Bahrain to Transfer Thousands of Migrant Workers to Segregated Areas

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Nov 16 2009

The first phase of construction of Bahrain's first "labor city" has been nearly completed, and the government will begin relocating workers there in January 2010, Khaleej Times reported today. The city, located in the confines of the Al Hidd industrial area will be able to accommodate 4,000 laborers in its 13 four of five story buildings (a quick calculation shows that about 70 laborers will be housed in each floor). In the second phase of construction 12 more buildings will be erected. Muharraq Municipal Council Chairman Mohammed Jassim Hamada said that similar cities will be built all across Bahrain. The construction follows legislation that passed in the Bahraini parliament in April 2007 that proposed removing bachelor migrant workers from Bahraini communities by housing them in segregated industrial areas.

Bahraini citizens have long complained about migrant workers living amongst them. Bahrainis living near labor camps claimed that the laborers posed danger to their children, that they were drunk, noisy, harass women and walk around naked. With the Bahraini population showing such clear animosity toward migrant workers, it is no wonder that this October the Bahraini government intensified its effort to remove bachelor workers from residential areas. The new procedures were designed to "preserve the privacy of residential areas" by limiting where migrant workers can live to designated labor camps.

Segregation between migrant laborers and the Bahraini society is motivated by a general sentiment of dislike of migrant workers who have helped build Bahrain. Those migrant workers ensure that the products Bahrainis consume are cheap, because their labor is cheap. They allow employers to overwork them and ask for little in return. Bahrain's government may think that it's beneficial to hide all those migrant workers and their horrible living condition away from the public eye, but hiding a problem won't help solve it.

Advancing the rights of migrant workers throughout the Middle East