Middle East: Dubai financial city becomes ghost town

Arab summit sees nothing on offer for working people and poor

Dubai financial city becomes ghost town

No one knows the size of the losses facing the city of Dubai as a result of the current financial crisis, but what has been suppressed from becoming known is that many small businesses are closing and staff are being made redundant. Many large companies are cutting jobs and deliberately freezing many current and planned projects. Some of the work-returnees to Lebanon report that many people are leaving Dubai. The majority of workers are of foreign origin. The city now has less road traffic and restaurants and cafes.

The biggest losses concern the banks, followed by real estate companies and the media. Most immigrant workers in Dubai fear they might lose their jobs at any moment. The effects of the economic crisis will be also seen in home countries of the immigrant workers, as it is clear they will face rising unemployment, as we now see in Lebanon, India, Pakistan, and in other countries. Hundreds of thousands of workers risk losing their jobs and having to return bank loans, which mount up to substantial amounts of money.

Lebanon is not immune; Workers will pay the price

Some forecasts estimate that about 100,000 workers will return to Lebanon, and will join the unemployed who already account for about 30% of the working population. This would increase the pressure on local workers in Lebanon who would feel their jobs coming under threat if they do not work overtime and obey their employers. The economic situation in Lebanon is clearly hit by the economic downturn, even if Lebanonese banks are not suffering to the same degree as other countries, at the moment. In the near future, Lebanon will be affected by the international economic crisis because of the rise in unemployment in the Gulf States, and due to the effect of company bankruptcies and the deep crisis of interlinking national economies.

Arab summit

Some people may have hoped the recent Arab economic and social summit, held during the ongoing massacres in Gaza, would lead to some financial compensation for their plight. But these hopes soon turned into a realization of the complicity of the ruling elites in the region with the rule of capitalism. This was the first summit of its kind to come out with agreements that support the idea of the so-called ‘Development in the Arab Region’, which, in reality, is a coalition of major employers in the Arab world. Had it materialized, it would have simply been steps towards moving closer to having joint markets of the Arab economies – an implementation of the more than 50 year old resolutions. The resolutions passed at the recent summit were not in touch with the fundamental problems felt in Arab societies and in the economies, which are not only hit by the world economic crisis but which are also burdened by imperialism and the legacy of underdevelopment. The decisions taken by the summit, which only took “more than a year” to come up with!, only reiterated previous statements, to the point of boredom, at previous Arab summits, without addressing current economic, social or developmental issues!

No alternative for workers, unless workers build one!

Working people can see these regimes do not want to acknowledge that their corrupt and failing system sold oil to the major capitalist countries while depriving the masses of the profits. The same decrepit regimes linked their economies to the United States and supported wars that facilitate the implementation of neo-liberalism in the Arab world. In addition, any increase in the production of oil will mainly be for the benefit of major companies in the United States.

The great social challenges facing working and poor people cannot be confronted by economies that concentrate wealth while more than 70 million Arabs live in absolute poverty and on less than two dollars a day. There is an ever growing need for the working class, who produce the wealth, to change the foundations of this system and to get rid of capitalism, which is a failed system for the majority, and to make way for a real democratic system – for socialism.

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February 2009