Not only has the global financial crisis paralysed the never-ending construction in Dubai, but the city also had to face the uprisings of irregular migrants. In 2007, construction workers’ riots and strikes managed to bring the city to a standstill, protesting against precarious wages. As published in The Economist (Nov 1st 2007), the main solution did not aim better working environment, but it rather went through replacing the unsatisfied workforce by more docile individuals. If Indian workers found Dubai’s labour conditions unattractive, the city could always hire people from Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or Nepal. Even if the Government tried to guarantee that employers pay workers at least on time, it “also wants to keep the potentially restless immigrant workforce under control. It recently backed an initiative by Bahrain to limit the time that unskilled foreign labourers can work in any of the six member states of the Gulf Co-operation Council to six years, to prevent them from becoming too comfortable.“
In Reclaim Luxury Refuges, I already introduced the Charter of Dubai, an urban research project by SMAQ , consisting of a series of actions and visions towards spatial appropriation of interrupted housing projects. Some of the urban developments that tried to gain terrain to the desert are still frozen in time and subject to reuse. Thomas Kalak’s recent photography series [Dubai, 2011] from a helicopter provides a bird-view of the country’s current state of affairs: contemporary ruins generated by the hangover of Middle Eastern comfort.