Meet Zia

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Mar 28 2007

The View Point shares with us the following report, written and photographed by Mohamed Somji.

Meet Zia: he is from Pakistan and is working as a carpenter for a construction company in Dubai. He is one of several people that I met while shooting for the photojournalism workshop last August; I went to visit him and his roommates today and he was telling me about himself. He is married with two daughters: Hina, 4 and an 11-month old whom he has never seen and whose name he can't remember.

He has spent less than three years in total with his wife and children since he got married as he has been working in Dubai soon after (two years) his wedding. He tells me that he tries to block out thoughts of his family so he doesn't have to endure the pain of separation. His dream is to go back to Pakistan soon and start his own furniture business. His name is Zia.

This is where he lives. This is a brand new camp which started operating a few months ago. There are 1,200 laborers who live in this complex which has 150 rooms with an average of 8 to a room. There are two large kitchens, two sets of bathrooms and a prayer room within the complex. The rooms are mostly segregated by nationality; e.g. Pakistanis, Indians, Bangladeshis room together. I guess it makes sense so that dining, religious and cultural preferences are respected.

This is the scene at around 6pm in the evening when most of the workers are just returning from their work, queuing for the shower and then getting ready to prepare their dinner. It is a very lively time, teeming with people busy in each of their own tasks - I was also struck by how colorful it is with the bright uniforms which is what I tried to capture here.

The facilities and conditions of this building are one of the best I have seen in this area where tens of thousands of laborers live.

- More about the author at the View Point.

Now, if one building with 1,200 labor workers sharing 150 rooms, bathroom and kitchen facilities, is the best this author has seen in the area, then you can only imagine the conditions in which tens of thousands of the other laborers are living in.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East