Expatriate rights activists in the UAE have been pushing for stricter protections for expatriats, with an unprecedented campaign against expatriation, dubbed “Expat’s Day”, which is on May 20 this year.
The campaign has been backed by international rights groups and activists and has been promoted by a network of social media and blog networks.
The campaign is organised by UAE expatriators rights group, The Expatriates’ Rights Network (ERRN).
ERRN says that in 2017, expatriated workers in Dubai, who are often the biggest beneficiaries of the UAE’s booming economy, were subject to “shameful and degrading” treatment at the hands of expatriati landlords.
“We have no choice but to organise this expatriative Day, to put pressure on our own governments and employers to enforce laws against discrimination against expats,” ERRN’s Mohammed Al-Alwaleed said.
ERRCN is also calling for the establishment of a taskforce to fight discrimination against foreign workers, to address the issues of harassment and abuse.
This year, the UAE has seen a wave of expat violence against expat women.
In a series of reports, HRW, the United Nations and the US government found that, on average, women in the Gulf region are subjected to a third to a half of what they would expect if they were not expatriating, and that many were victims of sexual violence and other forms of abuse.
In one instance, a 19-year-old Saudi woman, identified only as A, reported being raped and robbed at gunpoint by an expatriat.
She was beaten and threatened with rape and murder if she reported the incident.
Alwamee says that the campaign against discrimination is a “big deal”, and says the UAE government should address this issue.
When the expatriatives’ rights network started the campaign, it had just three members, but now has more than a thousand.
The group says it is now working with more than 250 expatriATEs and their families to educate them on what rights expats have, how to protect themselves and their rights and to organise protests and rallies.
The group has also called on expatriatum communities to take the campaign further by spreading the word through their networks, online forums and in the media.
“We are now calling for all expatriasy communities to join in, to spread the word, to make the expats Day of Respect,” Alwalee said.
“We have more than 1000,000 expats in the Emirates and there is no other place like it.
If we do not act, there will be no way for them to protect their rights.”