High hopes, low wages
Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Abrahm Lustgarten

(FORTUNE Magazine) - AS DUBAI REACHES FOR THE SKY with a building that, when completed in 2008, will be the tallest in the world, it is facing a revolt from the workers who have made the emirate's audacious development boom possible. In March, 2,500 laborers at the giant construction site that includes the $1 billion Burj Dubai tower (above)--most of them immigrants from India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh--showed up and refused to work. The protest quickly turned violent, resulting in an estimated $1 million in damage. Work on the tower, now 38 stories high, wasn't interrupted, says a spokesman for developer Emaar Properties. But the demonstration, along with a sit-down strike the same day at the site of a new airport terminal, was the largest in a series of protests over the past year. At issue is what human rights activists describe as indentured servitude. Dubai's one million immigrant laborers, about two-thirds of its population, are housed in company-owned dormitories, fed by their employers, and paid about $4 a day--not much for a city where a hotel room can cost $300 a night. Workers spend most of their wages repaying interest on the $3,000 they typically borrow to secure a work permit, says Hadi Ghaemi, a researcher at Human Rights Watch in New York City. A spokesman at the U.A.E. embassy in Washington, D.C., says his government has made an effort to resolve worker grievances but won't press employers to raise wages. Top of page

YOUR E-MAIL ALERTS
Follow the news that matters to you. Create your own alert to be notified on topics you're interested in.

Or, visit Popular Alerts for suggestions.
Manage alerts | What is this?
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.
Market indexes are shown in real time, except for the DJIA, which is delayed by two minutes. All times are ET. Disclaimer LIBOR Warning: Neither BBA Enterprises Limited, nor the BBA LIBOR Contributor Banks, nor Reuters, can be held liable for any irregularity or inaccuracy of BBA LIBOR. Disclaimer. Morningstar: © 2014 Morningstar, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Disclaimer The Dow Jones IndexesSM are proprietary to and distributed by Dow Jones & Company, Inc. and have been licensed for use. All content of the Dow Jones IndexesSM © 2014 is proprietary to Dow Jones & Company, Inc. Chicago Mercantile Association. The market data is the property of Chicago Mercantile Exchange Inc. and its licensors. All rights reserved. FactSet Research Systems Inc. 2014. All rights reserved. Most stock quote data provided by BATS.