Tuesday, April 25, 2006

There's something fishy about the labour protests :: Op-ed in Gulf News

This morning I composed a lengthy rejoinder to this op-ed by Rashid Saleh Al Oraim, a UAE-based columnist for Al Ittihad newspaper, that Gulf News saw fit to publish. You, honored reader, will be spared the tedious details.

Here instead is what I have decided must be true, and necessary to communicate to you: The Gulf News elected to publish this op-ed to show that there exist members of the media who are in complete denial about the facts of the condition of labor in the UAE. Due to that denial they do not comprehend that the attention of the world on the condition of labor in the UAE is not an empty creation of the local and foreign press, but has substance. The remedy is in the hands of the UAE.

As I get back to making my reaction into a post, I see that over at the UAE community blog there has been a vigorous reaction to this op-ed by Rashid Saleh Al Oraim; the views expressed there echo mine. In large measure.

And see also Tim Newman's view of the op-ed at White Sun of the Desert. His writing today positively glows. Tim, I am envious.

Mr. Al Oraim, if I may make a point that has not been clearly made my colleagues out here in virtual reality: one looks small, very small indeed, when he makes claims that someone is "malicious". Very very small when one chooses not to name whom you believe is behaving maliciously. Do you not realize you have besmirched the entire UAE press core? Do you not realize that when you write in this style you utterly devastate your own credibility? Think about it.

Do I really think the Gulf News printed this op-ed to make a point that is opposite of the author's intent? Just look at this article GN published the same day nearby to the op-ed. And, likewise, this article headlined "Eliminate modern version version of slavery" (yes, I am aware the article is not about the UAE, at least not on the surface).

And yet, and yet. It is true, and not only in the unintended ironic way, what the author writes in his final sentence:

There is no country in the world that welcomes foreign workers the way the UAE does.

Workers are not dragged to the UAE unwillingly. They come here because there are opportunities for them and for many others. How many? So many that the citizens of the UAE constitute less that 20 percent of the population. Tell me a country that is more open to foreign workers. I don't think you can.

Is it peculiar that the UAE rarely grants citizenship? Yes. Is it understandable? Yes - few other countries are sitting on such much wealth that is not human created. Would you be willing to open the door of citizenship under circumstances like these, where the incentives for attracting unproductive gold diggers was so strong?

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Anonymous EclectEcon said...

In Canada, Alberta faces similar problems with its new-found oil wealth. The more lucrative the entitlements they create, the greater the incentives for free-loaders to migrate there.

4:08 AM  

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