Subscription Options

January 13, 2009

30 pieces of SIlver

When you first arrive in Dubai it literally takes your breath away. The phenomenal scale of it all, the speed which it has all come into existence, the imagination - all these shining towers, glistening projects and gigantic aspirations.

Truly admirable, truly inspiring and as I said, breathtaking.

Then you start to see a few cracks in the pavement, and you don't want to believe what is before your eyes.

The old guy walking around with those three young girls, they're his daughters of course.

The Indians and Philippines guys building this metropolis are of course well taken care of.

And plane load after plan load of young girls that are always in transit in the Dubai airports en route to Saudi Arabia will of course be treated respectfully and with suitable dignity.

You tell yourself this.

But there is a secret , and you know it. They aren't his daughters, they are his wives - and they probably had little choice in whether they would be married to him or not.

The Indians who build the place live in "labor camps" outside the city where nobody can see then. They work in slave like conditions, with their passports taken away from them, for a hand to mouth existence.

And the young women being trafficked into the region are about to go through a very long and painful experience, probably the worst period of their impoverished lives.

But the saddest thing is that we all sit there, above all of this, in the lap of luxury, taking our 30 pieces of silver and looking the other way. I did it, my friends and colleagues did it.

Chris O'Donnell the Australian heading up the slave trading Nakheel  construction group, Donald Trump investing in buildings built under slave like conditions, and Tiger Woods lending his name to help cover it all over.

And nobody says anything...even when the ruler  is implicated in slavery. Then after a while you find yourself saying "Well, if we didn't employ them as maids  (US$250 a month for an 8 - 10 hour day 6 days a week) then they would have no work"

And suddenly you become not only a spectator to misery, but part of the problem. Not me, not anymore - I couldn't continue with it.

A despicable, shameful and horrific culture - shame on George Bush and others for visiting there without saying anything.

I wanted to get that off my chest for many, many months. But you don't ask questions like that in environments based on distrust.