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The "hidden victims" of recession in Dubai: migrant workers

On November 7, 2009

The Financial Times published a report earlier this week about the fate of illegal migrant workers in Dubai since the financial crisis started in late 2008. The story described the living conditions of these workers, who stay in overflowing and cockroach-ridden rooms, trying to save as much money as possible to send back home. Those workers often have to repay huge debts for the middleman who sold them work visas that allowed them to enter the UAE. According to a charity volunteer in the UAE, those workers pay between 10,000-12,000 dirhams ($2,700-$3,300) for the prized document.

Many of the workers who have lost their jobs due to the recession and subsequent slowdown in the construction business fear returning home without paying off their debt for the work visa; their families also expect them to return with money and gifts. Those workers, who lose their permission to stay in the country once they are fired, are left to search for temporary jobs while avoiding immigration authorities, until they can pay back their debt and return home.