Camel Jockeys in Dubai’s Sinister Paradise

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis, the election, and more, subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter.


dubai.jpg

From the BBC: A class-action lawsuit filed in the US accuses the ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum (and his brother and 500 other defendants), of enslaving thousands of young children from Bangladesh, Sudan and southern Asia and putting them to work as camel jockeys.

Mike Davis had a great piece a while ago on the “sinister paradise” that is Dubai. The Persian Gulf city state boasts a jelly-fish shaped underwater hotel, the world’s largest mall, a 24-square-mile archipelago of coral-colored islands in the shape of an almost finished puzzle of the world, high-rise resorts, thousands of mansions, a dinosaur theme park–you get the idea.

As Davis noted, under the “enlightened despotism” of its Sheikh, Dubai also boasts, if that’s the right word, labor laws skewed very much to the advantage of Capital.

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.”

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest