Allegations of worker exploitation at ‘world’s greatest show’ in Dubai

Allegations of worker exploitation at ‘world’s greatest show’ in Dubai

Security guards, cleaners and hospitality staff at Dubai’s Expo 2020 in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) are allegedly working in highly abusive conditions that may amount to forced labour, according to a human rights group.

Migrant workers employed at the international fair in the UAE – taking place now after being delayed by Covid – allege they have been forced to pay illegal recruitment fees, suffered racial discrimination and had wages withheld and passports confiscated, said the report by Equidem.

Dubbed the “world’s greatest show”, Expo 2020 hosts 192 national pavilions, showcasing the latest ideas in technology and sustainability. Organisers hope to see 25 million visitors during the course of the fair, which opened in October 2021 and runs to March 2022.

The event has attracted big corporate sponsors, global stars such as and social media influencers, with visitors promised the “next wave of human brilliance”.

But Equidem’s report highlighted the, “significant disconnect between the Emirate’s stated ambition of being a modern, international state and the reality of racial discrimination and forced labour practices that migrant workers are facing”.

It said the UAE’s alleged failure to protect migrant workers damages the reputation of countries and companies taking part in the event.

Equidem’s director, Mustafa Qadri, said: “The entire international community is complicit in the exploitation at the Expo. It’s a scandal.”

Photos:, Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty Images

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