4-10 March 2016 #798

Work in progress

Dubai is one of the wealthiest and most luxurious cities in the world, and it is the migrant workers who toil here that make this lifestyle possible
Jan Møller Hansen in DUBAI

A hidden army of millions of labourers from India, Pakistan, Philippines, Bangladesh, Nepal and other Asian countries construct and maintain the gleaming skyscrapers, sprawling shopping malls, roads, hotels, sports facilities in Dubai – a city that has erupted on the shores of the Arabian desert.

This is one of the wealthiest and most luxurious cities in the world, and it is the migrant workers who toil here that make this lifestyle possible. They created the physical environment, they maintain it in prosperity and luxury.

In return they get a little bit of the wealth, which they send home to take care of their families and prop up the home economies. Salaries and facilities in Dubai are better than some other countries where Nepali migrant workers go. However, their quarters are congested and some of the labour practices are problematic.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) says in a recent study that 100 per cent of Nepali workers in the Gulf countries have their passports withheld, 80 per cent are confined to their place of employment, 76 per cent do not receive wages on time, 61 per cent have endured physical abuse, 52 per cent have reported excessive working hours and 50 per cent have been deprived of basic nourishment like food and drinks.

In addition, the price migrant workers pay for their salaries is prolonged separation from their families.

All Pics: Jan Møller Hansen
A Nepali migrant worker gets ready for work in the morning, he shares the small room with four others.

‘T’ is from Ilam. He cleans toilets in the worker’s dormitory where he lives in Al Quoz industrial area of Dubai. He earns $180 a month for 10-15 hour work days. He saves a little more than half of that and sends it home to support his wife and two children.

Workers are bused out early to their construction sites across Dubai.

Rajesh Neupane is from Palpa and has worked six and half years as a storekeeper in Dubai. He earns $450 a month and is able to save $300 working 10 hour shifts and sometimes has to work 14 hours with no overtime.

Gobin Thapa is from Jhapa but had moved to Darjeeling before migrating to Dubai to work as a security guard. He is 30 and has been here three years.

Read also:

United Arab Emigrants, Om Astha Rai

Working away from home, Pattabi Raman

Killed in the line of duty, Om Astha Rai

Workers in exile, Clare Hennig

Sudden death, Pete Pattison

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