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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Dark Side of the Boom

- Pete from Gowanus, who probably has more hair growing out of his ears than I could ever hope to have on my head at this point, alerts us to a segment coming up on this Friday's 20/20 on ABC that's entitled "The Dark Side of Dubai." We get a preview on's The Blotter blog:

Dubai's building boom has been made possible by some 500,000 migrant construction workers, most from India, Pakistan and Bangladesh. Many work 12 hours a day, six days a week, in extremely hot temperatures that have led to illness and, in some cases, death. The workers live in crowded camps, with eight or more men sharing one small room.

In the Human Rights Watch report, called "Building Towers, Cheating Workers," researchers say that the average migrant worker receives a salary of about $175 a month. There is no minimum wage in Dubai, and some workers make as little as $8 a day.
Just last week -- only days before Human Rights Watch report was released but a decade after the building boom began -- Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid al Maktoum, ruler of Dubai, ordered stricter enforcement of the country's labor laws.
There's a lot more in the article, which you can read in its entirety here.

Now here's a wild guess: Ray Paulick will not be dispatching Steve Haskin to Dubai to do an investigative piece on this story. You think? I'd also guess that the ratings in the Lexington area will be poor. It will not be the first time that a TV network has done a disturbing report on the United Arab Emirates. Last year, HBO's Real Sports checked in with their expose of the abuse of child camel jockeys in the UAE. I've never read anything that directly connects the Ruling Family of Dubai to that nasty bit, as it was alleged in the lawsuit filed in Florida against them. But the U.S. State Department, in its 2006 Trafficking in Persons Report, noted that it was only in July, 2005 that the use of camel jockeys under 18 was banned in the UAE. The report goes on to suggest:
The U.A.E. should significantly increase prosecutions of all forms of trafficking, recognize forced labor as a form of trafficking even if the victim came to the U.A.E. willingly, and actively investigate trafficking for sexual and labor exploitation.
Yet these reports have gained about as much traction in the industry media as does Funny Cide on a sloppy racetrack. The events that have transpired since Andy Beyer's column came out makes it quite easy to understand why.

- Yonkers Raceway is finally set to open on Friday. Having added 500 more machines last weekend, the casino established new records for last week, having netted $4.2 million, $2.3 million of that slated for education.
Purses, which stood at $45,000 a night when the track closed last year, will increase to an average of $100,000 a night next week, said Joseph Faraldo, president of the Standardbred Owners Association, the group representing horse owners, drivers and trainers. [Journal News]


Green Mtn Punter said...

Alan, exactly right on this post in re Dubai and the Sheikhs. And, of course, as you point out, expect the Bluegrass Breeders to look the other way- never look a gift horse in the mouth, as the old saying goes. And I think that the U.S. racing community realizes this,i.e., that this Sheikh money is really tainted money that not only artificially inflates the bloodstock market but is money that belongs in the Dubai economy to improve the lives of it's citizens. I don't quite buy the Sheikh's rationale that horse racing and the tourism generated is the key to economic development for Dubai- it may be a component but it is putting too many eggs in one basket. That's why there was so little enthusiasm for Bernardini when you got right down to it. I agree with Andy Beyer- the super rich and other wealthy horse owners in this country have a much better perspective on the relative amounts of money to invest in the horse racing and breeding business. The satisfaction comes from breeding and/or racing a classic champion after a number of years of investment, in 10 years or less is considered a meteoric rise, and 20, 30 + years of "paying your dues" is probably more common. I have yet to hear a convincing argument as to why the Sheikhs big ticket buys are anything more than a short term bonanza for Bluegrass breeders.

aisha said...

Dubai is one of fastest growing economies in the world. In past 10 years Dubai changed a lot . I went to chris de burg concert last year and said I am completely shocked when I saw Dubai after 10 years. Right now buying Dubai property will be a very good investment at least till 2015.
After the Dubai freehold property law in 2002, where everyone can purchase a property, many investors were really happy to make a business here.