Labour camp at centre of BBC row to close in 2 months

EXCLUSIVE: Manager of camp reveals plan to move to new site near Arabian Ranches.
Labour camp at centre of BBC row to close in 2 months
CAMP LIFE: A labourer on cleaning duty at the Nad al Sheba camp in Dubai. (ITP Images)
By Tom Arnold
Thu 16 Apr 2009 03:25 PM

The Dubai labour camp at the centre of a undercover BBC documentary will be shut down within two months, its manager said on Thursday.

The 6,000 workers based at Nad al Sheba, the largest camp operated by Arabtec Construction, would be moved to a new camp near Arabian Ranches, Tariq Salar told Arabian Business.

Secret cameras from the Panorama programme filmed overflowing raw sewage leaking through the camp.

In the documentary, screened in the UK last week, one worker complained the toilets were so filthy they were unusable and about garbage and water blocking the roads around the camp.

Since the unauthorised visit by the film crew, security had been tightened up, camp security officer Richard Robertson, told Arabian Business.

During a tour of the camp with our reporter on Thursday, he said extra measures had been implemented at the three entry points to the camp following the breach which, he said, took place shortly after he had clocked off duty.

Robertson said it was not possible for anyone without permission to enter the camp, which is surrounded by a high metal fence.

He admitted a lot of sewage was around the camp at the time of the BBC visit.

A new manhole had been dug to store the sewage in the last three months as the previous one offered insufficient capacity, Robertson said.

During our visit, a worker was in the process of cleaning the toilets but our reporter said that flies were a problem in the toilet area.

Salar said the camp was a temporary camp while Arabtec Construction, the largest listed contractor in the UAE, completed work on building the nearby Dubai racecourse.

Meydan Group in January terminated Arabtec's $1.3bn joint contract with Malaysia’s WCT Bhd to build the racecourse in Dubai, citing delays to delivery of the scheme ahead of its opening for the Dubai World Cup horse race in 2010.

Salar said the new camp was currently being built.

In a strong response to the findings of the programme last week, Arabtec CEO Riad Kamal accused Panorama of being unfair in its reporting of the living and working conditions of workers.

“They have been very unfair not only to Arabtec but to Dubai,” he added.

Arabtec, one of the largest contractors in the UAE which employs a total of 62,000 people, has more than 20 camps in Dubai and Abu Dhabi which Kamal claimed were cleaned daily.

To read Tom Arnold's blog from his tour of Arabtec labour camps, click here.

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