United Arab Emirates. 2013. Dubai. © Jonas Bendiksen, Magnum
At the Ritz Carlton 5 star luxury hotel in Jumeirah, Alex from Ghana is the “Pool Ambassador”, at noontime serving juice drinks around the pool, clad in a smoking and tophat. He has been in Dubai for about 3 months
This story explores the world of guest workers in the arab Gulf oil states such as United Arab Emirates, Qatar and Kuwait. While marketing itself as a luxury playgrounds of tourism and business, close to 90% of UAE and Qatar’s population are foreign workers. Most of these workers come from far poorer nations such as India, Bangladesh, Philippines and Nepal, and the workers often endure very difficult employment and living conditions. Oftentimes parents will leave their home country for a decade or more to try to build up savings for their family back home, putting a big strain on family relations.
The World Bank estimates that yearly sum of remittances (the money being sent home by foreign guest workers) amounts to more than double all official foreign aid globally.