Brown People: Facts and Stats

Basic numbers

  • Only 11.6% of the population in the UAE is made up of national Emiratis; the remaining 88.4% is comprised of expats.
  • Of the expats, only 12. 8% of the population is “other” (Western).
  • This means that over 75% of the population is in the category of “Brown People”.
  • The top five countries of origin of these workers are, in order of the highest population, India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Egypt, and the Philippines.
  • In these countries, unemployment is high and wages are low; in many cases, the men cannot find jobs in their home countries.
  • The main employers are in retail, private homes (maids), construction, and transportation. The workers at school fall into the private homes category.
  • The majority of Brown People are men, with a ratio of 6 to 1, men to women, as the only work available for women is domestic, or, in the case of nationals from the Philippines, retail.
  • These Brown People make up 90% of the work force. Yes, 90%.

The UAE offers opportunities for immigrants to work and make money that they can then send home to help support their families.

But wait. Their salaries range from 100 to 300 US dollars per month. Yes, you read that correctly: 100 – 300 US dollars each month. Out of that salary, they pay their living expenses. Maids receive housing with the families they work for, so they do not have housing rental or utility bills, but they also have the lowest salaries of all Brown People. Most brown men (construction and transportation workers) live in single rooms where they rent a bed: 8-12 men are packed into a single room. These workers pay for their own work uniforms, cell phones and internet, toiletries, food, and any other personal items. They send money home when they can, but clearly, it isn’t very much.

Other notes

  • On construction sites, there are “camps” where the men live. The buildings that house them are temporary structures. After the workers buy their own beds, bedding, cooking tools, food, etc., often on loans from their employers, they are financially indebted for months, even years. The camps do not have hot water, and in many cases, electricity is either nonexistent or sporadic. At one camp near where I live, there are 7,000 men living in a 1.5 square kilometer space.
  • Most Emirati homes have a “maid’s room” which is only slightly bigger than a king-sized bed. Most families have a minimum of 2 maids; many have more. All maids live in the “maid’s room”.
  • Employers often do not provide any kind of health insurance. Brown People have to beg for financial assistance if they have to undergo any medical procedures.
  • Although labor laws exist that should protect the workers, the truth is that Brown People either do not know the laws, are afraid of their employer, or know that in the case of complaint, they will ultimately not be protected, and most likely, their jobs will be terminated.

Brown People are essentially the property of their employers

  • Employers take their passports and return them only if/when permission is given them to travel home.
  • They cannot take personal time off to rest, travel, enjoy an outing with friends, etc.
  • “Loans” are repaid by withholding a portion of the salary, but that means that basic needs cannot be met, so the employee takes out more loans and the cycle never ends.
  • When families sponsor a maid, she is at the disposal of her employer 24 hours a day, every day of the week.

Exhaustion: Brown People work, eat, sleep. Period.

  • Work days are 12 or more hours per day.
  • The work week is 7 days.
  • Time off is rare; in many cases, never.
  • Domestic workers are on duty 24 hours a day.
  • Workers do not have their own means of transportation.

Note: for personal stories, see my next post: Brown People Stories

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