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Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« on: December 31, 2007, 12:34:48 PM »
Sinister Paradise
Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
By Mike Davis

The narration begins: As your jet starts its descent, you are glued to your window. The scene below is astonishing: a 24-square-mile archipelago of coral-colored islands in the shape of an almost finished puzzle of the world. In the shallow green waters between continents, the sunken shapes of the Pyramids of Giza and the Roman Coliseum are clearly visible.

In the distance are three other large island groups configured as palms within crescents and planted with high-rise resorts, amusement parks, and a thousand mansions built on stilts over the water. The "Palms" are connected by causeways to a Miami-like beachfront chock-a-block full of mega-hotels, apartment high-rises and yacht marinas.

As the plane slowly banks toward the desert mainland, you gasp at the even more improbable vision ahead. Out of a chrome forest of skyscrapers (nearly a dozen taller than 1000 feet) soars a new Tower of Babel. It is an impossible one-half-mile high: the equivalent of the Empire State Building stacked on top of itself.

You are still rubbing your eyes with wonderment and disbelief when the plane lands and you are welcomed into an airport emporium where hundreds of shops seduce you with Gucci bags, Cartier watches, and one-kilogram bars of solid gold. You make a mental note to pick up some duty-free gold on your way out.

The hotel driver is waiting for you in a Rolls Royce Silver Seraph. Friends have recommended the Armani Hotel in the 160-story tower or the seven-star hotel with an atrium so huge that the Statue of Liberty would fit inside, but instead you have opted to fulfill a childhood fantasy. You always have wanted to be Captain Nemo in Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea.

Your jellyfish-shaped hotel is, in fact, exactly 66 feet below the sea surface. Each of its 220 luxury suites has clear Plexiglas walls that provide spectacular views of passing mermaids as well as the hotel's famed "underwater fireworks:" a hallucinatory exhibition of "water bubbles, swirled sand, and carefully deployed lighting." Any initial anxiety about the safety of your sea-bottom resort is dispelled by the smiling concierge. The structure has a multi-level failsafe security system, he reassures you, that includes protection against terrorist submarines as well as missiles and aircraft.

Although you have an important business meeting at the Internet City free-trade zone with clients from Hyderabad and Taipei, you have arrived a day early to treat yourself to one of the famed adventures at the Restless Planet dinosaur theme park. Indeed, after a soothing night's sleep under the sea, you are aboard a monorail headed for a Jurassic jungle. Your expedition encounters some peacefully grazing Apatosaurs, but you are soon attacked by a nasty gang of velociraptors. The animatronic beasts are so flawlessly lifelike -- in fact, they have been designed by experts from the British Museum of Natural History -- that you shriek in fear and delight.

With your adrenaline pumped-up by this close call, you polish off the afternoon with some thrilling snowboarding on the local black diamond run. Next door is the Mall of Arabia, the world's largest mall -- the altar of the city's famed Shopping Festival that attracts 5 million frenetic consumers each January -- but you postpone the temptation.

Instead, you indulge in some expensive Thai fusion cuisine at a restaurant near Elite Towers that was recommended by your hotel driver. The gorgeous Russian blond at the bar keeps staring at you with almost vampire-like hunger, and you wonder whether the local sin scene is as extravagant as the shopping?..

The Sequel to Blade Runner?

Welcome to paradise. But where are you? Is this a new science-fiction novel from Margaret Atwood, the sequel to Blade Runner, or Donald Trump tripping on acid?

No, it is the Persian Gulf city-state of Dubai in 2010.

After Shanghai (current population: 15 million), Dubai (current population: 1.5 million) is the world's biggest building site: an emerging dreamworld of conspicuous consumption and what locals dub "supreme lifestyles."

Dozens of outlandish mega-projects -- including "The World" (an artificial archipelago), Burj Dubai (the Earth's tallest building), the Hydropolis (that underwater luxury hotel, the Restless Planet theme park, a domed ski resort perpetually maintained in 40C heat, and The Mall of Arabia, a hyper-mall -- are actually under construction or will soon leave the drawing boards.

Under the enlightened despotism of its Crown Prince and CEO, 56-year-old Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, the Rhode-Island-sized Emirate of Dubai has become the new global icon of imagineered urbanism. Although often compared to Las Vegas, Orlando, Hong Kong or Singapore, the sheikhdom is more like their collective summation: a pastiche of the big, the bad, and the ugly. It is not just a hybrid but a chimera: the offspring of the lascivious coupling of the cyclopean fantasies of Barnum, Eiffel, Disney, Spielberg, Jerde, Wynn, and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill.

Multibillionaire Sheik Mo -- as he's affectionately known to Dubai's expats -- not only collects thoroughbreds (the world's largest stable) and super-yachts (the 525-foot-long Project Platinum which has its own submarine and flight deck), but also seems to have imprinted Robert Venturi's cult Learning from Las Vegas in the same way that more pious Moslems have memorized The Quran. (One of the Sheik's proudest achievements, by the way, is to have introduced gated communities to Arabia.)

Under his leadership, the coastal desert has become a huge circuit board into which the elite of transnational engineering firms and retail developers are invited to plug in high-tech clusters, entertainment zones, artificial islands, "cities within cities" -- whatever is the latest fad in urban capitalism. The same phantasmagoric but generic Lego blocks, of course, can be found in dozens of aspiring cities these days, but Sheik Mo has a distinctive and inviolable criterion: Everything must be "world class," by which he means number one in The Guinness Book of Records. Thus Dubai is building the world's largest theme park, the biggest mall, the highest building, and the first sunken hotel among other firsts.

Sheikh Mo's architectural megalomania, although reminiscent of Albert Speer and his patron, is not irrational. Having "learned from Las Vegas," he understands that if Dubai wants to become the luxury-consumer paradise of the Middle East and South Asia (its officially defined "home market" of 1.6 billion), it must ceaselessly strive for excess.

From this standpoint, the city's monstrous caricature of futurism is simply shrewd marketing. Its owners love it when designers and urbanists anoint it as the cutting edge. Architect George Katodrytis wrote: "Dubai may be considered the emerging prototype for the 21st century: prosthetic and nomadic oases presented as isolated cities that extend out over the land and sea."

Moreover, Dubai can count on the peak-oil epoch to cover the costs of these hyperboles. Each time you spent $40 to fill your tank, you are helping to irrigate Sheik Mo's oasis.

Precisely because Dubai is rapidly pumping the last of its own modest endowment of oil, it has opted to become the postmodern "city of nets" -- as Bertolt Brecht called his fictional boomtown of Mahagonny -- where the super-profits of oil are to be reinvested in Arabia's one truly inexhaustible natural resource: sand. (Indeed mega-projects in Dubai are usually measured by volumes of sand moved: 1 billion cubic feet in the case of The World.)

Al-Qaeda and the war on terrorism deserve some of the credit for this boom. Since 9/11, many Middle Eastern investors, fearing possible lawsuits or sanctions, have pulled up stakes in the West. According Salman bin Dasmal of Dubai Holdings, the Saudis alone have repatriated one-third of their trillion-dollar overseas portfolio. The sheikhs are bringing it back home, and last year, the Saudis were believed to have ploughed at least $7 billion into Dubai's sand castles.

Another aqueduct of oil wealth flows from the neighboring Emirate of Abu Dhabi. The two statelets dominate the United Arab Emirates -- a quasi-nation thrown together by Sheik Mo's father and the ruler of Abu Dhabi in 1971 to fend off threats from Marxists in Oman and, later, Islamists in Iran.

Today, Dubai's security is guaranteed by the American nuclear super-carriers usually berthed at the port of Jebel Ali. Indeed, the city-state aggressively promotes itself as the ultimate elite "Green Zone" in an increasingly turbulent and dangerous region.

Meanwhile, as increasing numbers of experts warn that the age of cheap oil is passing, the al-Maktoum clan can count on a torrent of nervous oil revenue seeking a friendly and stable haven. When outsiders question the sustainability of the current boom, Dubai officials point out that their new Mecca is being built on equity, not debt.

Since a watershed 2003 decision to open unrestricted freehold ownership to foreigners, wealthy Europeans and Asians have rushed to become part of the Dubai bubble. A beachfront in one of the "Palms" or, better yet, a private island in "The World" now has the cachet of St. Tropez or Grand Cayman. The old colonial masters lead the pack as Brit expats and investors have become the biggest cheerleaders for Sheikh Mo's dreamworld: David Beckham owns a beach and Rod Stewart, an island (rumored, in fact, to be named Great Britain).

An Indentured, Invisible Majority

The utopian character of Dubai, it must be emphasized, is no mirage. Even more than Singapore or Texas, the city-state really is an apotheosis of neo-liberal values.

On the one hand, it provides investors with a comfortable, Western-style, property-rights regime, including freehold ownership, that is unique in the region. Included with the package is a broad tolerance of booze, recreational drugs, halter tops, and other foreign vices formally proscribed by Islamic law. (When expats extol Dubai's unique "openness," it is this freedom to carouse -- not to organize unions or publish critical opinions -- that they are usually praising.)

On the other hand, Dubai, together with its emirate neighbors, has achieved the state of the art in the disenfranchisement of labor. Trade unions, strikes, and agitators are illegal, and 99% of the private-sector workforce are easily deportable non-citizens. Indeed, the deep thinkers at the American Enterprise and Cato institutes must salivate when they contemplate the system of classes and entitlements in Dubai.

At the top of the social pyramid, of course, are the al-Maktoums and their cousins who own every lucrative grain of sand in the sheikhdom. Next, the native 15% percent of the population -- whose uniform of privilege is the traditional white dishdash -- constitutes a leisure class whose obedience to the dynasty is subsidized by income transfers, free education, and government jobs. A step below, are the pampered mercenaries: 150,000-or-so British ex-pats, along with other European, Lebanese, and Indian managers and professionals, who take full advantage of their air-conditioned affluence and two-months of overseas leave every summer.

However, South Asian contract laborers, legally bound to a single employer and subject to totalitarian social controls, make up the great mass of the population. Dubai lifestyles are attended by vast numbers of Filipina, Sri Lankan, and Indian maids, while the building boom is carried on the shoulders of an army of poorly paid Pakistanis and Indians working twelve-hour shifts, six and half days a week, in the blast-furnace desert heat.

Dubai, like its neighbors, flouts ILO labor regulations and refuses to adopt the international Migrant Workers Convention. Human Rights Watch in 2003 accused the Emirates of building prosperity on "forced labor." Indeed, as the British Independent recently emphasized in an expos? on Dubai, "The labour market closely resembles the old indentured labour system brought to Dubai by its former colonial master, the British."

"Like their impoverished forefathers," the paper continued, "today's Asian workers are forced to sign themselves into virtual slavery for years when they arrive in the United Arab Emirates. Their rights disappear at the airport where recruitment agents confiscate their passports and visas to control them"

In addition to being super-exploited, Dubai's helots are also expected to be generally invisible. The bleak work camps on the city's outskirts, where laborers are crowded six, eight, even twelve to a room, are not part of the official tourist image of a city of luxury without slums or poverty. In a recent visit, even the United Arab Emirate's Minister of Labor was reported to be profoundly shocked by the squalid, almost unbearable conditions in a remote work camp maintained by a large construction contractor. Yet when the laborers attempted to form a union to win back pay and improve living conditions, they were promptly arrested.

Paradise, however, has even darker corners than the indentured-labor camps. The Russian girls at the elegant hotel bar are but the glamorous facade of a sinister sex trade built on kidnapping, slavery, and sadistic violence. Dubai -- any of the hipper guidebooks will advise -- is the "Bangkok of the Middle East," populated with thousands of Russian, Armenian, Indian, and Iranian prostitutes controlled by various transnational gangs and mafias. (The city, conveniently, is also a world center for money laundering, with an estimated 10% of real estate changing hands in cash-only transactions.)

Sheikh Mo and his thoroughly modern regime, of course, disavow any connection to this burgeoning red-light industry, although insiders know that the whores are essential to keeping all those five-star hotels full of European and Arab businessmen. But the Sheikh himself has been personally linked to Dubai's most scandalous vice: child slavery.

Camel racing is a local passion in the Emirates, and in June 2004, Anti-Slavery International released photos of pre-school-age child jockeys in Dubai. HBO Real Sports simultaneously reported that the jockeys, "some as young as three -- are kidnapped or sold into slavery, starved, beaten and raped." Some of the tiny jockeys were shown at a Dubai camel track owned by the al-Maktoums.

The Lexington Herald-Leader -- a newspaper in Kentucky, where Sheikh Mo has two large thoroughbred farms -- confirmed parts of the HBO story in an interview with a local blacksmith who had worked for the crown prince in Dubai. He reported seeing "little bitty kids" as young as four astride racing camels. Camel trainers claim that the children's shrieks of terror spur the animals to a faster effort.

Sheikh Mo, who fancies himself a prophet of modernization, likes to impress visitors with clever proverbs and heavy aphorisms. A favorite: "Anyone who does not attempt to change the future will stay a captive of the past."

Yet the future that he is building in Dubai -- to the applause of billionaires and transnational corporations everywhere -- looks like nothing so much as a nightmare of the past: Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby.

Copyright Mike Davis

Note: the author in some cases uses a shortened form of the Sheikh's name ("Mo" for Mohammed). This is generally offensive to a lot of Muslims, but I'm not going to edit Davis' words. He is a well-respected academic, especially known for his work on urbanism.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Xavier_Onassis

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2007, 12:41:21 PM »
Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby.

==========================================
A great choice of words. I bet Sirs would find Dubai a paradise, unless he came as a contract worker from Pakistan, of course.
"Time flies like an arrow; fruit flies like a banana."

Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2008, 07:22:37 AM »
Interesting article. I've never heard these allegations and complaints before, but I'm curious to know more.


Note: the author in some cases uses a shortened form of the Sheikh's name ("Mo" for Mohammed). This is generally offensive to a lot of Muslims, but I'm not going to edit Davis' words. He is a well-respected academic, especially known for his work on urbanism.

I disagree that using the nickname "Mo" is offensive for Muslims. "Mo" as well as "Hammad" are common nicknames for Muslims named Mohammed.

Michael Tee

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2008, 07:54:20 AM »
<<I disagree that using the nickname "Mo" is offensive for Muslims. "Mo" as well as "Hammad" are common nicknames for Muslims named Mohammed.>>

Our neighbour's kid is Mohammed and he tells me to call him Mo.  Same as the kid who bagged our leaves last fall.

Lanya

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2008, 03:36:45 PM »
The artificial islands seem to be really something. The last word (at least for now) in gated communities. Posh Spice and Beckham have bought one, as well as some Hollywood couple but I can't remember who. 
How different a life they must lead, to feel that this is a great choice for them!  They must crave privacy and be willing to pay $$$$ for it.
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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #5 on: January 01, 2008, 06:38:39 PM »
I don't really want to get hung up on the one part, but thanks Henny and Mike for the info. I was always told not to shorten the name of Mohammed.

Like XO, I especially like this quote: "Yet the future that he is building in Dubai -- to the applause of billionaires and transnational corporations everywhere -- looks like nothing so much as a nightmare of the past: Walt Disney meets Albert Speer on the shores of Araby."

It is truly a testament to conspicuous consumption. Make no mistake though, many cities in the Third World are experiencing rapidly growing slums. Interestingly, they are growing despite the fact that most of the cities are experiencing de-industrialization, recession, and job loss.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

Michael Tee

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #6 on: January 01, 2008, 06:45:05 PM »
<<I don't really want to get hung up on the one part, but thanks Henny and Mike for the info. I was always told not to shorten the name of Mohammed.>>

It's still the default rule.  I wouldn't shorten anybody's name unless they asked me to.

Henny

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2008, 09:02:06 AM »
On the other hand, Dubai, together with its emirate neighbors, has achieved the state of the art in the disenfranchisement of labor. Trade unions, strikes, and agitators are illegal, and 99% of the private-sector workforce are easily deportable non-citizens. Indeed, the deep thinkers at the American Enterprise and Cato institutes must salivate when they contemplate the system of classes and entitlements in Dubai.

At the top of the social pyramid, of course, are the al-Maktoums and their cousins who own every lucrative grain of sand in the sheikhdom. Next, the native 15% percent of the population -- whose uniform of privilege is the traditional white dishdash -- constitutes a leisure class whose obedience to the dynasty is subsidized by income transfers, free education, and government jobs. A step below, are the pampered mercenaries: 150,000-or-so British ex-pats, along with other European, Lebanese, and Indian managers and professionals, who take full advantage of their air-conditioned affluence and two-months of overseas leave every summer.

However, South Asian contract laborers, legally bound to a single employer and subject to totalitarian social controls, make up the great mass of the population. Dubai lifestyles are attended by vast numbers of Filipina, Sri Lankan, and Indian maids, while the building boom is carried on the shoulders of an army of poorly paid Pakistanis and Indians working twelve-hour shifts, six and half days a week, in the blast-furnace desert heat.

Dubai, like its neighbors, flouts ILO labor regulations and refuses to adopt the international Migrant Workers Convention. Human Rights Watch in 2003 accused the Emirates of building prosperity on "forced labor." Indeed, as the British Independent recently emphasized in an expos? on Dubai, "The labour market closely resembles the old indentured labour system brought to Dubai by its former colonial master, the British."

"Like their impoverished forefathers," the paper continued, "today's Asian workers are forced to sign themselves into virtual slavery for years when they arrive in the United Arab Emirates. Their rights disappear at the airport where recruitment agents confiscate their passports and visas to control them"

In addition to being super-exploited, Dubai's helots are also expected to be generally invisible. The bleak work camps on the city's outskirts, where laborers are crowded six, eight, even twelve to a room, are not part of the official tourist image of a city of luxury without slums or poverty. In a recent visit, even the United Arab Emirate's Minister of Labor was reported to be profoundly shocked by the squalid, almost unbearable conditions in a remote work camp maintained by a large construction contractor. Yet when the laborers attempted to form a union to win back pay and improve living conditions, they were promptly arrested.

A little bit late, but I've been doing some thinking about this. Indian, Sri Lankan and Philipino labor is extremely common in the Middle East. We have a Sri Lankan maid, for example.

They come by choice and there are joint agreements between their countries and the country they go to work in - in fact, a special visa system and a contract for the term of their employment. The contracts are usually 2 years and the employee and employer can choose to extend it at the end of the term, or the worker can go home. While we people scream "disenfranchisement," these people are often making their life fortunes in their brief contract tenure due to the value of the foreign currency at home. They are given a place to live and food, and all the money they make is theirs to take home with them - no other expenses. Last, they are represented by the agency that makes their contract with the employer - any complaints can be taken back to the agency to be dealt with (by either party involved).

Camel racing is a local passion in the Emirates, and in June 2004, Anti-Slavery International released photos of pre-school-age child jockeys in Dubai. HBO Real Sports simultaneously reported that the jockeys, "some as young as three -- are kidnapped or sold into slavery, starved, beaten and raped." Some of the tiny jockeys were shown at a Dubai camel track owned by the al-Maktoums.

The Lexington Herald-Leader -- a newspaper in Kentucky, where Sheikh Mo has two large thoroughbred farms -- confirmed parts of the HBO story in an interview with a local blacksmith who had worked for the crown prince in Dubai. He reported seeing "little bitty kids" as young as four astride racing camels. Camel trainers claim that the children's shrieks of terror spur the animals to a faster effort.

I looked into this, and this practice ended about the same time as the HBO documentary came out. They now use robotic "camel jockeys." (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robot_jockey)

hnumpah

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2008, 10:06:51 AM »
Quote
They come by choice and there are joint agreements between their countries and the country they go to work in - in fact, a special visa system and a contract for the term of their employment. The contracts are usually 2 years and the employee and employer can choose to extend it at the end of the term, or the worker can go home. While we people scream "disenfranchisement," these people are often making their life fortunes in their brief contract tenure due to the value of the foreign currency at home. They are given a place to live and food, and all the money they make is theirs to take home with them - no other expenses. Last, they are represented by the agency that makes their contract with the employer - any complaints can be taken back to the agency to be dealt with (by either party involved).

I got to know quite a few of the contract employees in Saudi Arabia when I was there - Filipinos, Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis and so on, as well as those of us from more industrialized countries. Yes, even those of us from the US, Britain, France, Germany, and so on were there under contract. By and large, all of them were happy to be there, mainly because it provided an opportunity to make a very good salary. There were sacrifices that had to made due to Saudi law, and I'm sure most of us missed our families, friends, social life and whatnot back in (fill inthe blank), but everyone dealt with it in order to earn the salaries that made it all worthwhile. Now, most of the folks from the industrialized countries were there for technical jobs, and most of the folks from the other countries were there for non-skilled jobs, so naturally we didn't all get paid the same. Still, everyone I talked to was glad to be making what they were making for the simple fact that it beat the hell out of what they could have made for the same job back home, if they could get a job back home.

An interesting fact is that the crime most often reported by the Riyadh and Jeddah papers was forgery - people forging their papers to extend their work visas.
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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2008, 11:44:49 AM »
High pay doesn't give license to provide substandard housing (read "slums") and to flout international labor laws by completely exploiting the workers.

Laborers were arrested for trying to form a union? Surely you cannot support that Henny & H?
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

hnumpah

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2008, 12:25:39 PM »
In the US, we don't allow labor unions in the military.

And I am not a big fan of labor unions to begin with.

For some of these people, what you would consider a slum is the lap of luxury, much better than what they might have at home. If they don't like it, no one forces them to sign the contract. If they don't like that the law does not allow them to form labor unions, they are free to stay home.
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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2008, 12:33:15 PM »
In the US, we don't allow labor unions in the military.

And I am not a big fan of labor unions to begin with.

For some of these people, what you would consider a slum is the lap of luxury, much better than what they might have at home. If they don't like it, no one forces them to sign the contract. If they don't like that the law does not allow them to form labor unions, they are free to stay home.

The United States is not a great example of Trade Union history.

I disagree vehemently with your logic. Simply because a worker comes from a destitute nation with terrible circumstances does not make it right to offer him or her contracts with piss poor working and living conditions. What I consider a slum, is in all actuality a slum. And you say they have a choice, but no, they really don't. Anyone who knows of the slums in Manilla, throughout India, Lahore & Karachi, and the land-grabbing capitalist aftermath of the Tsunami in countries like Sri Lanka will easily realise that they most certainly do not have a choice.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
   Tell me lies about Vietnam.

hnumpah

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2008, 12:46:11 PM »
Quote
Anyone who knows of the slums in Manilla, throughout India, Lahore & Karachi, and the land-grabbing capitalist aftermath of the Tsunami in countries like Sri Lanka will easily realise that they most certainly do not have a choice.


They most certainly do - they can stay home in the slums they come from, or they can go to one of the Gulf states, or elsewhere. They might end up in a slum there, but there is the chance they will make enough money that when they go home, they will be able to move out of the slums for good. That's a choice. It may not be a great one, but it sure as hell beats no choice at all. And last time I looked, we were talking about the contract workers in Dubai and the Gulf states.
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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2008, 01:13:48 PM »
Quote
Anyone who knows of the slums in Manilla, throughout India, Lahore & Karachi, and the land-grabbing capitalist aftermath of the Tsunami in countries like Sri Lanka will easily realise that they most certainly do not have a choice.


They most certainly do - they can stay home in the slums they come from, or they can go to one of the Gulf states, or elsewhere. They might end up in a slum there, but there is the chance they will make enough money that when they go home, they will be able to move out of the slums for good. That's a choice. It may not be a great one, but it sure as hell beats no choice at all. And last time I looked, we were talking about the contract workers in Dubai and the Gulf states.

It doesn't make exploitation of workers right. You may think so, but I do not. They should be free to form Trade Unions and have minimum standards for housing and labor rights.

We are talking about a Sheikh who lives in a massive palace, owns numerous Rolls-Royces, as well as a solid silver Audi. Yet, has poor workers arrested for attempting to form a union and refuses to adhere to minimum international labor laws.
I smell something burning, hope it's just my brains.
They're only dropping peppermints and daisy-chains
   So stuff my nose with garlic
   Coat my eyes with butter
   Fill my ears with silver
   Stick my legs in plaster
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hnumpah

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Re: Does the Road to the Future End at Dubai?
« Reply #14 on: January 03, 2008, 01:18:28 PM »
I don't necessarily think it's right, but - and this is a big one - it is the law in those countries, and no one forces anyone to go there.
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