Behind The Glass Towers

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Behind The Glass Towers

Tara Zadeh, Journalist

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A mere three decades ago, the illustrious city, Dubai, was nothing more than a desert. The discovery of oil reserves in 1966 triggered the building of the city, that has come to be the home of the world’s tallest building, and one of the top metropolitan destinations globally. Today, Dubai is characterized by modern architecture and a booming economy. However, the building of the city came at a cost. Behind the beautifully built towers is the mistreatment of thousands of migrant workers, who made possible the construction of the city that is so prominent today.

About 90 percent of the 3.1 million people living in Dubai are expats, or people who migrate in search of occupation in construction or service. The primary incentive for these workers is the send money to their families in their home countries. The salaries and number of job opportunities in developed cities like Dubai are much higher than those of the origin countries of expats. However, the treatment and conditions of these workers have long been subject to reporting. Often times, these workers are forced extensive work period of 12 hours or more. In addition, the large corporations that hire these workers take possession of the passports and paychecks of the workers,, as a way to ensure their employment. For these corporations expats are beneficial and necessary because of reduced salaries.

Migrant workers often work through recruitment agencies, who create a facade of the work conditions and salaries. So, many of those who make the extensive journey to cities like Dubai are promised things that they certainly do not receive. In addition, many migrant workers are in debt to their employers due to the arrangement fees necessary to travel to Dubai. “There is a huge dependence on migrant workers who have employment terms that are no different than indentured servitude,” Sarah Leah Whitson, the director of the Middle East and North Africa division of Human Rights Watch. The beauty of a city like Dubai masks the hardships that were endured to make the city what it is.