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In the gulf November 2, 2007

Posted by Sharath Rao in geo-politics, rant.

Joy links to this article from the Times, a case of a French teenage boy raped by some natives and now the case getting complicated and in the process exposing (yet again !) the UAE authorities. The article has other gems such as “United Arab Emirates law does not recognize rape of males, only a crime called “forced homosexuality.”. The boy’s mother has started this website called – boycottdubai – where she says :

To all the Pakistani, Filipino, and Indian mothers who were expelled from Dubai to their countries of origin with their little children, wounded in their hearts, flesh and minds. This web site is open to all the mothers of the world united in the same Combat.

You know, there is such a thing called “resource curse” – and nowhere in the world is this more evident than the hell hole called ‘middle-east’ ( at least much of it !)

In many “ordinary” societies that are not resource-dependent, governments tax citizens, who demand efficient and responsive government in return. This bargain establishes a political relationship between rulers and subjects. In countries whose economies are dominated by natural resources, however, rulers don’t need to tax their citizens because they have a guaranteed source of income from natural resources. So this relationship between rulers and subjects breaks down. More insidiously, those benefiting from mineral resource wealth may perceive an effective and watchful civil service and civil society as a threat to the benefits that they enjoy, and they may take steps to thwart them. As a result, citizens are often poorly served by their rulers, and if the citizens complain, money from the natural resources enables governments to pay for armed forces to keep the citizens in check. Countries whose economies are dominated by resource extraction industries tend to be more repressive, corrupt and badly-managed.

Am sure there are many amongst us who will rise to defend things that happen there – judicial/legal systems, treatment of expatriates, other religious denominations and simply basic human rights. These are usually (and rightly) the favorite causes of the left and is it not then ironic that its the Indian left (or even the left in general – smart and mostly well intentioned – individuals not including politicians) that finds common cause with the rogues out there (while their children study in the Harvards and Oxbridges of the world). (my previous post explains this).

I actually feel bad for the many millions of Indians – mostly from Kerala/Karnataka – who have to go there to work because they are unable to find sufficiently remunerative options in India and who would otherwise not consider that an option. From an earlier NYTimes article

Plagued by chronic unemployment, more Keralites than ever work abroad, often at sun-scorched jobs in the Persian Gulf that pay about $1 an hour and keep them from their families for years. The cash flowing home now helps support nearly one Kerala resident in three. That has some local scholars rewriting the Kerala story: far from escaping capitalism, they say, this celebrated corner of the developing world is painfully dependent on it.

“Remittances from global capitalism are carrying the whole Kerala economy,” said S. Irudaya Rajan, a demographer at the Center for Development Studies, a local research group. “There would have been starvation deaths in Kerala if there had been no migration. The Kerala model is good to read about but not practically applicable to any part of the world, including Kerala.”

Actually but for the global economy powered by fossil fuels, most countries would rather let them just be – have an economic embargo and sit put ! (Tom Friedman gets it right once a while.). Geographical isolation (in place of Australia perhaps) would be an added bonus.

If this post was too much to take, you can perhaps stay on the topic but read something with a much lighter tone.



1. roohi - November 6, 2007

how many times have u been here sharath.. to the UAE, to the middle east or to the middle of anywhere around here eh.. bet u wudnt kno the capital of uae without googling fr it…:P
surely there must be somethin isnt it or is it simply the amreeci brainwash yeah..:)
kno wht dont answer this.

2. Sharath Rao - November 6, 2007

@Roohi :

Thats a fair argument, or is it ?

“how many times I have been…”. 🙂 . Zero.

I think diverse sources of information (even discounting american out – and certainly the NYTimes is not one among right wing conservative white supremacist) from people who have been there, from indian media (certainly the indian media is not anti-middle east), one can get an idea.

And its not like anybody in the government/royal families are trying to hide something either right …

Or lets just say – unlikely you will hear similar complaints on such a large scale from foreigner workers in other parts of the world – singapore ? Europe/US – systematic discrimination (and often implicit due to restrictions on worship n all) from the government, not a handful of bad apples which probably you find anywhere.

My rant is against the governments, not people in the UAE.

3. Joy - November 6, 2007

“And its not like anybody in the government/royal families are trying to hide something either right ”

Not unless you’re talking about the open yet illegal prostitution which is rampant there. 😉

Also, many/none of the international labor laws are applicable there. I’m not sure if not being a member of ILO has anything to do with this.

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