination of caste or religion is a crime as per the law. The caste problem is a issue completely misunderstood and exaggerated by you.

The largest Indian state UP(bigger population than the UK,Germany and france together) is ruled by an so called lower caste person and she was elected with the support of all castes including so called higher castes mentioned by you. So your attempt of higher vs lower caste is from a colonial hangover.

in India ….Indian prime minister(the single most poweful person in Indian system) is a SIKH, a minority person and his party chief is an Italian born western Christian women ,our president is a Muslim, our military general is another minority( there is no Hindu in the helm of the affairs in a country with 80% of them are Hindus of a1 billion population…it explains Indian civilization and its culture, tolerance,inclusivness, freedom, democracy and broad mindedness.

can you match that in UK or in any other western country by electing a Muslim or a minority person as a Prime Minister or president. Its too much too ask UK…at least elect a N.Irish person. Not a chance.

We all know about the racist treatment you give to blacks and other religious minorities in your societies, so Stop looking at others issues with a magnifying glass and try first reform your western societies before lecturing.

04 June, 2007 18:35  
Blogger V C Vijay said...

Dear Nick,

Basically Iam from Dubai working for a renowned company.
Iam also from India, thank God Iam blessed with a good job and Iam ivolved in our church ministries.
What you had mentioned is very true.
Earlier we use to go for camp visits ( camps: where these workers stay,10-12 of them dumped in a single room. Even sometimes shipping containers are converted in to make-shift room ). We visit people regularly and share their greifs and pains they are passing through. Some stories are even painful that tears will run through our cheeks. The man you had mentioned about is luckily for he is getting 800dhs per month being a Afgan. Some indians are there just getting 400-500 dhs permonth. In which they have to pay their rent and mess around 250 dhs. Just 200 in hands they cannot do anything...some lose their passport and get stranded in the landed job and will spend rest of their life inside UAE itself with seeing their families for decades. Its true that because of the real-estate boom here standard for the poor has gone down. But for till which time. Rulers should think about the past when their forefathers were selling fishes and dried fishes in the gulf shore for their living , setteled in tents and huts.
These poor asians are the one who helped them in building this nation and their businesses. No one can deny this and this is the fact.
The government should reconsider all these things and take immediate action. One more thing the implmentation of the system BAN is one of the main problem for workers working in the low level preventing them from moving forward. If you resign your job you and having another nice opportunity in hands, still you cannot enter the country for the next 6 months or 1 year depending upon the ban.
This is the work system here in UAE and a major hurdle for people willing to move forward.
Iam just typing this with a heavy heart..just pouring out all from my soul. Just requesting whoever reading this to be kind to people around you. God bless you.

07 June, 2007 15:32  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

here is one for nick...thank you for making your 2000 employees rich. from expressindia.com.

Dubai, June 9: For the five million Indians residing in the Gulf countries, many of them in blue-collar jobs, life is not that easy, thanks to higher cost of living.

According to a survey conducted by a Dubai-based non-governmental organisation, 95 per cent of Indians in the Gulf return empty-handed to their home country even after working for a decade.

"Though only 10 per cent of Indian workers in the GCC nations live with families, a majority of them fail to save sufficient money due to low wages and high expenditure on medical treatment," K V Shamsuddin, chairman Pravasi Bandhu Welfare Trust said.

"We had conducted a survey among 10,100 middle and low income expatriate Indians in GCC and found that only five per cent had some financial resources to sustain themselves on return. While 95 per cent felt the need for some regular source of income when they return back to India and look after their families," he said.

09 June, 2007 21:14  
Blogger nick said...

@ Anon 9 June 21:14
If you read this you can email me your gripes and i will reply via email. i am not checking this blog thread any longer. see my profile for email address.

10 June, 2007 09:47  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

nick,

you are a looser and left the argument.i know you cxan't defend your stand you are a racist and a lot of colonial hangover.

all the best which ever hole or banana republic you are hiding and exploiting innocent people over there!!

16 June, 2007 00:36  

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