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In The Shadow Of Dubai's Skyscrapers


The Arab Emirate of Dubai is famous for its wealth, tourism, and booming growth. Here, the base of the recently completed Burj Khalifa -- the world's tallest building -- is seen behind a luxury resort, surrounded by construction sites. Photos by Abbas Atilay of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service
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The Arab Emirate of Dubai is famous for its wealth, tourism, and booming growth. Here, the base of the recently completed Burj Khalifa -- the world's tallest building -- is seen behind a luxury resort, surrounded by construction sites.

Photos by Abbas Atilay of RFE/RL's Azerbaijani Service

But the construction boom rests on the labor of people who are invisible to the wider public: low-paid migrant workers living in dire conditions.
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But the construction boom rests on the labor of people who are invisible to the wider public: low-paid migrant workers living in dire conditions.

In the neighborhood of Deira, some 20 Pakistani workers share a 22-square-meter room, for which they each pay $55 a month.
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In the neighborhood of Deira, some 20 Pakistani workers share a 22-square-meter room, for which they each pay $55 a month.

Other workers have been squeezed out of their rooms by overcrowding and sleep on the roofs of their buildings.
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Other workers have been squeezed out of their rooms by overcrowding and sleep on the roofs of their buildings.

A man folds a blanket after a night on the roof.
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A man folds a blanket after a night on the roof.

Workers rest after a hard day. Thousands of immigrants, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, live in the Deira district.
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Workers rest after a hard day. Thousands of immigrants, mainly from Pakistan and Bangladesh, live in the Deira district.

Rajao, an immigrant from Bangladesh, works on the construction of a new skyscraper. He has no permanent residence and sleeps at the building site.
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Rajao, an immigrant from Bangladesh, works on the construction of a new skyscraper. He has no permanent residence and sleeps at the building site.

Men carry heavy equipment on a Dubai street.
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Men carry heavy equipment on a Dubai street.

The average salary for migrant workers is between $300 and $500 a month -- barely enough to make ends meet.
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The average salary for migrant workers is between $300 and $500 a month -- barely enough to make ends meet.

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A worker holds prayer beads near a mosque.
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A worker holds prayer beads near a mosque.

Others make due with their cramped quarters when it's time for prayer.
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Others make due with their cramped quarters when it's time for prayer.

Migrant workers share an evening meal in their temporary home.
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Migrant workers share an evening meal in their temporary home.

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