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New home 'almost ready' for Nad al Sheba workers

Arabtec 'days away' from shifting labourers away from slammed camp

Arabtec has more than 20 labour camps across Dubai and Abu Dhabi
Arabtec has more than 20 labour camps across Dubai and Abu Dhabi

Arabtec Construction is days away from shifting 1,500 workers from Nad al Sheba, the labour camp at the centre of the controversial BBC documentary screened in April, to a brand new facility.

The new camp, in Dubai’s Meydan area, will accommodate the second phase of workers to be moved from the Nad al Sheba camp to allow for its dismantling.

Meydan Camp is first being brought into line with the necessary rules and regulations that govern labour camps, a process which is almost complete, Arabtec accommodation and welfare officer Lakshmi Montgomery said this morning.

“There are certain terms and conditions set by the Dubai Municipality and the Ministry of Labour that camps should meet,” she stated. “It is almost ready.”

Montgomery added that bringing the new facility into line with fire safety regulations was the current priority for Arabtec before the first phase of workers could be moved.

“When we get to a camp it does not have all of the fire alarm systems in place, and in this case [Meydan Camp] old wooden cabinets were in place.

“We have to dismantle these and put metal ones in because they are not flammable. In that way we are trying to upgrade the whole system.”

Arabtec employs around 62,000 people. The Nad al Sheba camp accommodated 8,500 workers at its peak, though that number has been dwindling as the camp is being dismantled due to the completion of projects in its vicinity.

The undercover BBC documentary alleged to have found the Nad al Sheba facility in a filthy state and overcrowded.

Arabtec admitted in the aftermath of the documentary’s screening that it had been upset by the coverage, and that the media should focus on the positive aspects of life inside its camps.

“We are doing our best,” Arabtec administration manager Mahmoud Al Shant told journalists on a tour of the Nad al Sheba camp a fortnight after the screening.

Arabtec is also putting the finishing touches to recreational facilities within Meydan Camp.

“We are working to update the recreation room, the basketball ground, and other things that the labourers have asked for,” Montgomery added.

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Construction Week - Issue 749
Sep 15, 2019