A high concentration of high net worth individuals

Ever wondered where in the world you might find “a high concentration of high net worth individuals”?

Well, if you read Al Arabiya, you’ll know: It’s the United Arab Emirates, with its luxurious night clubs, where according to one satisfied club manager it is not unusual to have “an average of two tables per month spend between $55,555.6 to $128,888.9 in one night, and we expect this trend to continue into the New Year, with one customer already having spent just under $111,111.1.”

So the article concludes: “UAE is among the countries that have a high concentration of high net worth individuals.”

In the west, the best known emirates are Abu Dhabi and Dubai, which is widely advertised as a dazzling tourist destination:

We invite you to begin your Dubai sightseeing with Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world. The Burj Khalifa skyscraper is a world-class destination and the magnificent centerpiece of Downtown Dubai , Dubai’s new urban masterpiece.  The world’s tallest building is surrounded by hotels , must-visit shopping destinations  and a world of entertainment options.

Check out the stunning sights at the Burj Khalifa website.

By now, it seems to be largely forgotten that all this was built by foreign workers who were exploited in ways that justified comparisons to slave labor:

They live in a slum called Sonapur, hidden in the dunes between Dubai and Sharjah. Without Sonapur, Dubai’s architectural bling, its spas and tax-free splendour probably wouldn’t exist. It’s a Middle Eastern Soweto, where as many as 500,000 foreign labourers — mostly illiterates from the impoverished rural villages of the subcontinent — that build Dubai are housed in some of the most depressing conditions I’ve witnessed. […]

Dubai’s economy expanded by 35% in 2006, and about 20% last year. It is impressive but it is not oil — that ran out decades ago. Dubai’s rags-to-riches miracle relies on an age-old business plan: slave labour. Millions of impoverished Sri Lankans, Indians, Pakistanis, Filipinos and Africans, working up to 80-hour-plus weeks, have built this gleaming oasis. With their passports seized as insurance, these bonded workers toil for about $US8 ($A9) a day. It is almost as if Dubai’s employers have scanned the world and zeroed in on the poorest 20 nations to staff their projects. Promised riches but paid salaries well below the poverty line, they’ve been found jobs by unscrupulous middlemen charitably described as “employment agencies” who wouldn’t have been out of place in 1780s Atlanta.

But there’s no need to worry about bad press – it will quickly be forgotten once you firmly establish your reputation as a fun playground for “a high concentration of high net worth individuals.”

 

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