Aggregator • Mideast Youth • ID=78006
In the Gulf, countries continue to show off their economic power by building more and more. A 1,000-metre Kingdom Tower in Jeddah is being built to take Burj Khalifa’s spot as the world’s tallest tower. Dubai is already home to the world’s largest mall, one of many gigantic malls spread throughout the UAE and its neighboring countries. Kuwait continues its construction boom. Bahrain and Qatar are home to numerous commercial and residential development projects.
Only from afar.
Here are some facts that will make you think twice before celebrating these “achievements” -
[Burj Khalifa's] workers continuously protested against the poor working conditions and low pay, despite the fact that strikes and unionizing are illegal according to UAE law. In 2004, thousands of workers protested before the Ministry of Labour, only to be dispersed by police and threatened with mass deportations. Sporadic protests continued in 2005, with the largest labor protest in the history of the UAE in September 2005, when 7,000 workers staged a three-hour protest. In March 2006, 2,500 workers rioted at the Burj Khalifa site, demanding a raise in their pay. In response to this, protesters were once again threatened with mass deportation. In November 2007, workers at the Burj Khalifa site held a strike again, demanding better living conditions and pay. [Source]
This isn’t any different from what workers typically experience in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain.
Life in the day of a construction worker in Bahrain:
Nearly 400 workers employed in the company in charge of building the Isa Town flyover have gone unpaid for the last three months. [Source]
Not long ago, 300 migrant workers went on strike demanding higher wages, only to be punished by the company that employed them.
Workers find similarly oppressive situations in Qatar as well -
The workers’ strike was over a decrease in the workers' salary from 1000 Qatari riyals ($275) to 650 riyals ($180) per month. The workers were kept in jail without food for days and later deported. To add insult to injury, laborers who worked less than two years for the company had to pay for their ticket back home. [Source]
Despite this being a violation of Qatar's own labor laws, these workers have yet to see justice from the government. The country is often celebrated in the international media for being a model for moderation and progress, though it’s actually one of the most racist places in the region.
Bahrain is also full of corrupt government and corporate officials who consistently violate migrant worker rights. As one example of many, 128 Indian workers who were promised salaries of BD 100 ($270) per month stopped working after they were instead given only BD 45 ($120) and were unable to survive on such a salary. The consequence? A travel ban and outrageous fees, forcing them to borrow money from friends for months in order to survive. Although this sounds like an “extreme” situation, this story is actually the norm, and the exploitative conditions result in suicides throughout the country’s labor camps.
Can we accept that the people who built this:
These stories are endless. Unfortunately, so is the ambition of Gulf states at the expense of these workers, most of whom remain defenseless and defeated. One tower after the other. Competitive malls. Luxury resorts. Fancy museums, all of which cater to the elite of the country and produce an image of unmatched wealth and prosperity. This all continues at an impeccable rate despite ongoing protests.
Our countries are not in a race to be the best at anything in this world, but they are in a race with themselves.
Whoever builds the fastest and largest shrine to their wealth and glory, will also be the one who would have built their own shrine… of slavery.... more