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Dubai's Labor Under-Class Riots--at my Dad's construction site!

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
I read this in the New York Times this morning. Here's a link: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/03/26/international/middleeast/26dubai.html?pagewanted=2&_r=1

This is an excellent example of how the New York Times--and big-media in general--choose to report half the story. They report on the poor labor conditions, but don't report the BLATANTLY racist salary spectrum that exists there.

South Asian construction workers rioted at the site of the Burj Dubai Tower, which is to be the world's tallest building (160 stories). My father is a project manager for some aspect of the mamouth undertaking run by Turner Construction. Not even a week ago he was telling me about how badly the workers are paid. The NYT article notes the sallary of one construction worker...who gets paid 60 TIMES LESS than my white, Canadian progenitor.

I was in Dubai for the first time over the summer, and the conditions were plainly obvious for anyone who chose to look. There is an obvious class system in affect. There is a miniscule local ethnic population, the Emiratees, who are the Royalty. Then you have the Westerners who perform management, consulting and analytical jobs; they are the Nobility. At the bottom is a huge population of Asian-mostly Indian, Pakistani, Indonesian and Philipino--laborers that get paid the absolute bare minimum for survival; they are wage-slaves. And THEY are the ones doing the REAL work--i.e. actually physically building that totally amazing city. Dubai is explicitly meant for rich people--the huge under-class performs all of the service jobs that cater to those above them, much in the same way that Blacks and Mexicans in America perform all the shitty service jobs. It's a disgrace.

Now, I haven't heard from my dad today--I'm not sure if the workers acted violently towards their masters or if they just destroyed property. My dad only moved their about six months ago and he & my mom are very sympathetic and generous to everyone that performs in that service capacity. They are actually ashamed when they see how REALLY eager these workers are to please them. It makes them feel very awkward because when they moved to Canada (from Romania as refugees) they were 100% BROKE by the time they managed to get landed immigrant status.

I'd like to reitterate that the New York Times does not--in any capacity--mention to blatant racism and classism that form the basis of payment schema in Dubai. Let alone the payment for ANY women regardless of their class of ethnicity. My mom is a practically savant computer programmer and everyone tells her that she simply cannot expect to earn as much there as she did here, regardless of how talented she is. As for the ethnic thing, white people and certain Arabs (Gulf Arabs) are the preferred cast who get paid tens and hundreds of times more than the laborers.

Dubai is lauded by US-style "free market" capitalists as the ultimate manifestation of their myopic economic ideology. There are no taxes of any kind in Dubai--except on alcohol, of course. Unions are strictly forbidden, as are political parties, or any instutition that competes with any state institution. Their media system is like any western country's--i.e. heavily controlled for the purpose of managing domestic public opinion. While i was there, I read a news story about the ministry of education closing down an "unauthorised" school--I took that to mean an Islamic school teaching too fundamentalist a curriculum, that would have to denounce the white-knuckled economic system that prevails there.

On the positive side of thigns in Dubai, they have an excellent support system for Autistic children--far better than in Canada, for example. My brother, 20, is deeply autistic and the ministry in charge of that kind of thing extended really generous invitations to help my parents with anything they needed, putting them in contact with specialists for that which causes his autism (tuburous sclerosis), transportation and special 'house staff' that 1) are trained for and 2) want to work with autistic kids, etc. The locals are also WAY friendlier to him than people in Canada (generally)--they feel no sense of discomfort or awkwardness. In fact, when they see him--you can tell by his facial expression that he's autistic--they immediately treat him with particularly warm affection and pay extra attention to him; right off the bat, no prompting and explanation. I'm talking about normal people--except for white people, who don't know how to handle it. They also have a labor ministry that OSTENSIBLY is meant to support the disenfranchised and abused labor force--but that's bullshit because there are 80 employees for nearly 1,000,000 foreign workers employed by 20,000 companies.

Finally, I'd like to pre-empt the cliche ideological rhetoric that is sometimes parroted in defense of gross sallary inequality. To say that "well if they don't like it, they can leave" is not just cynical sophistry, it is factually incorrent: for most of the laborers employers own their immigration rights--literally--and have the authority to prevent the worker from 1) leaving the country and/or 2) working for another company EVEN if the individual is fired or quits. Saying that economically abused individuals are "free" to choose a higher paying job is disingenuous, because that "freedom" exists exclusively in the realm of rhetoric. That is because people need to eat, have shelter and procure hygene--since the acquisition of these survival-basics depends exclusively on the posession of money, wage slavery is in effect. Telling someone "look, if you're not happy with these conditions, you are free to leave" is actually a threat: "You are free to be poor and destitute; go ahead, exersize your freedom!" I don't know if anyone was actually going to use that argument, but I've heard it too many times elsewhere.

When I hear back from my dad, I'll let you know what he experienced today.
 
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man_slut

TRIBE Member
Meh, no different here... women get paid less than men and are in less positions of POWER. A white guy will get paid more than a visible minority. It's not as bad but it exists here also. It's the nature of Capitalism... craphty fuckers !
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
Meh, no different here... women get paid less than men and are in less positions of POWER. A white guy will get paid more than a visible minority. It's not as bad but it exists here also. It's the nature of Capitalism... craphty fuckers !

No doubt. But there, it's a waaay more extreme manifestation than it is here. Women are used as a competitive leverage here in order to drive down everyone's wages, i.e. doubling the labor supply. But in that culture, women are generally discouraged from working--obviously they do work, but not nearly in the same proportions as here. Anyways, I don't like it where ever it's going on.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
odd how indians have no problem rioting a "class" system in Dubai
but dont do too much about the "caste" system in india.
 
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SellyCat

TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
odd how indians have no problem rioting a "class" system in Dubai
but dont do too much about the "caste" system in india.

Probably because they ones who make it to Dubai are not the untouchable caste--and it's informal in Dubai. I should also point out that I don't know the specific ethnographic make-up of the workers who at that site--they may have all been indonesian or philipino, let's say
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
SellyCat said:
Probably because they ones who make it to Dubai are not the untouchable caste--and it's informal in Dubai. I should also point out that I don't know the specific ethnographic make-up of the workers who at that site--they may have all been indonesian or philipino, let's say

all this tells me is that arabs, like white people and like indians all think they are ethnically better than everyone else.

hope your dad is safe, my dad turned down work in the UAE several years ago doing restoration work on goverment offices for tons of $$ but tight security.

good luck.

J
 

Colm

TRIBE Member
My gf's parents have lived in the UAE for the past 4 years working with the Sheikh, both old and new. Recently, her dad went as the Sheikh's personal doctor on a vacation to Morocco - complete with super security detail. So far he's not had any problems with violence, yet nevertheless utilizes all of the security options at his disposal.

He has benefited financially from working there, but of course, does not like the overt racism. If you're a national, you're filthy rich. If you're white, your pretty rich. If you're anything else, you're poor.

Or so he says.
 

Ditto Much

TRIBE Member
wow this is going to weigh in on me fairly hard. I'm currently in negotiations with a Bank in Dubai in regards to a job.
 
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Gizmo

TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
odd how indians have no problem rioting a "class" system in Dubai
but dont do too much about the "caste" system in india.

Legislation like the Mandal Commission Report would probably show you otherwise.

Sellycat, I lived in Dubai for 10 years. While it's a lot like you mentioned, there are substantial Asian classes that do very well there. A lot of Pakistani and Indian families have been there for a while and pretty entrenched. In the banking sector for example. The Emirates Bank International (the Middle East's largest bank) is mostly Indian run at the mid to senior mgmt levels, although, at the top it is an Arab enterprise) Families like the Chabria's, the Choitrams Group etc. The Iranians have also done very well...if you look at companies like the Galadari group.


But by 1994, I was ready to leave, in part to the racism I was seeing there. Stuff like Asians getting turned away from clubs and Europeans being allowed in. (And the club owner was an Indian! theorising that Europeans drank more and were better for business) The worst treatment I've seen was sadly for Fillipinos...mostly due to their status as manual labour. We had the Filipino Consul General's son in our school. the amount of flack he took from the local kids and some of the Brits was sickening.

However, this is anecdotal evidence, but I found the Arabs in the Gulf could be slotted into their attitudes towards others by country. The Omani's for example were very nice. Bahrain's as well. I tied the UAE and Qatar together.
Kuwaitis were downright nasty, and their attitude to expatriates is well documented.

It's strange, out of my class 50% of us have left with no intent to go back, while 50% stayed to work there and live for their lives (I was in the expatriate school) I don't think I could live there again cept for holidays because it's changed so much as a city. Dubai used to be laid back, great money. But from what my friends still there say and what I saw this past winter it's just become a total rat race now. So many people are moving there in an effort to make money and enticed by the news reports that employers are just taking salaries down big time as they know they have so much demand for their jobs.

Ditto, what bank are you interviewing with? Mashreq? EBI?

Edit: Also the workers there come from the following backgrounds mostly:

Indians: The South, Kerala, Tamil Nadu
Fillipinos
Pakistanis : It was the Pathans, quite a lot of Afghan Pathans as well.
Sudan

But Dubai is a trading city. I remember when the CIS collapsed and the first wave of Russians arrived in 1993 to buy cheap electronics to take back to the former Republics...the Indian / Arab shopkeepers all picked up conversational Russian in about 3 weeks. It was crazy.
 
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deafplayer

TRIBE Member
docta seuss said:
i don't understand how racial inequity has anything to do with capitalism..
because the political/economic inequality characteristic of capitalism is bound to interact with and reflect other social inequalities? *cough*slavery*cough*
 
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SellyCat

TRIBE Member
I was actually going to say that I thought equating racism with capitalism was a logical falacy. But deafplayer is right--that's a really good point. Inequalities *always* interact!

I also happen to know that said player is not deaf at all.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
Gizmo said:
Legislation like the Mandal Commission Report would probably show you otherwise.
.


this was a good topical link i found,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandal_Commission

interesting, this is certainly not new to north america where for a long time governments have encouraged the hiring of minority status people for jobs, and entrenching a minority representation-based hiring blueprint for the civil service at all levels of canadian government.

essentially attempting to reverse archaic and rascist practices by reversing them in hopes that "like cures like".

accept i dont see your inital point, i cant remember the last time there was a news story about a major riot in india over protests to the caste system, though im sure other civil unrest htat happens is in someway an expression of this frustration. i jsut found it ironic how a people under adject racial divides would riot and get media attention when they come from a state so engulfed in such divisions yet precious little is said of it in mainstream media.
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
judge wopner said:
this was a good topical link i found,

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mandal_Commission

interesting, this is certainly not new to north america where for a long time governments have encouraged the hiring of minority status people for jobs, and entrenching a minority representation-based hiring blueprint for the civil service at all levels of canadian government.

essentially attempting to reverse archaic and rascist practices by reversing them in hopes that "like cures like".

accept i dont see your inital point, i cant remember the last time there was a news story about a major riot in india over protests to the caste system, though im sure other civil unrest htat happens is in someway an expression of this frustration. i jsut found it ironic how a people under adject racial divides would riot and get media attention when they come from a state so engulfed in such divisions yet precious little is said of it in mainstream media.


Okay first of all, most of the protestors in Dubai were not Indians.

Second, you can't presume to speak for the attitudes of A BILLION Indians! If there were protests in various places, there is no guarantee--or even reasonable assumption--that we would have ever heard about it.
 

Gizmo

TRIBE Member
Your initial statement was that "odd that Indians don't do much about the Caste system in India"

My point was to show the Mandal commission did, it changed the constitution and hiring laws, university entrance laws. It's pretty major legislation on the ground in India as it has made material changes.

Then your next part seems to be that riots are the only way people can affect change in the caste system. Well, there were major riots leading up the Mandal Report, and following it afterwards.

There have caste inspired riots / unrest in the following areas in the past areas in India recently:

1. Belkhed, Maharashtra, September 2005, Dalits vs. Thakurs.
2. The town of Mau, outside Lucknow in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh experienced caste / communal rioting in November 2005.
3. There's always shit going down in Bihar, India's poorest state by a mile.

You can get coverage of more detailed news on India by going to www.samachar.com which has links to all Indian newspapers.

Sellycat, hang around, the Wopner School of International Assumptions is good for at least one sweeping generalisation a week.
 
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judge wopner

TRIBE Member
SellyCat said:
Okay first of all, most of the protestors in Dubai were not Indians.

Second, you can't presume to speak for the attitudes of A BILLION Indians! If there were protests in various places, there is no guarantee--or even reasonable assumption--that we would have ever heard about it.

who is speaking for a billion indians?

read my post you actually quoted miss smellycat.

:p
 
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judge wopner

TRIBE Member
Gizmo said:
Your initial statement was that "odd that Indians don't do much about the Caste system in India"

My point was to show the Mandal commission did, it changed the constitution and hiring laws, university entrance laws. It's pretty major legislation on the ground in India as it has made material changes.

Then your next part seems to be that riots are the only way people can affect change in the caste system. Well, there were major riots leading up the Mandal Report, and following it afterwards.

There have caste inspired riots / unrest in the following areas in the past areas in India recently:

1. Belkhed, Maharashtra, September 2005, Dalits vs. Thakurs.
2. The town of Mau, outside Lucknow in the North Indian state of Uttar Pradesh experienced caste / communal rioting in November 2005.
3. There's always shit going down in Bihar, India's poorest state by a mile.

You can get coverage of more detailed news on India by going to www.samachar.com which has links to all Indian newspapers.

Sellycat, hang around, the Wopner School of International Assumptions is good for at least one sweeping generalisation a week.

awesome!!!! ive always fancied my self dean of some sort of pseudo academic institution,

ill read more into it, though my point about not hearing much about in the media is pretty fair. these riots in dubai were on CNN and the CBC, the 3 points you referenced were ignored or vaguely referenced, dont you find it kind of odd.

though someone just said most of the rioters werent indian so i guess it donest really matter!!!
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
docta seuss said:
i don't understand how racial inequity has anything to do with capitalism..

Because the capitalist system is typically racist... did you not read the rest of my post? If you look at those who control wealth they are usually men and depending on which country you are from, lets use Dubai as an example, those that hold power have racial preferances to thier own race. In some countries it's obvious and in others it's not as obvious. Racism, sexism, elitism, greed, ect... are all inherent in capitalism. Capitalism is a white male construct...
 

man_slut

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
Because the capitalist system is typically racist... did you not read the rest of my post? If you look at those who control wealth they are usually men and depending on which country you are from, lets use Dubai as an example, those that hold power have racial preferances to thier own race. In some countries it's obvious and in others it's not as obvious. Racism, sexism, elitism, greed, ect... are all inherent in capitalism. Capitalism is a white male construct...

Furthermore:

"under the pressure of market competition owners inevitably exploit racial and gender hierarchies produced in other parts of society.

When extra economic factors reduce the bargaining power of some actors and raise that of others or when they impact expectations about who should rule and who should obey -- seeking profit, capitalists abide and even enlarge the injustices."

- Michael Albert

I've been reading his book "Life After Capitalism"
 

SellyCat

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
Furthermore:

"under the pressure of market competition owners inevitably exploit racial and gender hierarchies produced in other parts of society.

When extra economic factors reduce the bargaining power of some actors and raise that of others or when they impact expectations about who should rule and who should obey -- seeking profit, capitalists abide and even enlarge the injustices."

- Michael Albert

I've been reading his book "Life After Capitalism"

And that phenomenon explicitly and necessarily contradicts and disproves the "free market" ideology. It's an illusion--a ver convenient one that allows an entire international construct to be developed specifically to ensure the permanent and increasing strength of pwerful actors and the weakness of weak ones.
 

judge wopner

TRIBE Member
man_slut said:
Furthermore:

"under the pressure of market competition owners inevitably exploit racial and gender hierarchies produced in other parts of society.

When extra economic factors reduce the bargaining power of some actors and raise that of others or when they impact expectations about who should rule and who should obey -- seeking profit, capitalists abide and even enlarge the injustices."

- Michael Albert

I've been reading his book "Life After Capitalism"

the statesman who should attempt to direct private people in what manner they ought to employ their capitals would assume an authority which would nowhere be so dangerous as in the hands of a man who had folly and presumption enought to fancy himself fit to exercise it.

(Adam Smith)
 
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