October 20, 2003


"According to an article in Tuesday�s Financial Times, US sub-contractors in Iraq are importing cheap labor from South Asia rather than hiring Iraqis" - writes Jashua Marshall. They have one alliby "Iraqis are Dangerous". But Josh discovers that "it's all about money".

According to an american expat living in the United Arab Emirates:

UAE: 20% of the pop is local. Of the 80% of the expat pop, fully 75% are subcontinenters. Why? Dirt cheap, much cheaper than the Arabs (imported or otherwise).

Of the international construction firms here, they all use minimum of 80% subcontinenters (i.e. the Halliburton and Bechtel types take all the money).

Bottom line: wages are a function of the price of living in the home countries. The price of living for subcontinenters in the subcontinent is nothing. E.g. I pay my Indian maid USD 300 month of which she supports a family of 10 people in Bombay and still manages to save probably 50% of her salary here in Dubai.

So it is not about security concerns. It is all about money. The US sub-contractors are exploiting these cheap labours and cashing on themselves. The employment and economic development of the Iraqis? That can wait.

Update: Aziz Poonawalla has also a post regarding this. He adds another point:

much of the imported labor is from Pakistan, not India. That means that the same security risk applies as with Iraqis! It is clearly a financial calculation, not a security one.

He also writes about the fact that money is being misspent in Iraq, amounting to an outrage for both Americans (whose money is being wasted) and Iraqis (who are being exploited).


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