The Dark Side of Dubai

Dubai may be one of the most famous places on the planet, but it does have a dark side; a side that nobody likes to hear about.

We all hear of stories from Dubai that seem to lack any humanity and seem a clear violation of human rights. And there’s no doubt that things like this do go on. Around 85% of people in Dubai are not born and bred Emiratis; merely expats, many of which are indeed from the Western World, so what they know as “human rights” may not be what they encounter when they begin working in this glitzy part of the UAE…


Many people are quite rightly outraged by the tendency for Dubai to employ labourers from countries such as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh, to build office towers and hotels. These workers are told to sign contracts of up to 8 years and their passports are confiscated. Clearly, the confiscating of passports is illegal, but the government doesn’t do anything about it. You see, part of the deal is that these workers come from poverty in slums of Bangladesh for example, and are hopeful that a “steady job” and a “roof over their head” will be enough to survive. However, the rent for their accommodation (cramped portable homes with highly unsanitary conditions) is taken immediately from the wages, leaving them with virtually nothing with which to buy food and clothing.

When the workers pluck up the courage to strike, they are jailed, as protesting is illegal in Dubai (and I see this is the one law that is enforced!). These poor workers from the Sub-Continent will never be able to save up enough to buy a ticket home – and besides they don’t have their passports so they cannot leave anyway! So the next time you come to Dubai and spend £400 per night in a luxury hotel on the Palm, try to imagine how it was built and by whom…


There are traffic cameras everywhere, yet when I am travelling around the city by taxi, I rarely see any policeman. People here in Dubai drive like morons! It seems that as far as the government is concerned, it’s perfectly acceptable to zigzag haphazardly inbetween lanes under the influence of shisha(!), knowing full well that no policeman are there to see it, but speeding even just a couple of kilometres over the speed limit will get you fined. It’s madness! These speed cameras are placed strategically as you come down over the crest of a hill, just as the speed limit changes, so before you actually have the chance to adjust to the new limit, you have been fined already! Stringent laws mean that failure to pay the speeding will result in at least your vehicle being impounded, and possibly some prison time.

And I haven’t even mentioned the crazy driving standards here. Well I have, but I need to mention them again. I have even seen young teenagers on the roads in Dubai, and I have heard stories from neighbouring countries such as Saudi Arabia where minors are regularly given the keys to cars and are allowed to drive down the main roads. Thus, potential Hell ensues. If the Government actually cared about the driving standards – and safety – of its citizens on the roads, then it would not try to catch them out by putting hidden speed cameras at the foot of hills, and instead employ more police on the roadside to tackle dangerous driving when they see it.


Another thing I want to get off my chest is yet another case of Dubai’s double standards. It is quite well-known that European and American women are stared at in Dubai, especially if they are single businesswomen or solo travellers. Unwanted attention can and does occur. One of the reasons this may be is because of the huge prostitution problem in Dubai. The emirate is full of them, and I don’t know if they are fishing for clientele among the expats or among the local population, but whatever, some of the hotels in which I have stayed close to the old parts of the city (Deira, Al Rigga, etc.) are simply nothing more than just brothels, and I didn’t feel safe walking around that area in the evening.

Due to the internet censorship in Dubai, we are not allowed to look at any pornography as this is illegal, yet we can rent a hotel room and pay for sex as often as we want. Dubai after dark is indeed very scary.


9 thoughts on “The Dark Side of Dubai

  1. Interesting post. I’ve read about the mass exploitation of South Asian construction workers but I didn’t know about the prostitution. In general, it’s not a place I care much about and I’m glad these abuses are more well-known.


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