The "Invisible Men" Seen Naked
There's outrage in the Gulf over naked workers walking in public view. The Secret Dubai Diary says, "accompanied by what must be the least effectively pixellated photo in the history of digital imaging, Gulf News reports that a Dubai labour camp has become "a virtual nudist colony" due to the summer heat."
One commenter at the Gulf News site writes:
I don't think most people who are commenting on this article realize what type of harsh conditions these labourers work in. They are not fed well, they share there accommodation with a minimum of ten other people in a cramped room with barely any comfort. Most people who live in Dubai are living in a bubble of wealth driving their Ferraris and Porsches and living in grand style with there executive salaries. I used to work as a consultant for a major contractor that helped develop some prime real estate in the Dubai Marina area; I have seen what type of abuse these labourers go through daily. They barely get fed a proper meal twice daily if they are lucky and work under the sun for a minimum of ten hours at least six days a week. If they are lucky they make maybe around three hundred dollars a month. If they are walking around naked they are doing so at the labour camps which are 100 per cent filled with expat labourers comprised of mostly Bangladeshi, Indian and Pakistani men who pay a lot of money to come to Dubai only to find cheated and have no choice to work to pay off their debt to the scamming recruiting agencies. People in the UAE need to wake up and have a look around at what is really going on in there country.
While the immigration debate in the US focuses on whether illegal aliens should be allowed to send their children to school and avail of social services, the plight of the vast torrent of expatriate workers from poor countries in the Middle East is virtually ignored. They are today's invisible men. Some reckon that expatriates make up half the entire labor force of Saudi Arabia. While some expatriates, typically those with American or Western passports, make up the highly paid upper tier of the labor force and live in splendid conditions, at the lower end workers live exactly as Saleem described them. Its a world of hidden from view where the inhabitants must make shift as best they can. They even worship in secret. Parts of the Vicariate of Arabia -- perhaps millions of Christians -- must survive in a virtual underground church in a place where no religion but Islam is allowed.
And in some ways, people like Saleem are far more outspoken in their criticism of the system than so-called humanitarians in the West, who will provide every legal courtesy to suspects in Guantanamo Bay, but remain indifferent, if not ignorant of men who must work stripped down to their skin in order to remit a pittance back to their families at home.
They are the invisible men, but unlike the character of Wells, only excite attention when they're not wearing clothes.