Our Unsung Heroes

Posted on June 8, 2008


Dubai is a great city.
It’s new, it’s hip and it’s got a cultural mush of more than 185 nationalities. The roads are clean and the buildings are tall. Life is good and everyone is happy.

But behind every clean street and architectural marvel are the little-known, little-acknowledged people responsible for it being there. They work long hours in 45degree temperatures to build structures they’ll never be allowed to enter once they’re finished. They clean the streets they’ll never be able to afford to drive through, and they’re housed in jail-like labour camps waiting for their meagre pay..always late.

To the not-so-fortunate in South/South-East Asia, the stories they hear about Dubai make it seem like the light at the end of that methaphoric tunnel; their saving grace. Work opportunities seem promising and there are plenty of benefits to be reaped. Enough money can be made to send home to the family and to tend to oneself as well.

So they bid farewell to their wives and kiss their children good-bye, leving behind the promise of a better future.
But as soon as their feet touch the sands of this promised land, reality hits. 12 of them are herded like cattle into accomadations meant to house 5 to a room, and are informed that work starts the next day. The hours are painstakingly long and the rising mercury makes them seem even longer. Some collapse and are rushed to the hospital, only to be proclaimed fine for work the next day.

They want to leave but they can’t. They work their way up in debt and have nothing to show for their families back home. They watch the happy middle class and envy the snub of the wealthy. Frustration seeps in.

They can’t go home for shame, and denial steps aside to give way to the fact that they will never be able to pay back the money they owe. So they climb to the topmost floor of the builiding they’re shaping..and jump.
Others have a better solution. They say their prayers and cross the deadliest of highways..hoping that their blood money will be sent back home to the family members they left behind.

This is the real story behind Dubai. The beckoning city of many an opportunity; the so called ‘Pearl of the MiddleEast’.
So remember these troopers when you complain of the heat from the comfort of your living room. Remember these heroes when you drive by renowned structures of the likes of The Burj Al Arab or The Palm. For they are our unsung heroes..and that’s the most heroic kind.