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Behind the Headlines: APA News Blog

Academic Version: Applying my personal experiences and academic research as a professor of Sociology and Asian American Studies to provide a more complete understanding of political, economic, and cultural issues and current events related to American race relations, and Asia/Asian America in particular.

Plain English: Trying to put my Ph.D. to good use.

April 9, 2006

Written by C.N.

Asian Workers in the Middle East

For many Asian workers, their dream of a new and prosperous life do not lie in the U.S., but instead, in the oil-rich countries of the Middle East, such as the United Arab Emirates. But similar to what many migrant workers to the U.S. eventually learn, the reality is sometimes much different from their idealistic hopes:

When hundreds of workers angered by low salaries and mistreatment rioted Tuesday night at the site of what is to become the world’s tallest skyscraper, not only were they expressing the growing frustration of Asian migrants here, they offered a glimpse of an increasingly organized labor force.

Far from the high-rise towers and luxury hotels emblematic of Dubai, the workers turning this swath of desert into a modern metropolis live in a Dickensian world of cramped labor camps, low pay and increasing desperation . . . . often paying thousands of dollars to unscrupulous recruiters for the chance to work at one of the hundreds of construction sites in the emirates. . . .

Denial of wages is the most common abuse of workers, as contracting companies typically wait to pay their workers until they themselves get paid. In the worst cases, workers have been denied wages for more than 10 months, only to lose the entire salary when the contracting companies go bankrupt, leaving the men destitute and with few options.

Unfortunately this is another example of one of the drawbacks of globalization. Just like in the U.S., a demand for cheap labor leads many desperate workers to take desperate measures in order to make a better life for themselves, only to find exploitation and inhuman working and living conditions in the process.

Whether it’s migrant farm workers in the U.S., garment workers in Guam and Saipan, or Asian construction workers in the UAE, wherever there is capitalism and globalization, there is also sure to be exploitation and misery as well. Thankfully, as the article describes, many of these workers are fighting back and standing up for their rights and their humanity.

The struggle between humanity and capitalism continues to rage . . .

Author Citation

Copyright © 2001- by C.N. Le. Some rights reserved. Creative Commons License

Suggested reference: Le, C.N. . "Asian Workers in the Middle East" Asian-Nation: The Landscape of Asian America. <> ().

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