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AP PHOTOS: Dubai migrant workers mark Ramadan

August 6, 2013

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Across the Muslim world, families gather at sunset after the daylong fast during the holy month of Ramadan. In a parking lot in Dubai, a group of Muslim laborers from India — separated from their homeland like millions of other workers across the Gulf — come together to play a game of cricket and to swap stories late into the evening.

The scene is recreated in countless ways in Dubai and other fast-growing Gulf cities where Muslim workers, mainly from South Asia, mark Ramadan in ways that reflect the bonds of their migrant communities but also underscore the stinging realities of these 21st century boomtowns, where unskilled workers can make less than $300 a month.

In the Dubai district of Al Quoz — the site of brief labor protests in 2007 — hundreds of laborers rush to the mosque to break their fast. Volunteers gather hours beforehand preparing thousands of meals provided for free by charities and local businesses. Although a few relief agencies provide help to laborers throughout the year, the Ramadan initiatives are for many a rare interaction with Dubai’s labor camps, which are often set in industrial areas and desert outskirts in sight of the city’s luxury high rises.

Officials in the United Arab Emirates have improved labor camp conditions in recent years after facing pressures from rights groups and others. But they also deny any shortcomings in the working or living conditions.

Here’s a gallery of images from Dubai


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