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UAE: First systematic survey documents migrant workers' experiences in hospitality & construction

"Working and Living Conditions of Low-Income Migrant Workers in the Hospitality and Construction Sectors in the United Arab Emirates", 2019

What are the actual living and working conditions of millions of low-income migrants in the country?... While anecdotal stories are plenty, no solid survey has been conducted so far to document practices detrimental to the migrants.

[Main survey findings]

  • Asked to evaluate their working conditions on a scale from 1 to 10, 35% of the migrants gave a score of 7 or more, 37% a score of 5 or 6, and 27%  a score of 4 or below.
  • Fifty-six of the interviewed migrants (88% females and 40% males) stated that they were charged unofficial money by brokers in their home country in order to obtain their job in Dubai.
  • 51% of the interviewed migrants (56% of the low-skilled and 41% of the mid-skilled) said that their salary is not adequate while only 10% said it is.
  • All the interviewed migrants in our survey were accommodated by their employers in camps or shared flats.
  • Knowing the actual conditions in the UAE, 40% of the interviewed migrants would definitely have come, only 9% would not have come, and 51% did not express a clear opinion.
  • The interviewed migrants said that in case of problems, no help is available to them.

The migrants’ main recommendations are:

  • Better implement the law
  • Institute labour inspections by the government
  • Provide for voting rights for representation in the camps
  • Appoint trained healthcare professionals in the camps
  • Assign health benefits or helath insurance for the workers