Dubai Ruler's thank you campaign to workers gains momentum

The Minister of Labour is among those who will be touring construction sites to thank Dubai's least lauded, but most deserving workers.

Dubai, United Arab Emirates - January 2 2013 - The UAE Minister of Labour Saqr Ghobash Saeed Gobash hands out mobile phones to construction workers at the construction site of the Al Jalila Children's Speciality Hospital. This PR event comes after Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum's announcement that the UAE should thank and focus on the work of laborers. (Razan Alzayani / The National)

DUBAI // A campaign to honour the emirate’s hardest workers has continued to gain momentum as government bodies pull out the stops for their unsung heroes.

The thank-yous are being made at the request of Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, who asked that anyone seeking to celebrate the seventh anniversary of his accession to Ruler should channel his or her energies instead into honouring the emirate’s construction workers, domestic workers, gardeners and janitors.

Saqr Ghobash Saeed Ghobash, the Minister of Labour, got involved yesterday by visiting a construction site in Oud Metha. He told more than 300 workers at the Al Jalila Children’s Speciality Hospital site that they play a vital role in the emirate.

“Without you life would be extremely difficult for all of us,” Mr Ghobash said. “We are all very grateful for the work you do on a daily basis. You have helped to build the buildings of this city and your work should be celebrated.”

The minister then handed out mobile phones to the labourers. They were also given gift boxes containing a cap, T-shirt and a key ring.

Mr Ghobash said the visit was just one of several planned by himself and other members of Government to construction sites across Dubai in the next few days.

The speech and the gifts were welcomed by workers at the event.

“I think it’s good that Sheikh Mohammed has spoken about the work that we do,” said Sarwan Singh, 25, from India, who works as a carpenter at the site.

“I wasn’t expecting to get any gifts and the mobile phones will be very useful for people here. It’s good that the government appreciates what we do.”

Others agreed, saying conditions had improved in recent years.

“We get treated a lot better here,” said a 26-year-old Pakistani labourer who did not want to be identified.

“We were told to come here for a speech from the minister and I thought that we would be listening to that and then go, but he stayed and chatted to a few of my friends here.

“I was surprised when they started handing out the phones. Before we had to wait in line to use the phone or borrow someone else’s but now it will be much easier. The workers have helped to build this city and it’s nice to know we are getting more respect.”

The construction site is operated by Al-Futtaim Carillion, which is building the new hospital. Senior management said they were delighted that the minister had chosen their company to visit.

“We take the welfare of our employees very seriously,” said Simon Webb, the company’s managing director.

He said the construction company made sure that staff did not work more than a 70-hour-week, and no more than 11 hours a day including a break.

“We also provide entertainment for them at the camp, including organising cricket and football competitions.

The Roads and Transport Authority got involved in the campaign by honouring 30 members of staff including administrative workers as well as waterbus skippers and seamen for their hard work and dedication.  Employees from various nationalities who displayed good safety standards, punctuality and a high level of service were thanked for their efforts.

Workers in the Sanitation and Horticulture department of Dubai Municipality also received a surprise visit from top officials, who handed out gifts and thanked them for their continued work to make the city a cleaner, better place to live.

Earlier in the week, Dubai Municipality arranged for a dinner cruise on the creek, a tour of Dubai, a visit to Global Village and handed out mobile phone recharge cards.

Today, a group of workers has been selected for a visit to the Burj Khalifa and a cricket tournament will be held at the worker accommodations.