The Plight of Southeast Asian Migrant Women in the Margins of Dubai’s Social and Economic Oil Based Structure

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How do the predominantly female South and Southeast Asian migrant workers, upon whom residents of oil-rich Dubai depend on for a significant portion of their domestic work, develop strategies to negotiate a labor environment that renders them quite marginal as guest workers with few legal and social rights? After having spent two years working in Dubai, UAE, this summer I will return for one month to investigate the above central question. I have examined the literature surrounding three basic questions to support my main thesis question. What elements construct Dubai as a (Global) city? What is the status of the various people groups that create Dubai’s unique city culture? How does life for the women migrant workers contrasts with women in the top economic echelon? The methods to gather my research will include participant observation, direct observation, interviews, documents, and archival records, as well as scholarly, secondary sources. My research of Dubai and the people living there will reveal what the circumstances are for the Southeast Asian women as they negotiate the structural forces of the city, and bring about a better understanding on how Dubai’s development model supports the marginalization of its laborers. Understanding these factors is the first step in informing future decisions for the city’s development.

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