Shortly after my trip to Dubai, I watched a documentary about the human rights abuses guest workers are subjected to. Guest worker may be an inaccurate term to use – some of these workers are treated more like slaves than guests. Every country has issues with human rights – unless you’re Dick Chenney and don’t consider waterboarding to be a human rights abuse, then the US gets a free pass.
What angered me most was the despicable way these abuses were justified by the perpetrators.
“Their standards of cleanliness and hygiene are not up to your or our standards.”
“It is very difficult to change the habits that they unfortunately bring with them from their countries of origin.”
What’s ironic is when these Emiratis go to some of the western countries they’re so enamored with, they are looked down upon in the very same manner. They get put through an extra round of security at the airport and their traditional clothing are viewed as backwards rather than the status symbols they’re perceived as in their native land.
Guest workers fell to their deaths while building the world’s tallest building: Burj Khalifa. After a while, it became apparent that all of Dubai’s little victories were stained with blood.
Then there’s the Sheikh’s brother’s penchant for torture, and the UAE court’s penchant for disregarding video evidence when a prince is on trial.
It’s very easy to forget about these abuses when you’re in the city, but I don’t think I can admire any of its buildings knowing poor foreign workers died building them. Hell, I don’t think I can stay at one of their hotels, knowing it was constructed on slave labor.
What are your thoughts on traveling to countries with terrible human rights records? Is there any place you won’t visit as a result?
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