This was the title of tonight’s 20/20 special on Dubai. Most people in the Arab world know much of Dubai’s achievements in the Gulf when it comes to building a top notch tourist destination. For the first 10 minutes of the 20/20 episode made its American audience just as aware of these achievements. From the Burj Al-Arab to the indoor ski slopes to the palm island. But when it came to building the tallest building in the world the episode began to shift gears…
You don’t hear too much about the workers that have built Dubai and the episode was somewhat revealing. The first thing that came to mind when I was watching it was whether it would actually get aired in the Middle East. 20/20 is shown on MBC 4 which I believe broadcasts from the UAE.
The show really took a sharp jab at Sheik Mohammad specifically, describing the living conditions of the horses being better than those of the workers. In all fairness most of these horses are worth millions and millions of dollars and I don’t know many human beings worth that much. But other than that the episode was pretty disappointing. I would’ve expected more from investigative journalism but what spotlight they aimed to shine on the problem only lasted for 5 minutes tops. The show really fell short of the bar it tends to set when it came to this piece, which was strangely enough followed by a piece on peeping toms.
In any case the episode referred a great deal to this very recent Human Rights Report on Dubai entitled Building Towers, Cheating Workers.
You can read a summary of the 20/20 report here.
Lord knows we’re starting to see similar conditions in Jordan with the Qualified Industrial Zones which have been compared to sweat shops. But it’s probably a safe assumption to say it’s nothing compared to the realities in Dubai. My point is that most Arab countries seem to be suffering from the same symptoms and the richer the country the worse the conditions. However the globalization argument has always been that as bad as the conditions are the workers still prefer it to the conditions they would have to deal with back home.