Update 4/19 - Here are two articles written by fellow bloggers; giving their own opinions regarding Dubai and the Johann Hari article, which apparently caused a big to do when it was first published. There are those who are for and against Hari’s article and what actually goes on in Dubai. the comments in both of these blogs are particularly interesting. Christopher Saul read my post and took the time to write a comment (thank you!), asking me to reconsider my current view about visiting Dubai. This post has generated really great dialogue; whether I agree or disagree, it’s great to hear the thoughts and opinions of others. Talking to each other is what helps to make this world we live in go around.
For my next birthday, which is a very special birthday (not that all birthdays aren’t special, just that this one is particularly special to me) I wanted to go to Dubai with my sister as an extra special birthday treat. I have friends who have visited; who have told me stories of how lavish and beautiful, and extremely hot it is. My friends told me how they were treated like royalty from the moment they stepped off the plane, to their fabulous hotels, the man-made beaches; the dining and super expensive and amazing shopping, everything was at their fingertips. What they didn’t tell me; what they themselves did not know is what’s behind the scenes in Dubai, what the tourists never see.
I was forwarded an article which was written in 2009 by Johann Hari of the Independent Newspaper (a UK publication). What I read was disturbing and a major eye opener.
I did not know about the maxed out British expats who went to Dubai seeking their fortunes and then when the bubble burst they lost everything; I read about the British woman who was homeless living in her Range Rover after her husband got sick (this is Dubai!!). I did not know about the men from Bangladesh, Pakistan and India who had to pay approx $2000 for a work visa, who were promised $400 per month for an 9-5 p.m. construction job (which was far more than they could ever make in their own countries) but were instead paid $90 per month and forced to work in 110 degree heat (most times higher) with barely any breaks, and for much longer hours, how about 15 hours a day! Is this not a form of modern-day slavery?
I did not know these men had their passports taken away the minute they landed in Dubai because the first thing they had to do was work off paying back the fees it took to get them there, which they are now in debt to loan sharks back home. They live in crowded camps, with 8 or more men sharing one room; far away from the tourists, where they are bussed in each day to construction sites and then bussed back out again. And now that the bubble has slowed construction in Dubai, all of the European and American construction companies have moved out, leaving half-finished buildings and these men to fend for themselves. How do you fend for yourself when you have no money and your passport has been taken from you? The company which brought you there has now left and taken your passport with them, and your embassy will or won’t do anything to help you.
The suicide rate among these migrant workers is horrifying, the people there are so used to a daily suicide that the bodies are just scraped off the payment and life goes on in its everyday luxurious and extravagant fashion.
I could go on and on in this post, but you’ve really got to read this article, to really feel what is going on there. The reporter wrote a really thought-provoking piece; it is truly mind-boggling. We all think of Dubai as this wealthy enclave, catering to every whim of their visitors, untouchable by hardship, well apparently that isn’t so. Why has there not been more of an outcry about this?
I know a lot goes on in the world that I don’t know about, I understand that there is a lot I don’t see, but I could not in good conscience visit a place and enjoy such luxury knowing that thousands of men are experiencing continued hardship and enslavement for my enjoyment. I understand that this article was written in 2009 and my research has shown continued problems (I’ve attached more recent articles below), I just don’t think I could now enjoy my next birthday in Dubai knowing what I know now, just on principle.
So after all of that, where do you suggest I go to celebrate this milestone birthday instead?
You’re thoughts and comments on this post would be greatly appreciated.
- The dark side of Dubai (seeker401.wordpress.com)