The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has the second highest prevalence in the Arab States region, and the seventh highest prevalence in the Global Slavery Index. Migrant workers in the UAE are particularly vulnerable under the kafala (sponsorship) system, a restrictive work permit system that ties migrant workers to their employer.1 The system embeds a steep power imbalance by granting employers control over their employees’ lives.2 However, the UAE is among countries taking the most action to address modern slavery in comparison to other countries in the region. Since the 2018 Global Slavery Index, the government has implemented reforms to increase labour protections and remove elements of the kafala system,3 although these reforms have been insufficient to dismantle the system entirely. Opportunities for further action include strengthening protections for migrant workers, addressing forced and child marriage, and eradicating modern slavery from the economy.
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