Thursday, March 30, 2006

AN371/771 Political Anthropology

AN371/771 Political Anthropology: "It is the fastest growing city on earth, a landscape of building sites full of workers feverishly constructing the highest, the largest and the deepest in the world. It's a neverland, rising out of the barren desert and fringed by beaches and a ski resort. There are no taxes. And it is the favoured destination of Britons wishing to work and play abroad.
Fifty per cent of the world's supply of cranes are now at work in Dubai on projects worth $100bn - twice the World Bank's estimated cost of reconstructing Iraq and double the total foreign investment in China, the word's third-largest economy.
But there is also a downside to the glistening towers that soar above the shopping malls, the six-lane highways and the world's only seven-star hotel with suites that can cost $50,000 (?28,000) a night. More than 2,500 workers at the site of the world's tallest building, the $800m Burj Dubai, went on strike last week in a country where striking - and unions - are illegal. It is the latest manifestation of the deep discontent felt by the semi-indentured labourers from the Indian subcontinent who are building this glitzy oasis. Complaining of unpaid wages, and demanding better conditions, the labourers marched out of the cramped, stifling dormitories where they are corralled 25 to a room in violent protests which caused $1m worth of damage. They overturned cars and smashed up offices in a very graphic reminder of a problem which normally receives little publicity."

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