Philip Holt

Photographer
   
Dubai Workers
Location: New York
Nationality: Anglo-Francais
Biography: Philip Holt is an award-winning commercial photographer based in New York, with an international presence. Born in Lisbon, Portugal to a French mother and British father, he was raised in Milan and educated in London, Paris... MORE
Public Story
Dubai Workers
Copyright Philip Holt 2024
Date of Work Oct 2012 - Ongoing
Updated Dec 2019
Topics Documentary, Editorial, Photography, Photojournalism, Portraiture
50 cent an hour

Dubai that took my breath away !

Dubai, one of the richest cities in the world with some of the poorest people in the world.
The phenomenal spurt of growth of Dubai, is in itself a world wonder. The luxury resorts, designer boutiques,the tallest building in the world and of course lets not forget ‘The Palm’, an island in the shape of a palm leaf made out of reclaimed sand that can be seen by satellite 20000 miles up in space. What more can one man do to prove he has the biggest dick ! Drive around in Dubai in a white G wagon with the number plate ‘1’.

Like everybody I was very impressed with Dubai, but from my experience I knew when things look to good, there is usually a a darker side. As they say there is no free lunch. It didn’t take me long to see the thousands of laborers at work in the sweltering heat on construction sites. 24/7. At first I thought about the cost of employing this vast amount of work force 24/7, then I wondered where they lived, as they were no where to be seen.

I started to document them, but was denied access to the worksites. A close friend managed to get me into their Barracks which I can only describe as a court yard surrounded by three floors of rooms over looking into it, resembling the layout of most jails.

The first time my legs shook was when I saw the twin towers going down. The unimaginable, had happened. The second time was when I walked into a room 12X12 with 12 workers sitting on their bunks smiling. I thought to myself,” this can’t be real”.

Overcome by emotions I started documenting the people in the room. So this was Dubai’s dirty little secret ! Everyday thousands of workers are shuttled back and forth from construction sites to barracks way out of view from the public eye.

Most of the work force is from India. They are promised good fair wages, through work Agent’s who charge them $ 2500 ( to be deducted from their future salary). The reality is once in Dubai they have their passport taken, are shoved into cramped quarters, made to work 12 hours days in extreme temperatures, paid 50 cents an hour.

When you look at these portraits you cannot escape the pain every single human being is going through, the eyes say it all.
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