In recent years, Dubai has reinvented itself as a bustling multicultural capital for education and business. A driving force behind this extreme makeover is the hundreds of thousands of unskilled South Asian workers – predominantly from India – who flock to the city every year. These blue-collar workers – whom Steve Raymer calls the “invisible foot soldiers of globalization” – are an exploited underclass with few rights. According to a recent study, the earnings of Indian workers overseas like these “foot soldiers” have financed part of India’s trade deficit since the 1970s. Back in India, this money is used to build new homes and schools across the country, while helping to reduce poverty in villages. Many Indian workers in the Gulf, however, worry about their future as they face increasing competition from other workers, often indigenous Arabs. Nonetheless, most seem reluctant to leave, acknowledging that the conditions in Dubai, despite discrimination and the lack of rights, are considerably better than those back home. – YaleGlobal



Dubai’s Kerala Connection

Hidden behind the Gulf State’s development are Indian “foot soldiers of globalization”
Foot soliders’ bunker: Invisible workers behind the glitz of Dubai catch a little rest before returning to work. (Photo: © 2005 Steve Raymer)

DUBAI: By all accounts Dubai, the most flamboyant of the seven states that make up the United Arab Emirates, has reinvented itself as one of the most globalized corners of the world, where education, a favorable business climate, and internet access count for more than geography. But unlike other success stories for enthusiasts of globalization, the important players giving Dubai an extreme makeover are largely hidden from public view in a land whose wealth now comes more from business and tourism than oil and natural gas. They are the invisible foot soldiers of globalization.

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