The Dark Side of Dubai: Home of Modern Day Slavery


In addition to hosting the tallest building in the world, and lucrative oil reserves, Dubai is also a haven for a luxurious lifestyle and world class shopping.

Average lifestyle of a local Emirati may comprise of having the privilege of driving a Ferrari and having atleast one maid per household. Maybe it’s because their salaries are not taxable? Moreover, Dubai acts as a sanctuary for Arabs seeking refuge from their totalitarian homelands.

However, an ugly reality lurks behind this glamorous facade that may not be recognized by the world; that is, thousands of skyscrapers in Dubai are built by migrant workers!

More than ninety-five percent of the population of Dubai are made up of expatriates, mostly from South Asia. Most have migrated to Dubai in hopes of building a brighter future. However on arrival, their passports maybe seized by airport security or companies in an effort to prevent them from leaving; and upon arrival migrants are transported to Sonapur, on the outskirts of Dubai, far from the glitz and glam of the city.

The basic accommodation hosts on average more than five people living in a claustrophobic room with often no electricity. Even the water supply in the camps are not not distilled causing workers to often fall ill. In addition there is lack of ventilation in the rooms which are often infested by rodents and insects!

Now the government not intervening in wage regulation or setting up minimum working standards for migrant workers, have forced workers to accept whatever they are being paid by their employers. There is not even a bureau to voice their complaints; and refusal to work will either result in deportation or worse, imprisonment. Further, migrant workers are forced to work in the grueling heat, with temperatures often reaching above fifty degree Celsius. During extreme heat conditions the government shuts down tourist attractions, however the workers are forced to continue working.

As a result, it is not a surprise that the suicide rate among the Asian community has been increasing in Dubai over the last couple of years. On average there are nearly two cases of suicide all belonging to migrant workers. A writer for the Guardian once commented that local Emiratis have become immune towards these tragedies.

Ignorance of the harsh working conditions of expatriates makes Dubai look like it has no compassion for the Asian migrant workers. It seems now that economic expansion is the sole priority for this capitalistic society; as behind the facade of elaborate buildings, there lies the hidden horror of the reality of the migrant workers which may as well be classified as modern day human slavery!

This is the deplorable truth that Dubai has been desperately trying to whitewash ever since.