So, what is really behind the glitz and glamour of a shining city like Dubai? Our culture is one of ignorance, an unwillingness to investigate, or even care about the hardships that others have to endure in order to provide us with the opportunities to live comfortable lives, surrounded by pretty things.
There are 3 million migrant workers in Dubai who work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week to create the image of a sparkling city of lights. Most of the workers come from impoverished countries and this is their "last hope" to secure a reasonable life for their families. They are lured by the promise of a monthly salary of 300 GB Pounds (which is a lot of money for them) - all they have to do is pay the agent a "visa fee" of 2000 Pounds which apparently covers the costs of their visas and travel to Dubai. In reality, the fees involved with obtaining a visa and then travelling to Dubai are much lower, as well as it being illegal for the company to charge workers for their visas and travel fees. Workers often have to take loans or sell family land to be able to afford these fees - all for the privilege of working in Dubai.
A contract is signed upon payment of the visa fee, but once the worker arrives in Dubai the contract is ripped up and the worker is payed sometimes only half of the salary agreed upon - if they are payed at all. Their passport is also confiscated. Their accommodation in Dubai is absolutely inhumane: Raw sewage floods the streets and pathways of the accommodation areas designated for the workers
- companies blame the workers for this, stating that their "standards
of cleanliness and hygiene are not up to your or our standards. It is
very difficult to change the habits that they unfortunately bring with
them from their countries of origin.". The government has investigated
and come to the conclusion that this is the fault of the company. The
company was fined 2000 Pounds and nothing further happened - the sewage
and toilets were still in an awful state one month later. There are 2 toilets and one shower for 45 people.
There is a new law stating that if the temperature rises above 50 degrees Celsius (122 degrees Fahrenheit), the workers are allowed to down their tools and rest, until the temperature drops below that mark - unfortunately for the workers, the temperatures never "officially" get that high. The workers are forced to eat only bread, potatoes and rice and receive meat only twice a month - many being forced to beg and borrow just to survive, because they have not received one cent from their employer.
The funny thing is that the people in charge will say that these conditions "look bad to us, but are good for the workers".
An agent who discovered what the living and working conditions of workers were tried
contacting every human rights group, company and government she could
think of, but had only one reply from a oil rig worker turned activist. She says that there is a darkness lurking just behind the glittering lights of Dubai.
Families at home receive no money. Workers do not have enough money to return home, even if passports were to be returned. Workers are bonded to the company for the duration of the "contract".
What alternate choice do these people have save to work in the hopes of receiving some form of remuneration and the fear of being sent home without anything, to return to face the loans and family in shame and humiliation. How could any one possibly claim that squalid conditions are acceptable under any conditions? That is simply the justification of a guilty mind trying to keep from feeling the need to give up a comfortable life.
To what degree will we refuse to look and see the abuse that lies in the shadow of every aesthetically pleasing "achievement" of ours? How far will we allow others to go in the exploitation of beings for profit? When will we start giving to each other that which we would like to receive?
Any life that you are unwilling to live is a life that no other being should be forced to live - there simply is no possible justification that should be acceptable. Abuse is still abuse, no matter how one makes it look. It's time to face the music - otherwise how else will we make it right?