Now, with this letter from a fellow Zoroastrian which clearly shows the harsh reality of Dubai and the huge inhumane and filthy mentality prevailing there, we have to open our eyes and take a stand for what is right and righteous.
Hereby, I, Mobed Kamran Jamshidi, declare my opposition for holding any Zoroastrian congress or event in this city and will sign this petition. It is up to every one of you Zoroastrians, worldwide to air your voice. I have done mine.
Mobed Kamran Jamshidi
Petition — Relocation of 9th World Zoroastrian Congress Dubai
I would like to share my story with you to show that what is happening in Dubai is surely and undoubtedly so vile, so manifestly an affront to our dearest Zoroastrian values and precepts, that one must ask: What in God’s name are we doing here?
My story will convey to you the grave injustices that have been meted out to me and my family and which completely ruined our lives, and I would like to remain anonymous, for fear of persecution and harassment from the Dubai Government Authorities, to my friends and colleagues, who continue to work there. Let me start from the beginning. I am a qualified construction engineer who was working for one of the most prominent engineering construction companies in Ahmedabad, responsible for generating project cost estimates and coordinating all aspects of planning, development, design and observation of construction and infrastructure projects.
However, like all of the Zoroastrians I knew, the moment I received an offer from one of Dubai’s leading engineering construction companies, to come on board as the Deputy Chief Engineer Construction for the numerous hotel construction projects underway, I was exuberantly happy at the thought of improving my prospects and status in life. After due consultation with my wife, family and friends, who were very supportive of me, I decided to accept the offer and my wife and I moved to Dubai, envisioning a bright and prosperous future ahead.
Unfortunately that dream soon diminished and our prospects of a good future were shattered. On my first day on the job, I was told by the other engineers in my construction team that human labour is the cheapest commodity in Dubai and that migrant workers are treated little better than cattle, with no access to healthcare and many other basic rights. At first I was sceptical and could not fathom how a construction company of this stature could ever be so disrespectful of basic human rights.
My work took me around the city and it was here that I saw at first-hand, the harsh reality that is Dubai and which is hidden from the rest of the world. The Dubai Government has always painted a rosy and glamorous picture of this city, which is far removed from the pain, agony and sorrow, etched into the faces of the thousands of migrant workers who have helped built this so-called “City of Dreams”.
Behind Dubai’s spiralling towers, man-made islands and mega-malls are hundreds of ghetto-like neighbourhood camps, hidden away from the eyes of tourists. These are areas around the Gulf set aside for an army of labourers, toiling and sweating in the hot sun at temperatures exceeding 45° Celsius, to build the icons of architecture and hotels that are patronised by tourists who are totally oblivious of the conditions under which these hotels are constructed. It was on the job visiting various construction sites that I saw the appalling conditions under which the workers operated. If we think that conditions in India are unsafe for construction labourers, I would call upon all who read my story, to witness first-hand the absolutely hazardous and unsafe conditions at numerous construction sites I worked on.
I was also witness to horrific accidents resulting in the deaths of many workers, due to the non-provision of adequate safety equipment, fatigue or heat exhaustion. Although the UAE does have federal labour laws, contractors who mistreat workers or withhold wages are rarely punished.
The nature of my job not only entailed the inspection of construction sites but also necessitated late night meetings with local investors, high-ranking Government officials, overseas clientele and arranging sex-workers to entertain them, in order to secure the necessary funding for the company’s numerous construction projects. This is where I was subject to the reality of Dubai’s human-trafficking and prostitution racket. This inexcusable trade in human flesh is a high-profile activity in a region which hosts Islam’s two holiest places — Mecca and Medina. We Indians readily accept the fact that India is not free from the clutches of human trafficking, the sex trade and child slavery, and that the Indian Government, despite undertaking several measures to root out this social menace readily acknowledges the problem our country faces.
The Dubai Authorities on the other hand, have turned a blind eye to prostitution and illegal trafficking based solely on greed, hypocrisy and corruption, to the extent that when the Dubai Police’s Criminal Investigation Department (CID) makes arrests, (at times) it is because they want to gang rape a particular woman. This is in a land where the legal system implemented by the Dubai Federal Judiciary is based on a very strict code of conduct known as Sharia law that imposes the death penalty for adultery and prostitution. This kind of hypocrisy and exploitation goes against all the tenets and teachings of our Zoroastrian religion and made me seriously reconsider my position.
During my three years in Dubai, I was witness and also subject to acts of racism, where people are strictly segregated and a hierarchy worthy of previous centuries prevails. At the top, dominating all other poor mortals, in their black or white robes, are the locals with their oil money. Under the locals come the western foreigners, the experts and advisers, making double the salaries they make back home, all tax free. Beneath them are the Arabs — Lebanese and Palestinians, Egyptians and Syrians. I realised that what unites these groups is a mixture of pretension and racism. We Indians come way below, at the bottom rung of this ladder, and it is indeed sad to see how many Indians, including Parsis, quietly accept and subject themselves to this inhuman treatment, all in the name of the money they worship.
The final straw on the camel’s back was when I decided to quit my job and move back to Ahmedabad as my wife was diagnosed as suffering from the worst form of Tuberculosis, a drug resistant strain of Pulmonary TB. I was told by my company that I needed to complete my three year contract before I could leave Dubai. It all started with Legionnaires’ disease, which she contracted from the hotel in which we were put up for a month, when we first came to Dubai. Legionnaires’ disease has become increasingly prevalent in hotels in Dubai, due to the high flow of traffic in all hotels, including five-star hotels, which cannot cope with this traffic and therefore, have absolutely low or even zero maintenance and disinfection procedures of air conditioning ducts, humidifiers, shower heads, and any piping in which water can lay.
The Legionnaires’ disease worsened and escalated to Pulmonary Tuberculosis. Because of the very nature of Pulmonary drug resistant TB, which is an often virulent infectious and contagious disease, my wife was refused permission by the Dubai Health Authority (DHA) to fly back to Ahmedabad, and was quarantined for six months in hospital in an isolation ward. My pleas of help and support to the Indian High Commission fell on deaf ears, as they too had no power to intervene with the DHA. I also contacted the Dubai-based Khaleej Times and Gulf News, to tell them my about my difficult situation and I was subsequently threatened with imprisonment by the Government, which controls and oversees each and every aspect of the press, enforcing media-related laws, censoring publications and even going so far as to appoint approved and vetted editors, who “toe-the Government-line”. Unlike in India, where we are so used to free and fair speech and freedom of the Press, my dear fellow Zoroastrians, that kind of freedom is absolutely unheard of and unimaginable in Dubai! Increasingly, my wife’s condition worsened, until finally, exactly a year to the date she contracted the disease in this land, my beloved wife and the love of my life passed away.
My aim in writing my story is to reveal to the Zoroastrian Community the true character and nature of the city of Dubai. We as a community who are supposed to practice the tenets of “Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds”, Humata, Hukhta, Huvarshta, should rise as one to prevail upon our religious leaders to relocate the 9th World Zoroastrian Congress Dubai 2009 from this city. I appeal to all members of the Mumbai Parsi Panchayat, FEZANA (Federation of Zoroastrian Associations of North America), World Zoroastrian Organization (WZO) and indeed all other Zoroastrian organisations and councils world-wide to unite as one, as it is not too late. The 9th World Zoroastrian Congress should not be held in Dubai, as this alone would serve as a wake-up call to the Dubai Government, that there is a small yet significant community in the world, which is aware and opposed to the atrocities being perpetrated in Dubai.
We should as a community, which is peace-loving and amiable assert ourselves, and stand up against what is happening in Dubai. The inhuman behaviour that is quietly overlooked by the world at large, all for the money being thrown around by the Dubai Government, is an affront to the human race and deserves complete censure and total condemnation from the world-wide community. This would also serve as a fitting mark of respect to my beloved wife, and finally help to put her soul at rest. May Ahura Maza guide all our future actions and grant wisdom unto all our community leaders to take the right path.
I would with humble humility request all fellow Zoroastrians to sign a petition, to relocate the 9th World Zoroastrian Congress Dubai 2009 from this city, by following the link below:
This petition will prove to the leaders of our community that we are honest and God-abiding Zoroastrians, who will stand and unite together to support a fellow Zoroastrian, who has finally had the courage to speak out against what is unacceptable in society and goes against all our Zoroastrian tenets, precepts and values.
With regards and be safe.