Thursday, November 16, 2006

What Do Dubai and Brooklyn Have in Common?

We don't want to overstate this comparison, but 20/20 will run a segment on Friday on the "dark side" of the building boom in Dubai, which is the Middle Eastern bastion of wealth and architectural weirdness. We found this via a blog called Left at the Gate, which is about horse racing, but has some other interests too.

In any case, see if you can spot a passing similarity between Dubai and Brooklyn/New York City in the midst of the construction boom of the early 2000s:
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.
There is a lot more to the Dubai story and, again, we don't want go overboard, but the story calls to mind the recent attention to construction worker deaths in New York City.

We can't count the number of work sites we pass on Sunday mornings in Williamsburg and other neighborhoods where work is going on. We've watched these workers on their lunch breaks on Sundays on hot July days and wondered how many hours they work and the working conditions they tolerate. Sure, they don't live in work camps, but there are plenty of spots in Brooklyn or Queens where you can find them living in the same conditions.

Just a point worth making.


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