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Missing the point

Missing the point

Kipp is glad to see homeless people mentioned in the local media, but thinks we need to be clearer about their predicaments.

February 16, 2011 2:13 by

Dubai housing still unaffordable for many

Kipp read this article on The National a couple of days ago and the paper’s take on the entire affair had us bothered. We tried to brush it off, but it’s still on our minds a few days later.

The article focused on the homeless in Dubai. It reported that at least 100 men sleep in three parks in Bur Dubai and Sharjah, and that most of those who are homeless are blue collar workers who are illegally staying in the country long after their employers have stopped paying them. The article starts off with an introduction to Bheemashekar Myadari, who is an unemployed, homeless 22 year old. Myadari is an electrician who says he hasn’t been paid for four months and cannot get his passport back from his employer. He tries to make a few Dirhams during the day doing odd jobs, but is often unsuccessful. At night he retires to his bench in a park.

This article touches on a very real problem in Dubai. What bothers Kipp is the way in which they presented the issue. Despite rents being slashed, they tell us, ‘Dubai rents [are] still unaffordable for many’. As if these homeless would all be fine if only the rents were lower.

The presence of homeless in Dubai is not a legacy result of the high rents or of the recession (although it certainly did increase after the recession hit) but is a problem wrapped up with criminally low salaries, illegal immigrations and irresponsible (and sometimes callous) corporations, all of which exist irrespective of what rent prices do.

Kipp is glad to see a paper like The National focus on the subject (which is much needed break from the “Everything is perfect in the UAE” tune local press prefer to sing), but let’s do it right. Who was Myadari’s employer? Where is his passport? Where is his pay? These questions are more important than speculating as to the impact of rental prices on his situation.

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