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  • Writer's pictureDetained in Dubai

Sanjit Pruthi trapped in UAE

Can’t work. Can’t leave. Relying on charity for food and shelter: The foreigners trapped in Dubai

Sanjit Pruthi paid 80,000 Rupees (£760) in November 2023 to an agency in his native India called Al Shayan.


Pruthi, 27, paid the huge sum because he was promised a job as a computer technician in a Dubai supermarket for a company called Al Adil.


The job paid AED 1200 a month (£258) which compared favourably with Sanjit’s earning potential in his hometown of Mumbai. However when he arrived, Sanjit was told that he would not be doing the job promised, but would be cleaning toilets, loading and unloading tricks, and other general labour. The young Indian refused. “I am an IT specialist and that is my career path,” explains Sanjit. “I didn’t leave home and pay all that money to come here and clean toilets.”


Al Adil refused to give Sanjit his passport back or cancel his visa. Eventually he was able to bribe a member of the Al Adil HR department to give him back his passport. But his troubles were far from over.


Al Adil filed a police case against me for allegedly breaking the terms of my visa,” says the good natured Sanjit. “And now I am not allowed to work in Dubai, nor am I allowed to leave the country. Luckily it is Ramadan and I am surviving on the free meals given out by various charities. Plus my family at home sends what little money they can, which allows me to share a room with seven other people in Karama (a part of the city populated by low income workers). I have no idea how I will live once the charity and my family’s money runs out.”


Unlike Western countries, the UAE has no minimum wage. Companies can get away with paying the absolute minimum wages required to persuade someone to leave their home country. For Westerners, this can be high wages of many thousands of pounds a month. For the Sanjit Pruthis of this world, it can be a couple of hundred pounds.

This creates a society of “haves” and “have nots”. It has allowed the economy to burgeon, but at the expense of human dignity.


The huge discrepancy in wages is reflected in the way people are treated. With those at the bottom living cramped, miserable lives and treated as merchandise.


“The country has been likened to a slave society,” confirms Radha Stirling, CEO of humanitarian group Detained in Dubai. “No Westerner would think it acceptable to advertise a job in IT, but then tell the candidate they were going to be cleaning toilets when they arrived.


“Sachin left his family and home country for this opportunity. Now he is faced with financial ruin, homelessness and starvation. And according to the Dubai legal system, there is nothing wrong with his situation.”


It is not only labourers and low income residents who risk being trapped in the desert state.

“Anyone who falls foul of the law is given a travel ban until the case is settled,” continues Stirling. “It doesn’t matter what the offence is, if there is a fine involved the person is forbidden to leave the country or to work once their visa runs out. If the victim can’t pay the fine, it doesn’t matter. They have to stay, relying on charity or until theoretically they starve to death.


“We have spoken to many thousands of Westerners since Detained In Dubai’s inception in 2008 who are trapped in this way. Many of them over unpayable debts.”

 

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