Dubai // Riot police rushed to an Al Quoz labour camp on Saturday night to restore order after more than 1,000 men were involved in a skirmish following the alleged assault of a labourer by camp security guards.
Five Egyptian security guards have been arrested in connection with the incident.
The Al Quoz camp is home to about 3,000 Nepali and Indian workers.
Major General Khamis al Mazeina, the Dubai Police deputy head, said the argument between the guards and workers began on Saturday at around 11pm.
"The fight started when security guards hit a worker from an Asian country and the workers hit back," said Maj Gen al Mazeina. "The argument began over a problem the workers had with the bathroom."
The windows of two buses in the camp area were damaged in the incident.
Dubai Police teams, including specialised riot police, were sent to the camp to restore order.
"Police brought the situation under control and five Arabs were arrested for assaulting the worker," said Maj Gen al Mazeina, adding that the case would be referred to the public prosecution.
Indian aid workers who visited the site said the argument began during a party on New Year's day.
A worker at the camp, who asked not to be named, said this was not the first argument between security guards and the labourers.
"Problems between guards and workers have occurred several times in the past," he said.
Officials at Jams HR Solutions, the company that manages the camp, declined to comment. The company provides offices in Dubai and the Jebel Ali Free Zone with various manpower services including domestic, cleaning and stevedoring.
Following Saturday's clash, three Jams workers were taken to hospital with injuries, according to a worker who witnessed the incident. Maj Gen al Mazeina, however, said there were no workers in hospital.
Indian social workers visited the camp on Saturday and Sunday to talk to the workers and calm tempers. "We have been tracking this since Saturday night and our officers are in touch with the camp supervisors," said Sanjay Verma, the Indian consul general in Dubai.
"We understand it was dissatisfaction with living conditions, security-related issues and food supply [...] and this developed into a skirmish. It reached a flashpoint over differences about arrangements for the New Year's party."
He said the company management had assured consular officials the workers' concerns would be addressed and the workers too had consented to raise their complaints in a peaceful manner.