Is the UAE the most depressing place in the world?

I don’t claim to be an expert on political or social issues, so take what I say with a grain of salt, as I may be completely off base. I visited the UAE for the first time last November, and found it fascinating. It was kind of like Las Vegas on steroids, minus the slutty clothing.

There are some places I love because they’re beautiful and the people are amazing, like my four favorite places in the world: Bali, Berchtesgaden, Hong Kong, and Queenstown. Then there are places that I’m simply fascinated by, and I’m not sure what to think of them. The UAE fits in that category.

On the surface it’s an amazing place. It’s like Disney World for adults, with the biggest and most expensive of everything. And what I also find fascinating about the UAE is how international it is. It’s the only place outside of the US or Germany where people don’t automatically assume I’m a visitor, because it’s a country full of temporary residents. While the US might be a “melting pot,” the UAE is a salad bowl, with all kinds of cultures that keep to themselves.


Burj Al Arab

But here’s what’s depressing about the UAE — it’s the first place I’ve honestly felt sorry for the people serving me, be it in a restaurant, hotel, taxi, or elsewhere. I’ve been to a ton of third world countries, but I’ve never felt “sorry” for the average person there. That’s simply because I don’t think there’s a connection between wealth and happiness. You see families in India living in poverty that are happy because they value what’s important in life (health, family, etc.), while you see depressed billionaires in the US. That’s actually probably one of the first lessons I ever learned from traveling — there’s not much of a correlation between wealth and happiness.


Burj Khalifa

But the UAE is an exception, because no matter which person in the service industry you talk to, the story is identical. They’re here on a temporary work permit (usually 2-5 years), and work 12+ hours per day, 6-7 days per week. But what makes the UAE different than most other places in the world where people work “hard” is that they’re separated from their family. They’re literally bused to work, work all day, bused back to their “compound,” sleep, and start the cycle all over again.

And in a way it makes me feel even more fortunate for what I have. Not even that I have a pretty awesome/fun job, but the fact that I have the ability to live where I want.

I’ve been fascinated by every person I’ve come in contact with in this country. Whether I’m getting in a cab, having lunch, or checking into a hotel, I’m always curious to hear peoples’ life stores. I’ll ask them where they’re from, how long they’ve been here, and whether they like it or not. While the answers vary as to where they’re from, there’s one thing that’s consistent — nobody likes working here. A couple of days ago I talked to a waitress who said she had been here for six months and that she still cries every night.

I have pretty mixed feelings about all of this. On one hand I feel guilty enjoying myself on a vacation knowing the hardships these people are subjected to. On the other hand nobody is forcing them to work here — they could have stayed in their country but chose to move here (admittedly this may just all be a cycle, since they were indirectly “forced” to move here due to lack of jobs in their home countries in some cases). But more than anything else it makes me thankful for what I have.

This is the first time I’ve ever felt like I’m being served by indentured servants, for lack of a better way of putting it.

Am I off base? For those that have visited the UAE (or similar Middle Eastern countries), how do you feel? For those that haven’t, would you feel comfortable with this kind of a situation?

Comments

  1. Yep, the GCC is a joke when it comes to worker’s rights. I spent a while in Qatar and its just as bad.

    And think, you didn’t even talk to the construction workers who are the lowest tier there.

  2. Couldn’t agree more. I think almost 80% of their labor force is contracted out. Being a Bali lover myself you probably encountered the high number of Indonesian citizens working there for also for very low wages. Indonesian citizens also account for a high number of the work for one cruise ships. The Indonesians on the cruise ships usually have a ten month contract and on avg. work about 14 hours a day, every, day for ten months without a day off. Rough life, please remember to tip these less fortunate people who for but no fault of their own were born in the wrong location on the globe.

  3. I also lived in Qatar (2 years) and the working situation is appalling. I’m glad you’re bringing this to attention of your readership

  4. So you are absolutely right Lucky – I dislike the UAE. Most of the middle east has similar working conditions for their temporary workers. And hey, its no different in Singapore where workers are again “bussed” from their “housing” (they call it housing and not compound) to the work place and back.

  5. Devil’s advocate: These servants would be treated worse (if they were lucky to find a job), with even lower pay, in their home country. Contract workers are the backbone of these societies and what attracts the cheapest labor in the world? Money. What would happen if these construction workers and waiters just disappeared? It would be chaos. We may be dependent on foreign oil, but they are dependent on foreign cheap labor.

  6. You are exactly right. I’ve heard similar stories many times in Dubai and in Abu Dhabi. The most infuriating part is that the guest workers may invest their sweat and toil in the country for years and yet have almost no rights whatsoever, including no path to citizenship. They’ll always be outsiders and foreigners.

  7. The analogy to Disney World and Vegas is not far fetched either: the ‘cast’ that works the park and the casinos also lives in not so nice compounds. They all do it for the money which is relatively good. This is not slave or bonded labor, but the closest we have 🙁

  8. At the end of the day, Sheikh Mohammed’s “greatness” should be judged by his accomplishments MINUS the human and psychological toll his projects have had on hundreds of thousands of people over the years.

  9. Wow, this is disgusting. I had no idea because I’ve never seriously considered the Middle East as a travel destination. Certainly won’t now.

    Thanks, Ben and your readers, for sharing this info. I’m off to find/sign a petition or two.

  10. People who work in deserts (be it the Arabian Peninsula or elsewhere) are there for the money, humanitarian reasons (not UAE) or because there is no other option. 80% of the population in GCC is contract workers there to make some money. You see in the eyes of expats in bars – bored, bored bored, looking for a moments distraction. The cab driver who delivered me to the airport – Bangladeshi – had not seen his wife in 4 years. Sigh. I was offered a five year post while out there that would have given me enough money to retire on (and I am not an old guy) but not for me. 5 years is a very long time, but life is very short.

  11. While conditions in the UAE and other Gulf states are not perfect for workers, I don’t find them any different than the conditions faced by immigrant workers anywhere in the world. Do you really think that Lithuanians in the UK or seasonal Mexican farm workers in Canada or Zimbabwean miners in South Africa lead a significantly different existence? It just seems more pronounced in the UAE and other Gulf States because, as you note, immigrant workers make up around 90% of the population.

    I made this comment last time you visited the UAE and I’ll make it again. Shuttling between luxury hotels and shopping malls does not give you a reality based perspective on the UAE. The UAE has a quite vibrant multi-cultural society below the surface. Go for a walk by Deira creek on a Thursday night or visit Karama on a weekday evening and you will experience some of this.

  12. Ben, I visited Dubai a few years ago and felt the same way. Except that I was not enchanted by the place like some are in Vegas….it was just a big shiny over-the-top place with really good aircon and absolutely no culture. That being said, I would definitely go back if I had the chance….

  13. The UAE has a terrible human rights record. The brother of Abu Dhabi’s ruler was caught on video savagely torturing a man for cheating him out of a few sacks of rice. He was declared innocent in court, despite two hours of video footage showing otherwise. That says alot about these people’s disregard for human life.

    The workers who built Burj Khalifa (among other projects) were paid as little as $7 per day. Most of this is the doing of the recruitment agencies and construction companies, but the government has clearly failed to do anything about the abuse.

    On the other hand, the hotel workers I’ve spoken to had nothing but positive things to say. The lounge workers at the Hyatt Regency raved about getting a tax-free salary, free room, board, transportation, a ticket home every 6 months and other perks. One employee told me she doesn’t know what to spend her salary on because everything is taken care of. I guess whether workers are treated well or not depends on who they work for (and probably where they come from).

  14. It’s sad to hear that, but seriously there are also other countries who are treating their foreigners like dirt.

  15. I lived in Dubai for two years and dealt with a lot of the workers (helps that my wife is Filipino). As appalled as you may be about the tough conditions and low wages, none of the workers would choose anything different. While you might cringe that they only make a dollar an hour, that is eight times what they would earn for the same backbreaking work in thier home countries. Working for a few years in a place like the UAE allows them to marry well, educate thier children and have an actual retirement instead of working until they die.

  16. Plenty of service workers in the US have come here from foreign countries and left their families back at home. They send money home…and often eventually bring their family here or return home with savings.

    Same situation with help in your beloved Hong Kong. Many families there have Filipino nannies that come on multi-year contract, leaving their own kids behind in the care of family while they try to make something new.

    I’m starting a new company here in the US…and really don’t see my family at all during the week.

  17. @Sean M., yes, I would say that immigrant workers in the UK have it significantly better. Employment law in the UK is pretty strict, and applies equally to everyone. The minimum wage is designed to offer (just) enough money to live on in, in the UK. The same isn’t true of the UAE.

  18. You’re absolutely right. This country is all about the Badge. They claim to want Emiratizatiion, but show no signs of a work ethic, economic drive or little concerns for success. As long as people come to work, and the oil lasts to pay them they’ll be okay. When its gone they’ll have REAL issues.

    Many of the laborers can go months without pay to keep them from “running”.

  19. I expected this kind of bashing as we always read it in european newspapers!!!!first let me say those workers were not forced to come and work in UAE they know the conditions as they get news from their familly or friends who work their!!!is their conditions better in bagladesh,india or phillipins???oh what about the billions of dollars transferred to their countries every year???i live in the UK and i am experiencing every day those eastern european who migrated here fir a better life and now they dont even have the money to pay a tiket back home!!!what about northern african immigrants in france,belgium or holland???yeah they work in the cities and they return to their negkected suburbs every evening thats if they get any work at alll as they will be deselected from their names at first stage.well fir those spending theur holiiday in bali,phuket,sri lanka or wherever,just ask the waiter or room maud how much they are paid???have time and go see where they live!!!!and compare their conditions to thise migrants in arab states!!!!let me just tell you as a lebanese,those countries are very protective regarding their citizenship,regardless who you are or where you come from you will never ever get the uae or qatari or kuwaiti nationslity if your dad wasnt!!!even a wonan cannot give citizenship to her husband and kids!!!!

  20. @maccoinnich – With all due respect sir, relative to the cost of living in each place, unskilled migrant workers in the Gulf states are significantly better compensated than those in the UK or indeed most of the so-called “Western world”. As for your comment about “employment law” and “minimum wage”, that smacks of naivete about how the market for migrant workers actually operates (yes, even in the UK).

  21. @Sean M,
    Yes it’s different. Lithuania is a member of the EU. Thus eventually the citizen’s will adhere to labour laws.

  22. The tax free lure of the Gulf States is attractive indeed to those who are after a quick buck and are willing to work like slaves for a few years. It’s sad that their lives at home are so bad that they feel compelled to do this, but money talks.

    As to depressing, I don’t think it can beat Las Vegas on that score. At least what Dubai and elsewhere offers has a veneer of solidity and sophistication. Las Vegas is simply tacky and depressing through and through. And people have moved to the desert to work there…

  23. @Ben, ever talk to a cruise ship room worker vs say an officer? How about living 4-6 in the bottom of a boat working unreal hours! NCL officers work 2-3 months then 2-3 off. Not so much for rest of crew.

  24. Without the employment opportunities provided by the GCC countries like the UAE, a lot of people from or in South Asia’s poorest parts would be a lot, lot worse off. The money they earn is far better than they would make at home. And the working conditions they get in the UAE at least are actually generally better than the working conditions they would face for a fraction of the pay back in their own communities in South Asia. The GCC countries are far from perfect and have ugly human rights records but have led to the socio-economic upliftment of millions in South Asia. There are poor farming families whose children are now doctors and engineers and lawyers only because a father or uncle or sibling or cousin was able to get a job in the UAE or other GCC country, save a lot of money (relative to what they would save working in their home country), and build homes and pay for education for their families that they would otherwise not be able to do. Most wouldn’t trade it for a life at home until after they meet their financial needs because there isn’t as much indignity in their working lives in the UAE and GCC as they may have otherwise faced at home.

  25. I would imagine that are people in the U.S. that would welcome a job like that, or any kind of work so that they can feed themselves and family!

  26. @Sean M.

    Yes, this exists everywhere, but people in Europe and the US have better legal resources in cases where they are being abused. Not so in the UAE or the rest of GGC. Local human rights grass root organizations are beginning to pop up, but they are few and far between.

    The UAE doesn’t have have a quite vibrant multi-cultural society on any level, much of it is shallow and sterile.

    People from white countries and developed East Asian countries (Japan, S. Korea) tend to get treated better than other Arabs, Africans, and Asians. A German engineer, for example, will get paid more for the same job a Lebanese or Indian will do, even if they have the same experience.

    Yes, it’s true, millions of people were lifted out of poverty thanks to the jobs and wages in the GCC. But for every success story, there are 3 or 4 people for him they weren’t as fortunate, and ended up returning home or in debt.

  27. I thought Qatar was pretty depressing too but I was only there for a very brief time. But I think there is a nugget of truth to the notion that when a huge majority of the population makes very little compared to their overlords it makes for some depressing dynamics. And I also don’t doubt that conditions are even worse in the home countries of those “guest workers”.

    For those saying labor laws protect people in the West, I’d say you are very naive. The illegal migrants who make up the workforce in many places (farm workers, meat packers, etc) live in absolutely awful conditions and make very little. And we have governments everywhere in the US doing all they can to strip away workers’ rights so their employers are free to abuse their workforce. It’s just going to keep getting worse.

    Also, tell the abused ethnic tribes in Burma that their life isn’t the most depressing. Or the stateless Rohingya people who are basically victims of genocide. Or the people stuck in refugee camps in Africa or Bhutan or Nepal.

    There is plenty of depression to go around.

  28. We should ask ourselves how these nations can go from empty deserts with a small local population, to shiny metropolises (of mostly empty skyscrapers) in a matter of two decades WITHOUT slave labour?

    Sure, the manual laborers are paid more than their own countries, but then they also lack any real rights and are frequently abused or worse. Sadly, the legal systems of these countries aren’t developed enough to protect the rights of temporary workers.

    This shouldn’t come as a surprise because the UAE didn’t exist 45 years ago, and is an artificial entity like the rest of the nations in the south banks of the Persian Gulf. Their princely rulers are unable or unwilling to bring about the real political change that should go along with their newly created nations.

  29. In Hong Kong, the government makes sure that all the nannies are paid a fair wage. The nannies are allowed one day off each week and are provided a ticket home each year. That being said, being separated from your family is very difficult. I have only been on one cruise, but i had the sense that the life of the workers was not that great.
    I hope that it reminds me to tip more while I am enjoying the life provided to me as an American.

  30. Have you ever been on a cruise ship? How is this different? It is a decision these folks made to work in the UAE or on a ship. Although I really don’t feel bad for the workers on a cruise, I do tip heavily and make sure they know how much I appreciate their hard work.

  31. @wwk5d

    It is more like for every four or five or ten foreign South Asian workers who had success because of the UAE, one returned home dejected and in ruin. And the higher up the labor skillset, the more likely it worked out better than the most likely alternatives in their own home country. The construction workers are amongst the worst off of the lot, but that is true even in their own home countries. And in terms of being indebted, they or their families are often indebted in their own home countries and would usually be at least as indebted of way more indebted if they had never left.

    I am aware of the presence of indentured servitude like systems that are in operation in South Asia and are part of crooked labor supply operations for GCC employers. It is awful but it is not a majority situation and the victims of such rackets are victims of such rackets even if they never left their home country.

    About basic rights, the situation is not pretty but it is pretty predictable: don’t make a public stink and don’t get in debt in the UAE, and most all end up doing just fine; racist hierarchy exists in the country with pay scales and more. But the fact is that this kind of stuff also exists in a variety of OECD countries too and laws existing aren’t always enforced or even helpful to immigrant workers.. Some of these OECD countries — much like the GCC countries — even prohibited illegal immigrant children from going to school or punished them for trying to go to school. No country is a saint when you examine it closely.

  32. As people have already mentioned that Vice documentary on the situation is quite eye-opening. outside forces may have brought them to the UAE but inside forces are keeping them there.

  33. “It is more like for every four or five or ten foreign South Asian workers who had success because of the UAE, one returned home dejected and in ruin.”

    That may be true for white collar workers, but I doubt it’s true for most laborers.

  34. What’s with all of the excuse-making? “Well, they still have it better off than they would in Bangladesh, etc.” “Well, things aren’t perfect in other countries.” As if somehow all of these things makes it okay to treat workers like slaves?

  35. I’ve cruised multiple times and visited the UAE twice. Yes, there are similarities between the long work hours/days/weeks, the isolation from home, and the cramped living conditions. but I think there is a big difference between the two situations, which makes the UAE far more depressing for the workers.

    On the cruise ship, the workers have constant contact with visitors, and they–the visitors and employees–share the same facilities. In such close proximity it is hard for blatant mistreatment to go unnoticed. Likewise, the cruise ship culture is Westernized, and we (guests) bring our standards and values to the ship, and these standards are quite different than those in the Arab world. We expect the cruise ship workers to be treated humanely, and working conditions to be liveable (though we may not enjoy them ourselves). The cruise ship employees share the same food as the guests (albeit in a simple dining room); they utilize the same onboard medical and internet services; and they visit the same ports–at times, in the same tender boats as the guests–where they have access to a variety of sights and stimuli to break up the monotony of their tedious days. Furthermore, cruise ships pay for travel “home” for their workers–something I can’t imagine happening with the lower echelon workers in the UAE.

    The UAE feels artificial and contrived–which it is!–and the sterility is what gives it a depressing atmosphere.

  36. @wwk5d,

    It is true for most poor laborers. I know more poor laborers who have worked in the UAE than even white collar workers; and I have seen what UAE employment has meant to the villages of South Asia and heard from the villagers of South Asia, good and bad things, about what it has meant for them.

    A lot of people consider it fashionable to bash the UAE for what it has become and how it has become what it has become but don’t know how to properly appreciate the good that has come for it for many poor and working middle class persons and their families in South Asia.

  37. It is ironic that the biggest criticism of labour practices in the Gulf states comes from those in developed countries, rather than those from the actual countries that are allegedly being exploited! 🙂

  38. It reminds me of my short visit to Bahrain. In the airport, most people on the departures level are Indian, Pakistani, etc. waiting for their flight home to visit family. Upstairs are the different airport clubs, filled with those from the West, Middle East, and Asia. One of the starkest class separations I’ve seen.

  39. I felt the same way when I stayed in Cairo. Usually, I feel like I am helping someone when I spend big bucks for a nice hotel. But in Cairo, I felt they were oppressed (and I have never had that feeling before).

    Regarding the cruise ship, we took a Mediterranean Cruise in June and our porter was from Singapore. We got to know him well and made sure we paid him well. And while it’s hard for anyone to be away from their family, I did not have that sinking feeling about our steward that I had about the workers in Cairo.

  40. Yuck, yuck. All this opportunistic, populist hand-wringing. Gee, aren’t you all grand for looking down your noses at these places; how “awful” they are, etc., etc. LOL! This is why the UN was invented, right? To “fix” things like this. Rubes.

  41. @GuWonder

    Er, it’s not fashionable. It’s people suffering. Yes, some people benefit, but many do not.

    @Sean M.

    That’s simply not true. Many Asian countries have lowered the number of visas allowed to their citizens, and in some cases, banned certain jobs for their citizens. The Philippines, Bangladesh, India, and Indonesia, among others, have voiced their concerns about how their citizens are being treated not just in the GCC but also many other Arab countries as well.

  42. @Sean M, that’s mainly because you are only hearing the voice of the developed world. It’s consistent with the absence of a powerful media in many poorer countries. Bangladesh Television (BTV) doesn’t have much of a voice compared to CNN/FOX/BBC/Al-Jazeera. How often do you read about Bangladesh outside its boarder?

  43. you are right on the money, most of the people that works there dont have to be there but bc of their own country “mis” add any words behind it and thats the case of most third world countries. Its not UAE fault, its a gem in the middle of the dessert and everyone want to come and get a piece of it.

  44. @wwk5d and @ZZ – I live in India. I have access to more media channels (TV, Radio, print) than I know what to do with. I assure you there is nothing remotely resembling the widespread criticism of migrant labour flow to the Gulf countries that you allude to.

    I wonder how much of the recent sentiment for worker rights in the Middle East is driven by the sub-conscious anti-Arab propaganda that the West is constantly bombarded with?

  45. Dubai SUCKS! Anyone who has seen those old school buses packed with a hundred indians literally with their heads hanging out the windows cruising on the highways soon realizes that place is a joke. But the hellish immigrant working conditions is just one of the resaons why Dubai sucks. There is no soul in this city, there is nothing to do! If you are a 15 year old girl you could prolly live at the mall. But if you are an adult that enjoys being outside in less than scorching heat, who enjoys having a beer at a place other than the 3 designated (hyperbole) drinking areas by the govt, you will be bored out of your mind!!!

  46. Well, Sean M, sorry to trump you, but I am Arab. And I have actually lived in the GCC area for over 25 years, and still do. So yeah, I do think I know what I’m talking about (probably more than you ever will).

  47. @Sean M. I don’t think I’m being naive at all. Of course, mistreatment of immigrant workers happens in UK; sometimes with horrific consequences, such as with the cockle pickers at Morecambe Bay. There is nothing like the widespread use of very very cheaply paid migrant labour from Asia. If you are greeted by a young Eastern European women at a hotel reception, she’s very to be working legally, under the same conditions that British citizen would be. To claim any kind of equivalency between the UK and the UAE is absurd.

  48. Yes, it’s appalling, go Americans, go rescue them. Oh wait, you can’t bomb UAE, because they supply oil to you!

  49. A very different view point. Whether unavoidable or not, like someone else pointed out above, as long as we can do out bit towards helping someone less fortunate thats what matters.

  50. mohamed b(post #24)- My nine year old niece in grade school has better grammar and spelling than you do! If you actually live in the UK, I suggest you take some English courses.

  51. Honestly…life is NOT fair.

    Otherwise, take your first step and STOP buying MADE IN CHINA goods, which are made by people who live in sub-standard conditions, and who make sub-standard wages.

    It’s not only UAE…

  52. I visited Dubai three years ago and you have expressed the exact sentiments that I felt. In speaking with the hotel staff, I sensed a lot of homesickness and despair.

    Dubai = Artificiality to the max.

  53. Lucky, I’ve been following your blog for a while. This is the first comment I’m making. My favourite part are your trip reports. I find them very to be well written and very entertaining. I’m a college student right now so I’m a bit “budget constrained” :P, but I hope that one day I can indulge myself. Having said that, sometimes you come across as a bit of a prude in my opinion. I am sure it’s not intentional but obviously when you say something like “I wish I could be addressed by name”, it can come across as a bit harsh.

    I was born and raised in the UAE. I am Indian but I hold a Canadian citizenship and my family was fairly well settled so as you could imagine, we lived comfortably. 4 years ago, I moved to Canada to study and I have been living here since. I don’t want to go back.

    As you have seen, the UAE is an extremely comfortable place for those who can afford it. Throughout my childhood, I never really looked at the Filipino behind the counter at McDonalds or the Indian toiling at the construction as people. Rather, I just perceived them as objects to serve my needs.

    As I’ve grown older, I’ve begun to understand the price of the UAE’s blazing success. Some of these commenters have mentioned that these laborers would be paid a lot less in their home countries. That’s probably true.

    These workers are also separated from the only life they have know back home in Sri Lanka, the Philippines, Indonesia, Bangladesh, India. They get to go home once every two years. The live in “labour camps” sharing their rooms and a toilet with 8 or 12 other men. The going rate for an unskilled laborer (after visa and agent costs are taken into account) is approximately 700-800 dhirhams or between 200-250 USD per month. For this “wage” as you pointed out, they work 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.

    It hurts me to say this because I was born and raised in the UAE. I love the UAE lifestyle. Here in Canada, I’m actually expected to do my laundry myself.

    Some commenters above have mentioned that indentured servants exist in Singapore amongst other places. That is probably true. This does not for one moment justify denying a man his dignity. Singapore is a democracy. It is lauded all over the world for having one of the most transparent governments. Human rights for “guest workers” may be a weakness for the country but the fact that Singapore is a democracy and not a dictatorship means that its citizens can voice their concerns. As the country develops and matures, I am confident that the country will be more effective at enforcing the human rights of its labourers.

    With regards to you Lucky, I am very excited, thrilled and impressed at how perceptive your comments in this post have been. As you have often mentioned in your blog, travelling broadens the mind. The fact that you have taken the time to speak to cab drivers, waiters, servers shows me that you can look beyond the superficial reality of wherever you travel and that now you are truly able to appreciate and understand the places you have traveled to. You have also pointed in some of your trip reports that you truly enjoy a flight when the flight attendants look like they love their job, and take pride in their word. That happiness passes on to the passenger as well.

  54. “Singapore is a democracy”? More like a single party state with some of the trappings of democracy without being a true liberal representative democracy.

    @SeanM, perhaps not anti-Arab as much as anti-Muslim as of late. Arab anti-Muslim neocons do exist and are amongst those on the “pro-worker” anti-UAE bandwagon. Much less frequently seeing them as concerned about what goes on in non-Muslim majority countries with worker/union rights.

  55. Mzkd- You wrote “Singapore is a democracy. It is lauded all over the world for having one of the most transparent governments.” Singapore is a democracy in name only. The Singapore gov’t routinely jails members of the opposition party. You cannot say negative things about the Singapore gov’t without fear of going to jail. The President of Singapore, which is a figurehead position with no real responsibilities, makes over $3 million a year!

  56. I know someone who works as a professor in a university in one of the gulf states. He’s African (from Ghana) and he took the job because the pay is excellent, he gets free education for his kids, and a free ticket to Ghana once a year. And his whole family is with him; he’s not a migrant worker.

    But the price he pays is that he’s constantly insulted, in big and small ways, by the native Arabs, who look past him without acknowledging him, expect him to give way to them when he’s in front of them in line, etc.

    Then there is the abominable record of women’s rights in most of these countries (especially Saudi Arabia). My wife has told me repeatedly and in no uncertain terms that there is no way in hell she will ever step foot in one of them, much less move with me to one, even if I were able to earn 10 times my current salary there. And I can’t say I disagree with her.

  57. Ok, I was wrong, Singapore may be more dictatorial that I imagined. Mea Culpa. It does, however have a very very transparent government sector.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corruption_Perceptions_Index#Rankings

    I can immigrate to Singapore, get a PR and eventually become a Singaporean citizen. There is NO route for citizenship in the UAE. You can be born and raised in the Emirates and you will always be an expatriate. If your sponsor loses his job, then his visa is cancelled and he and his family has to leave the country. You will always be relegated to a second-class status. You will never be able to participate in civil society.

    If I am a Singaporean citizen – atleast in theory (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Article_14_of_the_Constitution_of_Singapore#Restrictions_on_freedom_of_speech_and_assembly) – I am entitled to rights as a Singaporean citizen. I am entitled to subsidized housing and I can send my kids to a public school. You also have a voice and you can exercise it. Singapore is a relatively new country and it is still maturing. Atleast its constitution allows for a potential route for increased freedom of expression. No such avenue exists in the UAE.

    The treatment of “guest workers” in Singapore still has room to improve under the way the government and country is set up. In the UAE, there is no incentive to give guest workers a fair share of the country’s success.

  58. I thank my stars that I emigrated to the US! After reading all the comments, it does all seem like a necessary evil.

    I have heard about some of the workers being indentured – in a way. because their passports are taken from them and they are prevented from visiting / returning to their home countries…

  59. “Arab anti-Muslim neocons do exist and are amongst those on the “pro-worker” anti-UAE bandwagon.”

    What a silly thing to label Arabs who feel migrant workers deserve better rights and living conditions. And frankly, rather stupid and ignorant.

  60. @wwk5d, you clearly don’t understand or appreciate the meaning of the word “amongst”, which may explain your misdirected, misleading comment.

    @snic, for many minority males in Europe — including in some so-called liberal Nordic countries — your description of the bigotry migrant workforce participants face in the UAE sounds much like the description of bigotry that migrant workers face in Europe and East Asia too — even faced by professional migrant workers with advanced academic degrees. Getting viewed as second-class, treated as such to the point of being insulted or ignored; their domestically-born children having no right to citizenship in the country of birth and sometimes not even allowed an education without threat of removal from the school or country even if allowed to enroll in primary schools — all of this takes place in Europe too with laws either half-heartedly enforced, if enforced, or set up so as to be a joke when it comes to protecting minorities from discrimination.

    The UAE nationals include a rather bigoted lot which holds many negative stereotypes of various peoples, but their deepest reservoir of bigotry is directed at Persians and Shias; yet they love the business and educated labor they too provide.

    It is not like bigotry and negative stereotypes of ethnic and religious minorities isn’t present in the US, Canada and much of Europe too. The hatred espoused toward Muslims in many OECD countries and elsewhere has become neo-PC and is tolerated and accepted in a way it would not be if in the place of “muslims and brown people” other ethnic and/or religious minorities were targeted.

  61. Because you are ridiculously equating two things which are not related to each other. At best, the example you listed are “amongst” the tiniest of fractions. There are probably more Arabs who are not neocons who support workers rights in the GCC, and there are quite a few Arab neocons who couldn’t give a toss one way or the other about worker’s rights in the GCC.

  62. @wwk5d,

    Only you are “ridiculously equating two things” as you did above. You quite clearly don’t appreciate the meaning of “amongst” in my made, let alone having a grasp on understanding the meaning of “amongst”.

    For all the exclaimed concern about workers’ rights in the UAE, most of the migrant workforce in the UAE quite ordinarily try to get UAE jobs for their South and/or Southeast Asian relatives after they start working/living in the UAE.

    Sarcasm commence: The UAE must be such an awful place for migrant workers working and living there that most do what they can to find and recommend UAE jobs to their relatives; that or they must really hate their own family members to want them to join them in such an awful place. :Sarcasm complete.

    I don’t even like the UAE and am a critic of the various ways in which they act in affairs, domestic and foreign; but the notion that the UAE is hell on earth for workers misses the reality that it is a huge improvement for most of the migrant workers and mostly works for most of them, even and especially the poorest amongst them. The circumstances aren’t ideal, but they are a general improvement for most.

    As a tourist destination, DXB doesn’t do it for me. As a lifestyle destination for putting up residence, the UAE is not for me either. But guess what: many South Asians have picked up residential property in the UAE for themselves as a place that they would prefer living in at least part time even when they are part of the socio-economic creme de la creme in their own countries in South Asia and have no employment in the UAE. And their poorest compatriots too would in the main like to have the same options of putting up roots of some sort in the UAE. There are even illegal immigrants in the UAE who come there seeking work — that is an indication that something is working better for them in the UAE than in their home country. Do you really want to see them with fewer employment opportunities abroad? Without DXB and the UAE having gotten to the current state, the result would be just that of reduced opportunity for those from poor countries and keeping more people limited to their own home country.

    About all the concern about the migrant workforce’s social isolation, it is an issue but it is a factor even in domestic migration by labor market participants just about everywhere in the world that has foreign workers. The irony of that concern with regard to the UAE workforce is that most of the poorer workers in the UAE from South and SE Asia have other relatives and acquaintances from the same home town/city/state living/working in the UAE too — often for the same employer. Must be awful, right? 😉

  63. No, I get the meaning of the word. That still doesn’t change that it was the dumbest, most useless example ever.

    Even if it is an improvement for migrant workers with regards to the situation in their home countries, it doesn’t change the fact that it still a horrible environment for many of them where they are abused and exploited.

  64. @GuWonder: You might be right that bigotry against Africans, Asians and other immigrants/migrants is similar in Europe and the Gulf. I didn’t say that’s not the case (although I have to say that my Ghanaian friend didn’t feel anywhere near as much bigotry here in the USA as in the Gulf). What is completely different, however, is the status of women. In Europe, they have rights – lots of them. In most of the Arab world, they have very few.

  65. @wwk5d, “dumb and useless” doesn’t apply to an accurate characterization. If you’re not an Arab neo-con, just say so. People can believe it or not.

    Bigots have a tendency to find pet topics to try to engage in delegitimization and even criminalization of whole peoples or states against which they are biased for reasons of political ideology, even if the bigots don’t recognize and/or acknowledge that is what is they are doing..

    @snic, of course your Ghanaian friend probably wouldn’t — he’s not in the “Muslims and brown people” category that has seen rising levels of bigotry in the US and declining levels of the same in the UAE? The US has had a meaningful civil rights movement and a usefully litigious society that works to set things right in a way that has not happened in Europe. For women, the situation in the UAE is certainly not great but it is better than in the home countries from which the UAE gets most of its unskilled/low-skilled workforce. Women have rights in the UAE too. And for all the concern about women’s rights in the workforce, Europe is no utopia. Even in “liberal” Scandinavia, sexual harassment at the workplace is not treated as seriously as in the US or even, in some cases, as seriously as in the UAE. The problem with rights’ acknowledgement and protection of rights in the UAE is that, when wronged, justice is adjusted based on who you are and who you know; another problem with it is that publicly embarrassing situations for the country come with an official backlash for going public about incidents.. Then again justice systems in most countries are de facto slanted in favor of the rich/powerful/well-connected while being slanted against the poor and against some ethnic/religious minorities. For most of the people, male or female, who migrate to the UAE for work, the conditions are no worse in the UAE than they would be in their own home country; rather, most often the conditions in the UAE are a huge improvement for them. There are lot of women’s rights failings in the UAE, and homophobia makes the UAE problematic for many tourists; however, a lot of countries have awful records in those or other areas too and yet rarely does it become a pet topic in the way it does when talking about some Muslim-majority state.

    If anything, all the negative attention the UAE has gotten is a sign of the place having succeeded in a big enough way to have gotten much of the attention it craves that few would have expected in the 1970s or 1980s when the UAE was a much younger country.

  66. You’re assuming the example you gave was accurate. It was far from it. So, “dumb and useless” still applies.

    Again, just because the conditions for them back home are the same or worse doesn’t justify how the GCC treats citizens. Women have rights in the GCC, to a degree, but whatever shortcomings Europe may have, it’s still light years ahead of what the GCC (and many other Arab countries) offer.

    As for whether someone is a bigot or not, I think you’re hardly qualified to pass judgement on who is or isn’t a bigot.

  67. @wwk5d,

    You have failed to show how my comment was inaccurate, because demonstrating such is factually not within your grasp.

    The UAE’s treatment of its own citizens is pretty good. It’s the treatment of foreigners which is somewhat troublesome.

    About whether or not someone is a bigot or not, your thoughts about me don’t matter. I certainly don’t harbor any anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudices. The same cannot be said of all here.

  68. I think your failure might be indicative of your own shortcomings, which are plentiful, not mine.

    Define pretty good. Most women cannot travel without permission from a male guardian. Voting for political leaders is limited or non-existent. Citizens can have their businesses or land grabbed by the government with little or no choice in the matter. Any criticism of the government will have you thrown in jail on trumped up charges. Yes, there is a welfare system that takes care of the citizens, but it is still a gilded cage. So, yes, you can say the treatment is pretty good, as long as they don’t rock the boat or have any say in their government or settle for what they have.

    For someone who doesn’t care, your posts sure seem to indicate otherwise. As for people here harboring anti-Arab or anti-Muslim prejudices…save the analysis for someone who knows what they’re talking about, Dr. Phil.

  69. In the UAE, its female citizens drive by themselves in cars which they own on their own, go to work, have their own bank and other financial accounts, travel the world by themselves and marry whom they want just as do its male citizens. The UAE, and Dubai in particular, are nothing like most of the GCC and certainly not like Saudi Arabia. In Dubai, open prostitution at hotel bars is rarely punished, unlike in most GCC and OECD countries.

    Citizens in most every country — democracy or not — can have their assets taken by the government with little or no choice in the matter. [Asset forfeiture is part of state business in just about every jurisdiction of significance.] In the matter of individual’s material assets and liabilities, the way in which the UAE is far worse than most countries is the following: defaulting on civil debts is a criminal violation. [Disputing a credit card charge or failing to make payments on a car or residence could come back to haunt you with time behind bars regardless of to whom the debt is owed in the UAE.]

    The place certainly isn’t a liberal representative democracy, but it is no worse than China or various other places on various matters which “the concerned” visit without as much if any comment about “rights” issues when the topic is tourism in those other places. Anti-Arab or anti-Muslim bias being part of the global picture, tourism-related or otherwise, is rationally undeniable for those able and willing to acknowledge reality and the neo-PCness that accepts or furthers prejudice of the anti-Arab or anti-Muslim sort. [And some of the anti-Muslim prejudice is peddled by Arabs who are not Muslim — those includes neocon Arabs “concerned” about rights of persons in Dubai.]

    As I said earlier, Dubai and the UAE doesn’t do it for me, in terms of a tourist or lifestyle residence destination. That says nothing about not caring.

  70. A nice summary, Ben, and again I’ll wait for the expanded report when you get around to it. I’ve been there only once and have no plans to return. Plastic, artificial, fake and created by throwing excess money at it, were my only thoughts. Beyond the small circle of Las Vegas-like glitz and bling, there is nothing but sand. Walk a mile or two beyond the bright lights (if allowed to do so) and the terrain becomes endless sand. They fill those beautiful fountains with water manufactured from excess energy, sucked from the sand. They import professional and service workers, buying them with money from the excess energy under their sand dunes, yet pay them the least possible to achieve a 2-3-4 year contract. There are no careers built here, only a few opportunists who come to fill their pockets for a few years. If the country has a cultural heritage, they go to extremes to bury it, displaying their expensive imitation of what they *Think* Western Europe might want. It does not work for me and I don’t want to return. Sure! If I can get a ticket to elsewhere booked on EK, with perhaps a brief connection in their Plastic Home, I’ll take it, as EK’s service is world-class. For a destination visit, hell no!

  71. I have to throw my thoughts into this as well. Having visited the U.A.E. twice, I can relate to almost everyone here. To imagine the labour it took to build all those tall buildings and that almost all the people working in the “service” related jobs are from the outside such as Asia. I was never impressed at all. It’s just too superficial, and it makes you wonder what’s really going on inside. They can build build build all they want, but there’s still that separation that was mentioned in an earlier post. Besides, it’s still an area of Arabic and Islamic values, and you can’t wear what you want on the streets, play loud music, dance where you want, and you’ve gotta be conservative at the beach. Laws are strict in regards to alcohol and conduct. I personally think it’s a shame the U.A.E. doesn’t do their own labour. Where’s the pride? There is none. Spend all you want U.A.E. in order to lure people with money in. I’m not sold on all the hype.

  72. I lived in a hotel for one year in the UAE. Made friends with some of the staff. These well known hotel chains pay their staff approx US$400 per month and keep their passports. And then they charge us the same prices as hotels in the US. Who are the real winners?

  73. I lived in Dubai for about 18 months, my husband for about 2 years, while we waited for his Aussie visa to clear (I’m Australian, he is Indian). We agree now that we wouldn’t send a dog to live in the UAE. The large majority of Emiratis are revolting people, egomaniacs, horribly racist, completely self absorbed. They look down their noses at all others, and they only barely tolerate us Westeners because of the money that comes to the country from our countries with business, tourism etc. I’m a nurse (RN) and I worked at a very ‘prestigious’ private hospital when I was there. Some of the stories I could tell you would make your hair curl in regards to people’s behavior, how emiratis treat others etc. Its all smoke and mirrors, there’s nothing genuine about the place, including the people.

  74. I am really surprised with some comments here, first I don’t care if they earn more money here than their own country, only people from 3rd world countries think that way, I don’t care what they earn in India, they in Dubai, simple end of conversation, honestly I don’t feel sorry for the Indian people, they the ones saying to the bosses to pay them less, they treat themselves like shit, once they become managers or bosses the Indians are the worst to treat their own kind, they stupid enough not to learn from experience.3rd point is this making investors more rich and workers more poor, what looks like living in brazil or Colombia, where you see the rich enjoying and wasting money with Russians hookers thinking like Dubai is the best nation in the world at the same time paying the same amount they waste in one single day in a month of salaries. final story is this, the only people that think Dubai is great, are people from shitty countries or people that they do nothing here apart from selling their bodies for sex. more Europeans vanish from Dubai, and they left with badly dresses people from 3rd worlds countries in a new looking city, that does not make send, its like building a new York city in 3 days in the villages of Afghanistan and what you get is Dubai, no professionals and nothing is great apart from construction, in 10 years you will see no Europeans , salaries are going down, only Indians salaries they want, personaly, Indians professinals managers are so bad that they making Dubai look bad, I meet many ceo from companies and hotels from india, they talk like they swallow a fish trying to be posh and professional, and once I worked with them I realize how unprofessional they are, nothing they make are right,thats the reason I move back to Europe, only in places like vip clubs or restaurants you will see Europeans, mostly cabin crew that thinks Dubai is great because they party nearly every day and the man here they go for anything with the skirt when woman are only 20%, the funny part is that from that 20@ woman 10% are hookers, so its funny to see woman coming to Dubai and following the Dubai woman fashion to dress like hookers. terrible Dubai, and if they pay more salaries nobody would want Indians,, they get bad work from the indian and they don’t care because they know that they pay shit,enough say

  75. Thank god I got the hell out of Dubai. I had lived there for so many years and hated it because of the treatment the locals emiraties have towards everyone else. The arabs think they are the chosen people. bloody sand niggers.

  76. @Rajesh Excatly and as the mankind construct and build his country and his self but still the knowledge is missing because life is learning from our mistakes and to take responsibilities of ourselfs here we don’t know what we are doing or goung to be like through the way it look to us

  77. Completely agree with you.

    I spend a year in Abu Dhabi and those were the worst days of my life.

    Last year I declined an offer of 30K AED PM just because I dont wanna compromise on life for money.

    Nice article dude! will help people getting into this artificial trap called UAE.

  78. I’m from the United States and have spent three weeks here in Abu Dhabi at the Hilton Hotel for a short oil field business trip. The city is very nice and up to American/Canadian/European standards for the most part. The UAE is a strong supporter of the United States and has bought a lot of military and industrial equipment … helping our exports.

    That being said, about the “low skilled labor and temporary labor” struggle, it is all true. I’ve spoken with many taxi drivers, hotel attendants, and workers at the Marina Mall. They do work here for 1 to 2 years at a time before they can fly home to visit family. They are paid next to nothing, which is why so many grand buildings actually be financed.

    Please, be sure to tip them, and tip them well, if you visit here!!

    Even the skilled labor (engineers and technicians) who are from Jordan, India, Egypt, Yemen … all complain about ridiculously high housing prices, over priced family cars, and low wages.

    Amazes me that the same oil field job “ticket” here in the UAE runs in the same price range as the US. Yet the oil field workers and engineers are paid about 1/3 of what a similarly experienced American/Canadian/British field engineer would make.

    Apparently things are even worse in their home countries. I wish I would bring them all back the US because I could put them all to work immediately with higher wages, lower cost of living, and more personal time. Not to mention not having to work in a desert environment year round.

    God Bless America is all I can say.

  79. Well! this is so confusing for me.. Guess that most of you people living in the 1st. world countries see the things from such a different perspective.

    I my country they rob you, kill you for a cell phone, kidnapping is an everyday issue, much easier than working for 12 hours a day right?.

    I’m glad there’s so much work to do in the UAE so they don’t die starving in their countries; and they have the option to go to another country to get food on their tables. Glad to know they are good, working people, that didn’t choose the easy way (robbing and kidnaping me, to get the money I earn working 10 hours a day, 6 days a week).

  80. @Jeffrey B Glad to read that lines! God Bless America. I love so much visiting and spending time in the US, and sadly I’ve found so many ungrateful Americans (ungrateful with the great country/conditions they’re Blessed with), and almost 90% of them haven’t been OUTSIDE the US, I think that’s the main reason.

    Maybe if those American citizens spent some time in a third world country, they can appreciate what they have! (not the 50$/ month avg. salary in my country).

  81. Well, I have to agree with this article. My father, two brothers, in-law and I worked there, so trust me, I know what I am saying.

    My father worked in a major telecom company for two decades. He dedicated his entire life away from us (still he sees us as children though we are already nearly 30 year olds) working for a company that would later leave him in the dust. When the “localization” in the UAE started, everyone else who are expats (especially those from the developing countries) were instantly terminated. My dad happens to be one of the very first technicians in the state he was assigned in by that company, but just like everyone else, he was disposed, got rid off, in just a snap of a finger, giving him a month to find a new job to sustain his visa to stay in that country. Luckily, my dad had to beg for the HR people (whom he is close with through the years of working together), to not cancel him immediately, since A.) No one wants to immediately hire him because he is already nearing the age of retirement and B.) I was under his visa. They did granted his request, being able to keep his visa for 8 months (living on canned foods and cheap biryanis) until he finally got a job that offered him meager salary just to keep our visa alive. It’s just so sad how they did not even appreciate the people who help build this once barren land.

    Same goes for us siblings, working 8-12 hours per day x 6 days per week. Heck, I am not even compensated for my extra hours, they view it as “inefficiency” on your part.

    Sorry, this is long, but I just want to share the experiences I had with this country. Yes, it is a beautiful place to live in if you are earning a good 5-6 figures per month. But for ordinary employees, this is just a place to “work-save enough money-move back to your country”.

  82. I lived in Dubai for 4.5 years & I often felt very sorry for the “workers” I come from an area that some in first world countries would categorise as lower socio economic so I never viewed a cleaner at the mall foodcourt or a waitress as a worker. Just as another human & thats where they worked. The term worker seems appropriate in Dubai because these people are there to do nothing but work. But in an ideal world, where noone is ever treated as less than another based on the country they happened to be born in… wait a minute we don’t live in that world! So yes these people do only go there to work & quite often support a family living in poverty in the Philippines, India, Pakistan, Bangladesh. And yes I do believe that the UAE locals as a minority being only 10% of thier own country, should definitely start to embrace “workers” as equal human beings if they don’t want thier country to be a ghost town when the oil runs out, but the poverty in the workers home countries is a bigger issue that needs to be addressed first. Until then our somewhat guilty enjoyment of cheaper services like massage, taxis, dry cleaning & eating out is atleast paying the wages of these workers that have all come from countries with bigger problems. But do tip them even if it’s not customary in your own country. These people deserve it.

  83. I am french and I’ve been twice in UAE for few months. I thought to doing business there but after my trips I changed my mind…I really prefer paying taxes and living safety in my country…is not at all security for business despite free taxes…i am disappointed of all this advertising for Dubai and UAE…this kind of huge Disney with no rules …

  84. I was working in Dubai for a couple of months and I noticed the working conditions. I used to work 11 hours a day as an engineer and thought that was bad. But when I saw the workers in the factory, they had bigger problems.slogging for 14 to 16 hours a day with a pay of 4 dhirams per hour which was really pathetic and most workers whom I met were under depression. One of the worker told me how he was promised 1000 dhirams /month in India. But after getting his visa stamped and starting his work, 200 was deducted from his pay(Food charge). Most of the times they used find cockroach in their food. Unfortunately no one took action. I have seen men in tears. denied annual leave despite working for 3 years without a break.

    There is absolutly no value for human life. Looking at all this. I said good bye.
    The thing that angered me was the pay scale for different nationalities…………..

  85. Generally speaking the UAE provides work for mostly everyone, and most are able to save something, some even are able to send money back to there home countries. Which is a good thing I guess. But the government does try it’s best to take as much as it can from the people (Salik, Paid Parking, very high ticket fines, internet fees, very high rent)
    Human rights on the other hand do not exist in the UAE. The locals here believe they are a different breed of humans, that they are better then the rest. That they deserve to be treated differently. Bunch of bull shit.
    To be honest I have never in my entre life seen a bunch of hypocrites like the local people here (including all GCC countries). The rich perform Friday prayer and then have sex with anything that moves at night. They have multiple wives, just so that they can have sex legally without anyone telling them that it is Haram. And when asked why they have multiple wives, they start becoming religious and start talking about the prophet (P.B.U.H) and how they want to be like him.
    I will post more next time, I have to walk the dog. Bye

  86. I think to be fair, one should not judge UAE using U.S. (or Western) standards. The most important question is “Would those workers be better off staying in their home countries?” When I was in Dubai, I had some good conversations with a few taxi drivers and hotel employees. I always ask 1) how long they have been there and 2) have they been back to their home countries. One taxi driver had been there for 17 years and he had been back to his home country (India). When asked if he likes living in Dubai, he said that it is only for work. But the fact is this. He CHOSE to work in Dubai for 17 years, and had a chance to go back and stay in India means that despite all the bad things about working in Dubai. He CHOSE Dubai over India.

    At the hotel (one of the U.S.-based brand), I talked to a few foreign employees ranging from developed countries (Belgium) to third world country (Philippines). All of them are happy with their jobs and they have been there for a few years. The Filipino pool attendant told me that he had been there for 8 years. He would have to be an assistant manager in his home country to make the same amount of money. And yes, he went back to his home country a few times. He CHOSE Dubai over Philippines. Granted, it is an international hotel. A lesser known hotel may not treat their employees the same way.

  87. After having been about 10 times in Dubai and five times in Saudi-Arabia for work-related visits I have sworn to myself never to go there again. People from India, Bangladesh & other poorer countries are treated like sub-human beings. This starts already at immigration where all western looking travelers were allowed to use fast track lanes, whereas the less fortunate have to wait for ages and are treated badly by the locals. Pakistani working 12 hours in the sweltering heat and receive the equivalent of US $ 300 per month. In the meantime there are so many internet sites that may spread the truth banned in Dubai ( in the KSA there are probably more banned than allowed sites) that without a VPN you feel like cut off from the real world. The locals have wine-testings, sex parties and many are hardcore drug users, but everyone else gets punished severly for any of these “offenses” Gay people are blackmailed by locals and the NIgerian mafia, and you land in jail easier for “lewd acts” than for extortion. Human rights and common sense haven´t been heard of and the Islam is just used to keep a small, often uneducated clique in control. But still the dumb tourists from the so-called 1st world flock to this madhouse and make the Al Maktoums richer by the hour. If you don´t need to be there stay away, there are nicer, friendlier and definitely much better places on this planet !

  88. Well I just saw this. I have lived there, and from experience, people don’t speak out, not because they don’t care, but simply because they are afraid. Saying anything negative about the government in public can get you arrested, so people tend to stay away from these issues….

  89. I feel exactly the same as the writer. Visited Dubai for two weeks. Thye are using these foreign workers like ants, once you are tired or dont have a job they kick you out of the country. Local arabs are lazy and have plenty of money. Only thing they can do is invest and then they call them selves “business” men. Locals don´t have skills, that´s why europeans and americans do all the engineering etc for them, 3rd country people do the serving and cleaning while arabs watch TV. Women walking heads covered every where, crazy. Arab men wont let women go alone with other girl friends to party etc. They must be watched all times! Very racist country in this way.

  90. Dubai sucks they thing they are better then any other people but they are happy to suck up to white race I visited there from usa and I don’t ever gonna visit there again

  91. This terrible slave trade will never end till all those 3rd worlders are willing to accept shitty salaries, screwing de facto the jobs market.
    In the end you’re not only what there’s written in your CV, but what you’re able to negotiate.

    Especially the qualified IT specialists from India, if really they’re skilled enough to compete with western people, pack your stuff and try the move to EU or NA where there’s such a dynamic market in the IT that they’re throwing visas here and there to Msc degrees with 1/2 years of experience, and where you can get real money like the locals and integrate easily with the locals.

  92. It’s the way these GCC countries are. If it was colonized properly by the British then non of this would have happened. But can’t really blame Britain or any other country, I mean who the hell would want to colonize a desert in the first place.

  93. UAE is one of the dream country for people who wana change their fortunes and make it big. There are many business tycoon in UAE from India who are among the richest and influential personalities in UAE. One example which clearly shows that UAE is nothing but land of dreams is of P Mohamed Ali and Ravi Pillai, who started their career from scratch and build their empire.

  94. This folks, is another case of communism ruining it’s people. Kerela, other than Bengal is the most communist state in our country. It boasts an amazing HDI, far ahead of other states in the country, yet it can’t build enough industries to keep it’s relatively fairly small population employed. The labourers have two options. Migrate to the east or north to Tamil Nadu (where I live) or Karnataka where there are a lot of jobs available in agriculture and construction, but you need to compete with hordes of migrants from the Ganges belt so you’re not going to get paid a lot, or make a leap of faith and go to the “gulf” where you’re going to get treated like an indentured servant. Pretty depressing indeed, but unless the Keralites vote out the communists, they’re not going to see anything different.

  95. i just returned from dubai this was my second visit i enjoyed every minutes of it yes may be the immigrant workers are not treated well i have talked to few of them they are happy that they are feeding their families back home and they will return after few years with money to change their life for the better i watched a documentary few years back about the mexican in the US i think they are not better than workers in dubai it might be worse i will visit again at least it is safe at night you dont see people drunk in the streets and you dont hear swearing the best part of my trip was the day we spent with a group of friends in the desert

  96. Why are so many europeans and americans posting here bashing thr UAE and other middle eastern countries? I am sure these are all mainly white people and how does it matter to you what the living conditions of labour in Dubai are like? And how dare you lump all Indians into one category or slave labour? There are more Indian billionaires than anywhere in the middle east and Asia. The poor Indians who go to work in UAE know what thry are getting into and they are happy about it as they earn five times more and build homes back in India, in a way India is getting richer because these labour class send billions of dollars back home collectively each year. Most labour in dubai live in appalling conditions by their own choice, they can afford to live in better accomodation but they take the cheapest place to live just because they are in Dubai for only one reason – to work and save as much as they can and then build a better future back home. UAE is not an immigrant country, its a temporary work country. And what are all the whites here screaming about when your western countries are all super racist, and exploit everyone they can. Western countries claim to have strong human rights but go take a look at the ghettos in camden new jersey or south florida…or even the bronx and brooklyn, bad areas of chicago etc, they are worse much worse than the peaceful living condition in UAE. Europe has its only ghettos too, go to hackney in London and bradford and stratford and the Banelieus of Paris….its all sickening, there are such dangerous areas in these cities where even the police are scared to enter. At least the slaves in dubai arent fearing for their lives and are sleeping peacefully at night even in their bad little housing? Western countries are out of control with anti social behaviour, and no class, culture or dignity left, its all going to hell and the gap between rich and poor is also growing rapidly. London and UK have the widest gap in rich / poor, and the french claim to be all equals…but they only want to keep equality limited to the white middle classes of france, poverty in france is depressing and sickening, take the RER in paris sometime to go to any of the suburbs and u will see what dangerous horrible living conditions actually mean.

    Dubai is a clean modern city, uae doesnt claim to be high in human rights but they live with dignity. Europeans have exploited the world for centuries and continue to do so, i dont even want to go near the european history of slavery and toruture, before giving lecutres to Arabs and Indians and others, europens should first look into their own backside.

  97. I am living in this country 6 years all what i can say i totally agree with your opinion.
    All of us in UAE no matter from where we come from we are SLAVES for them !!!!!
    They are still in civilization shock cannot manage themselves.
    If i will be here alone without husband or kids i would never stay here one second longer after i see so many things by my eyes !!!!

  98. Many countries all over the world have problems with accept someone who cames from a 3rd country. And the ‘slaves’ are real in all parties. Desnt matter if the indians in uae, the affricans in europe, the mexican in us, the chineses and haitians in brazil… Well.. they represent how a human dont care other.

  99. Beats bombing and destabilising other countries to steal resources. How many of your products do you think are derived from minerals in Africa or how important do you think securing supplies to oil are to preserving first world lifestyles? Globalisation is considered a good thing when rich countries benefit from trade but if foreign workers compete for first world jobs it’s suddenly evil, eh? When being a civilised person or nation is costly out come the barbarians. In theory it’s a right thing to do to shelter refugees fleeing for their lives but out come the wingnuts calling them invaders and terrorists.

  100. The so-called modern Gulf countries their only real business is to rent out everything, remember this country is all about renting, building and renting, and people who work , majority of modest labor or staff on jobs always compromise on living standards there, to get some peace of decent living, not allowed to freelance, to earn extra, if visa is someone else’s you cannot do anything extra to earn and pay your bills, it’s considered a crime, strangely people still do till they are caught, things like its impossible to easily change jobs or get your family from your home country to live together, unaffordable is the word, everything is low quality for lesser salaried staff, the landlords earn from renting out buildings, shops and offices or homes, putting fines on tenants without knowing the financial condition of the families and the banks keep harassing, too many heart patients and diabetics and obese people on the rise because of worry to pay or being haggled and chased, for private businesses there are only hundreds of business licenses and junk documents without real business, other than some exceptions, forget about making profits, all glitter is bank loan/credit rolled for everyone, bounced cheques invite harshest punishments, loans never get closed, only specialized nationalities are given extraordinary high salaries who also get the job done by underpaid assisting staff who are actually more qualified. All modest people live with fear of the system and almost all are trapped, explore yourself then you will know, many expatriates resort to credit cards and loans and then it’s hard for them to leave, not for the love of the country, but due to fear, who cares there really, it has nothing for expatriates really. don’t waste your time and junk your life there, earn lesser freelance and work respectfully in your own country or work elsewhere with full freedom to do whatever you like or change jobs overnight, or live with the trust of friends, nobody to bother you or put you in trouble, value your life. Every life is precious and every life is to be cherished.

  101. It’s funny how white people are complaining about labor conditions in middle eastern countries when you’re the ones who have promoted actively to globalize the whole world. How do you think you get your fancy brands of clothing or shoes? You get it by enslaving millions upon millions of third world workers. What about all those Mexicans who work in your manufactures? Or the east Europeans in UK? You people are jealous that there are few countries in the middle east that are prospering. These workers who come to Gulf countries are doing that by their own will, they know about the rules and choose to come to have good salaries to go back and have a decent life. A poor person from south Asia or southeast Asia can work hard in their own countries for years and they will not have the same high salaries that they’ve it in GCC in a few months or two years. He can’t have that at home or in white country like yours. You will hate it if your countries has more than 88% brown people. I bet you will do another Holocaust if something like that happened to your humane European countries or in USA but in GCC the local people are fine with it and there’s no single ‘nazi’ groups here.

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