Improving Human Rights in Dubai

Dubai-Politics

Dr. Mohammed al-Roken in his Dubai office

The last 4 days I was in Dubai – no, not in order to admire the construction of the Burj Dubai, soon to be the tallest buildig in the world, ski down the slopes of Ski Dubai or to sip cold beer with Marcus Vetter and Ismael Kathib from Cinema Jenin on the terraces of one of the numerous luxery hotels (although we did just that, as Marcus and Ismael are currently in Dubai to show The Heart of Jenin at the Dubai Film Festival. Btw: The audience loved it).

My purpose there was much more academic, but not less inspiring, as I was invited to attend a German-Arab media dialogue organised by the German Foreign Office about cultural globalisation. For two days 20+ intellectuals from the Arab and German speaking world discussed the changes societies go through in the current phase of globalisation and whether or not the development path Dubai has taken is (or should be) a model for the rest of the Arab world. 

Building Towers, Cheating Workers
Of course, I didn’t quite manage to restrain my project scouting activities for betterplace.org. Especially not, after Anja, back at the Berlin office, had identified a contact at Human Rights Watch and put me in touch with Hadi Ghaemi, the author of the report Building Towers, Cheating Workers. The report addresses the many problems of the up to 500.000 South Asian low-wage migrants labouring on the construction sites and staffing the service industries in Dubai.

Hadi, who by now has his own NGO based in New York - International Campaign for Human Rights in Iran, had recommended that I speak to Mohamad Al Roken, the – according to the Washington Post –  most prominent human rights lawyer in Dubai - about possible collaborations between betterplace.org and local Emirati NGOs. 

Lawyers on betterplace.org
From my point of view, the strengthening of legal practice in countries with non-democratic, totalitarian or paternalistic governments is one of the most important leverage for a better world. Many countries, such as the Peoples Republic of China or the United Arabic Emirates , have sound laws – in theory. But they are only rarely enforced, as citizens don’t know about their rights and vested political interests work against them. Thus I think it would make great sense to assemble a number of good legal projects on betterplace.org, which could be supported by (German) legal professionals, from law professors to judges or lawyers.

When I went to see Al Ruken in his office in the old part of Dubai, he confirmed, that there are no obvious NGOs for betterplace to work with in this area. There are very few NGOs in the UAE and the development of a civil society is still in its infancy. Yet, there are a number of possible collaborations which would make great sense according to al-Roken:

  • organize an exchange between the law department of a German university and a group of young lawyers from the UAE (this could be done in cooperation with the Jurists Association in the Emrirates).
  • sponsor the translation of Arabic written UAE law into English, in order to enable foreigners (making up 85% of the whole population in Dubai) to access laws relevant to them (such as residency laws, labour laws etc.)
  • sponsor lawyers from the UAE to take on more pro-bono cases for poor clients, for example in the realm of labour law.

With regards to the last point: there are a number of lawyers willing to represent poor migrant workers against their companies. These cases concern serious abuses of construction workers by employers, such as unpaid or extremely low wages, several years of indebtedness to recruitment agencies for fees that UAE law says only employers should pay, the withholding of employees’ passports, and hazardous working conditions that result in apparently high rates of death and injury.

The laws to deal with these cases are in place, yet, most migrants don’t have enough money to pay the necessary fees: one case costs between $1.500-2.000 and lawyers can only take on a limited number of pro-bono cases without jeopardizing their own economic survival. So, how about if Dubai lawyers – selected by Mohammed al-Roken – start posting their clients cases on betterplace (such as, for example, Sol y Vida, does for medical cases) and german lawyers provide the legal fees?

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17 Responses to “Improving Human Rights in Dubai”


  1. 1 sara habash January 23, 2009 at 7:44 pm

    Human rights its such a very important and big issue shell we work hard for it specailly in our arab community

  2. 2 Dubaibunny May 14, 2009 at 7:56 am

    Why the media publish a lot about Dharfur and Myanmar? Come to UAE, you can see racism and slavery in broad daylight. Blatant rights violation can be felt everywhere. Shopping malls, barber shops, can you believe it ? Not to say about the night clubs. If you are a south asian, try to walk into a barbar shop or night club mostly visited by arab speaking people.You will be insulted and sure to get a bruised ego. Try it and believe it.

    • 3 loi July 29, 2010 at 9:03 am

      dear friend,
      it looks like you are blaming arabs for not giving you the chance to get in to bars or coffee shops
      strange,why dont you blame your masters first who dont even give you visa to visit london,just being in dubai on visa,dont you think that those arab are kind enough to give chance and hope to have a quality life.
      if you realy feel uncomfortable in uae,please man,just leave,try to go back to your country or get a visa to uk(if you can).
      regards
      arab speaking man.

  3. 4 sara habash May 14, 2009 at 4:51 pm

    ya ur 100% right
    but its the role of NGOes to work in such phonemena not only goverments I beleive alot in NGOs role and advocay to work in zs sectors coz NGOS are civilian people sometime so the accessabilty for change is easier ,but sure they need the support of goverments

  4. 5 joanne nachi May 21, 2009 at 9:08 am

    they will never sell properties in dubai,considering there isnt human right,i am a niece of a very important political person and 4 years ago at the airport immigration officer hold me for 4 days,16 people interrogating me ,just because of 2 different passport and too many countries visited.I now want to sue the immigration,the immigration guy from shri lanka,they have to learn education and treat people good,i am a very prominent person,not a dishonest,learn lessons you stupid people from dubai

  5. 6 muhammad sarmad June 18, 2009 at 6:34 am

    i am muhammad sarmad a media coordinator of pakistan international human rights organization, i will coming to dubai on visit, kindly request that plz email me some of inernational human rights offices address in dubai so there for i meet with him,

    thanks

    muhammad sarmad
    media coordinator pihro pakistan
    +92-332-9228441

  6. 7 Abdullah June 25, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    i want to marry a girl and she also want to marry me but her family is creating problem. Her family surround her in the room and forcing her to marry with another boy i am in U.A.E can i contact u? in U.A.E please send me u r U.A.E contact number on my Email wahab_a29@yahoo.com

  7. 8 chandru August 6, 2009 at 10:24 am

    hi there,
    my name is chandru and work in my fathers company which is 1 of the oldest money exchange offices in the uae.recently i applied for uk visas for me, my wife and 2 lovely children.the purpose was not tourism it was for education for the children in uk.it got refused for the 1st time bcoz of grounds i dint urgue on.and the 2nd time they approved childrens visa and refused the parents visa which i feel is totally against humanity and i also feel the grounds are baseless.there is no logic on their terms and conditions.it is more like a business unit for refusing it for the first time,second time approving it for children and parents would definitely apply again.i am sorry for using these words but they are out of their senses,i am more upset and would like to know if there is anyone to sort this issue or i should keep my mouth shut and let them have a third application cost and wait for their insanity.there has to be done on this issue bcoz we defintely here a lot of human rights from their part of the world and here they might be just not worried of.
    my no is 050 6561906
    my children will travel by hook or by crook,may be alone,but not fair,they are just 6 and 9.lets see……….inshahallah

  8. 9 chandru August 10, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    this blog is no good…no1 replies or even concerned.its a waist of time.thanks for so calles human rights or even a better place org.get back to work is my advice to anyone who is not interested in waisting time

  9. 10 analiza barrientos September 28, 2009 at 7:28 am

    Dear Sir,

    I would like to ask your help or assitance to my filipina friend virginia cabalosa ferrer case number 30025-2008 (muraqqabat police station) which has been detain in al awir central jail dubai. For 2 types of cases first case is drug user which has given a judgement of one year which she finish in the muraqabbat police station and second case is drug transporter which has given a judgement of 25 years. She is guilty for the first case the drug user but not the second case which is the drug transporter. But this is not the only problem she has been hospitalized in and out while spending time for a year in muraqqabat police station for hemorage and her blood have been detected to have hepatitis B. I just want your kindly help for humanitary reason due to her health problem that is becoming worse everyday that if she can go back home in the philippines immediately so she can spend her time back with her family.

    Looking forward for your quick reply,

    Analiza Barrientos
    Dubai, UAE

  10. 11 Nancy Santos January 26, 2010 at 8:54 am

    Hi! Ms. Barrientos this is Nancy Santos can you please coordinate us… this is my e-mail ad nancysantos27@yahoo.com.. my mobile nos. 09162283434… God Bless!~!!

  11. 12 SUMAIRA December 29, 2010 at 9:48 pm

    I want to come Dubai, how can I come to Dubai in order to rescue from dificult atmosphere at here in Pakistan.please guid me.

    Translation of urdu news paper “Daily JINNAH” جناح روز نامہ
    28 october 2010

    The veneration of Eve`s daughter had being razed

    “Conservator of prestigiousness became enemy”

    In the Sialkot, To get love marriage Sumaira and Naseer are being threatened

    .Now a days, most of our society has so much fallen to the limitation of humanity that the society of fifteen hundred years ago has given baffle too.Now a days in our country infinite innocent girls are becoming victims of physical,sexual and mental violence from their own relatives and criminal people.The thing worth sorry,These girls are persecutioned from their own relatives.But often such that the local police does backing the professional criminals instead to provide Justice these girls.
    Such is the grief story of Sumaira resident of Rae Pur police station Saddar Sialkot.The night of 14 september 2009 Sumaira left the house of her parents with her own will and went to house of her paternal aunt Farhat (Hammon Gakhar).In order that she can survived because of her parents forced her to marry against her wishes due to their own ego and contingent interest.While Sumaira wanted to marry with Naseer Ahmad of her own village.After when she gone to paternal aunt`s home,Taking advantage of her absence her parents registered F-I-R U/S 365-B crPC against Naseer Ahmad.And bringing her from her paternal aunt`s house,placed her in other paternal uncle Jeera who is addicted to drugs and Aslam of (Hammon Gakhar) tie her in the house and fustigate her with the baton.And spurred by the violence that she will be explained to the police that was kidnapped.Jeera put gun in her mouth to kept harassing her.However in order to rescue,Sumaira accepted to the Jeera and recorded false statement.Based on that false statement Naseer Ahmad went tToday, most of our society has so much fallen to the limitation of humanity that the society of fifteen hundred years ago has given baffle too.Now a days in our country infinite innocent girls are becoming victims of physical,sexual and mental violence from their own relatives and criminal people.The thing worth sorry,These girls are persecutioned from their own relatives.But often such that the local police does backing o jail and Jeera sold his daughter in law Sumaira to Mohsin,Javed and Anwer of Moonger village.When Sumaira was gone to Moonger then she came to know that she had sold to criminals Mohsin (etc.)by her uncle Jeera.She protested but in vien.No anyone had listened Sumaira`s sigh and wail.Put to Sumaira in captivity there and she was played evil game every night in the Moonger.After spending fifteen days in the Moonger in severe torture,A night in october she had been able to escape from Moonger.She reached an other village to decide distance three kilometers hiding in darkness of night.As early in the morning, women of that village gave her shoes and blanket,And at the behest of Sumaira two youngmen left her (on a motercycle) house of her third paternal aunt Mussarat.Sumaira went there in the hope that “this paternal aunt Mussarat will help her”,But paternal aunt had been intention evil,And aunt Mussarat put her incarceration.Son of paternal aunt Summer Ashique involved in keeping Sumaira in the private prison.Including Sumaira`s parents anyone unaware of the fact that Sumaira was in the custody of Mussarat and Summer Ashique.Sumaira was being razed by Summer Ashique for four months,And she had addicted to filled opium smoking by Summer Ashique.
    Finally after four months once again Sumaira had been successful in getting rid of.She went home of her parents, Where infelicitously again Jeera and other relatives aaclaimed her.In this time Naseer`s court trail was going on,Which Sumaira wanted to get married.Finally Sumaira left her parent`s house and got marriage with Naseer Ahmad.Sumaira had recorded again her statement in the court of Sardar Ahmad Khan Maiken with her free will.The court acquitted Naseer Ahmad cum laud.But unfortunately the story did ot end here.Sumaira shows that now besides my parents and other relatives,relatives of my husband Naseer Ahmad also have become the enemy of our vitality.And my previous buyers of Moonger have started to give threats me that we will quickly catch you,break your legs,hanging up side down with power mushroom in front of the world will make a sign.Besides this when court ordered respect my husband acquitted,my family did not accept this decision and become our enemy which are include Muhammad Tayab,Tahir Ahmad and M.Ahmad Awan of Rae Pur Sialkot.To get opportunity they will kill us.So we are forced to change our where-abouts.We are being humiliated ad degraded.My husband can not work independently.Due to evil threats of those felonry our live is forbidden.I appeal to Chief Justice that pay me and my husband`s live security be assured.and take action against those who tortured me and to help us organizations of international human rights protection.Respecable readers! criminal mynas in our country are making the society fistula,openly.And authorities while also demonstrating insensitivity,instead of providing justice to victims,have engaged in backing of criminals.We have fallen to this level even the animals have left behind.Society and human dignity are raping wire to wire displace.And fom teir facultative, power blackmailing and bully are stop to truth and justice.Acquirement of moment for the nation`s conducive worry.

  12. 13 SUMAIRA December 29, 2010 at 9:52 pm

    I am Sumaira from PAKSTAN
    contact me 00923076118992
    Translation of urdu news paper “Daily JINNAH” جناح روز نامہ
    28 october 2010

    The veneration of Eve`s daughter had being razed

    “Conservator of prestigiousness became enemy”

    In the Sialkot, To get love marriage Sumaira and Naseer are being threatened

    .Now a days, most of our society has so much fallen to the limitation of humanity that the society of fifteen hundred years ago has given baffle too.Now a days in our country infinite innocent girls are becoming victims of physical,sexual and mental violence from their own relatives and criminal people.The thing worth sorry,These girls are persecutioned from their own relatives.But often such that the local police does backing the professional criminals instead to provide Justice these girls.
    Such is the grief story of Sumaira resident of Rae Pur police station Saddar Sialkot.The night of 14 september 2009 Sumaira left the house of her parents with her own will and went to house of her paternal aunt Farhat (Hammon Gakhar).In order that she can survived because of her parents forced her to marry against her wishes due to their own ego and contingent interest.While Sumaira wanted to marry with Naseer Ahmad of her own village.After when she gone to paternal aunt`s home,Taking advantage of her absence her parents registered F-I-R U/S 365-B crPC against Naseer Ahmad.And bringing her from her paternal aunt`s house,placed her in other paternal uncle Jeera who is addicted to drugs and Aslam of (Hammon Gakhar) tie her in the house and fustigate her with the baton.And spurred by the violence that she will be explained to the police that was kidnapped.Jeera put gun in her mouth to kept harassing her.However in order to rescue,Sumaira accepted to the Jeera and recorded false statement.Based on that false statement Naseer Ahmad went tToday, most of our society has so much fallen to the limitation of humanity that the society of fifteen hundred years ago has given baffle too.Now a days in our country infinite innocent girls are becoming victims of physical,sexual and mental violence from their own relatives and criminal people.The thing worth sorry,These girls are persecutioned from their own relatives.But often such that the local police does backing o jail and Jeera sold his daughter in law Sumaira to Mohsin,Javed and Anwer of Moonger village.When Sumaira was gone to Moonger then she came to know that she had sold to criminals Mohsin (etc.)by her uncle Jeera.She protested but in vien.No anyone had listened Sumaira`s sigh and wail.Put to Sumaira in captivity there and she was played evil game every night in the Moonger.After spending fifteen days in the Moonger in severe torture,A night in october she had been able to escape from Moonger.She reached an other village to decide distance three kilometers hiding in darkness of night.As early in the morning, women of that village gave her shoes and blanket,And at the behest of Sumaira two youngmen left her (on a motercycle) house of her third paternal aunt Mussarat.Sumaira went there in the hope that “this paternal aunt Mussarat will help her”,But paternal aunt had been intention evil,And aunt Mussarat put her incarceration.Son of paternal aunt Summer Ashique involved in keeping Sumaira in the private prison.Including Sumaira`s parents anyone unaware of the fact that Sumaira was in the custody of Mussarat and Summer Ashique.Sumaira was being razed by Summer Ashique for four months,And she had addicted to filled opium smoking by Summer Ashique.
    Finally after four months once again Sumaira had been successful in getting rid of.She went home of her parents, Where infelicitously again Jeera and other relatives aaclaimed her.In this time Naseer`s court trail was going on,Which Sumaira wanted to get married.Finally Sumaira left her parent`s house and got marriage with Naseer Ahmad.Sumaira had recorded again her statement in the court of Sardar Ahmad Khan Maiken with her free will.The court acquitted Naseer Ahmad cum laud.But unfortunately the story did ot end here.Sumaira shows that now besides my parents and other relatives,relatives of my husband Naseer Ahmad also have become the enemy of our vitality.And my previous buyers of Moonger have started to give threats me that we will quickly catch you,break your legs,hanging up side down with power mushroom in front of the world will make a sign.Besides this when court ordered respect my husband acquitted,my family did not accept this decision and become our enemy which are include Muhammad Tayab,Tahir Ahmad and M.Ahmad Awan of Rae Pur Sialkot.To get opportunity they will kill us.So we are forced to change our where-abouts.We are being humiliated ad degraded.My husband can not work independently.Due to evil threats of those felonry our live is forbidden.I appeal to Chief Justice that pay me and my husband`s live security be assured.and take action against those who tortured me and to help us organizations of international human rights protection.Respecable readers! criminal mynas in our country are making the society fistula,openly.And authorities while also demonstrating insensitivity,instead of providing justice to victims,have engaged in backing of criminals.We have fallen to this level even the animals have left behind.Society and human dignity are raping wire to wire displace.And fom teir facultative, power blackmailing and bully are stop to truth and justice.Acquirement of moment for the nation`s conducive worry.

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