The Middle East Saga

The Middle East Saga

Shalom Masango

Wall Street Journal

According to research, the UAE is the most densely migrant-populated country in the world. About 90% of the UAE’s 9 million people are foreign-born, most working on temporary employment contracts in a range of white-collar, blue-collar and service industry jobs. Only a handful of migrants have been granted citizenship since the country gained independence in 1971.

Stories of migrants getting exploited by their employers are endless. The governments and the United Nations do not turn the resolutions into practicability. Africans are the mostly exploited group of migrants as they are desperate to make a living and better their lives. 35 Ugandans who worked in United Arab Emirates committed suicide due to the frustration of unpaid wages and abuse.

Due to the Gulf ’s demand for migrant workers, there is need for labour in the construction, domestic work and hospitality sectors. Although countries have adopted the system of “locals first”, most businesses do not honour this practice due to falling prices of oil, leading to cheap labour being desirable.

People get lured mostly via the internet, and to refer to a story closer to home, a Zimbabwean mother Peggy with a desire to send her 3-year-old son to an elite school came across a website that was tempting and offered her better opportunities that made her dreams come true. She travelled to Kuwait, in pursuit of the said job, not knowing that she was surrendering her life as she handed in her phone and documentation on arrival to her prospective employers for “safe keeping”. She was forced to work for a Canadian family from 4am till midnight.

“We were not getting any salary as they told us that they had paid Zimbabwe-based agents to bring us there and they wanted to recover their money,” Peggy said.

After refusing to work due to no salary, she was forced to be a sex slave so that she could pay back for the airfare that was used to bring her to Kuwait.

As the current governments have clearly failed to resolve these issues, it is up to our generation to create new paths to protect the most vulnerable amongst us.

“Migrants are an asset to every country where they bring their labour. Let us give them the dignity they deserve as human beings and the respect they deserve as workers.” Juan Somavia



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