45°C – Modern Slaves of Dubai

“Higher, greater, more luxurious. If it was after Sheik Muhammad bin Rashid al Maktoum – and it is – Dubai will become the world metropolis of architectural wonders and records. This is only possible to achieve with the sweat of a gigantic labour army from abroad. Hundredthousands of these foreign workers labour on the constructionsites for very low vages, live pent-up in tiny barracks and seperate from their families for many years.”

This is a photographic documentary, made by photographer Florian Büttner, is about the everyday-life of the men with the unity-coloured overalls. The men outside the lap of luxury, who exist in the shadows of the skyscrapers.

“They have been the cheapest on the market and the ones most driven to abandon their rights to make a living. Circumstances made them to what they are in my eyes. Modern slaves. Not taken by force like in the old days, but forced by their lives in the arms of the highest bidder for human resources. From roughly 1 million people living in Dubai, around 800.000 are or were foreign workers. This is a new dimension in the history of foreign labours and shows one aspect of globalisation.”

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The workers are waiting for the bus to bring them back to the camp after a hard day of work in the heat of Dubai.


This man waters the imported palm trees in front of Burj Dubai construction site. Every day, all year long.


Sheik Zayed Road, the main traffic vein through new Dubai, is beeing expandet to 10 lanes.


Habil comes from Pakistan, he doesnt know yet how long he will stay. He dreams of buying a house and a car, once he gets back home.


There is not much space for individuality.


The nearly finished Palm Jumeirah in 2007.


Where there is over 50.000 Dollar-millionaires among 200.000 locals, the average income of a construction worker is 180 Dollars a month.


Which they built for years, will be closed for them as soon as the workers are done.


The Burj Dubai in 2007. 3 Years later, it becomes the highest building in the World, with over 800 Meters.


On they day off, thousands of workers stream towards the Dubai Creek and to the Old Dubai to shop, call home and transfer money.


The rising of Dubai Downtown in 2007.


The bus that brings the men back to their camp. Outside of Dubai at the edge of the Desert.


Dubai is dominated by red and white.


If one building is done, the next one is allready started.


Most of the men I talked to feel alien in this city. They call Dubai the city without soul.


Advertising worlds at Downtown. The rulers know how to stage themselves.


End of workday at Dubai Marina.


G.S. Rajans thoughts are often back home. In the last 12 years he only got to see his family 5 times. Though their exinstance depends on Rajans work.


The bus that was ment to pick them up an hour ago is stuck in traffic, like every day.


Burj Dubai at night, driving on Sheik Zayed Road.


These Pakistani men sit down for a dinner after a day on construction site. They share one small apartment with 12 people.


The city is covered in big advertising banners, which look like pure ironie next to the workers lifes.


Assaia comes from Afghanistan and works as a mechanic in a truck repair-shop. The Container in the background is his home he shares with 6 men.


The sight of Dubais skyline from the Emirates Highway.

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