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Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery

Poverty drives the unsuspecting poor into the hands of traffickers

Published reports & articles from 2000 to 2025       

United Arab Emirates (UAE)

The UAE has an open economy with a high per capita income and a sizable annual trade surplus. Successful efforts at economic diversification have reduced the portion of GDP based on oil and gas output to 25%. Since the discovery of oil in the UAE more than 30 years ago, the UAE has undergone a profound transformation from an impoverished region of small desert principalities to a modern state with a high standard of living. The government has increased spending on job creation and infrastructure expansion and is opening up utilities to greater private sector involvement. Dependence on oil and a large expatriate workforce are significant long-term challenges.

Description: Description: UAE

The UAE's strategic plan for the next few years focuses on diversification and creating more opportunities for nationals through improved education and increased private sector employment.  [The World Factbook, U.S.C.I.A. 2009]

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is a destination for men and women, predominantly from South and Southeast Asia, trafficked for the purposes of labor and commercial sexual exploitation. Migrant workers, who comprise more than 90 percent of the UAE’s private sector workforce, are recruited from India, Bangladesh, Pakistan, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Indonesia, Ethiopia, Eritrea, China, and the Philippines. Women from some of these countries travel willingly to work as domestic servants or administrative staff, but some are subjected to conditions indicative of forced labor, including unlawful withholding of passports, restrictions on movement, non-payment of wages, threats, or physical or sexual abuse. Trafficking of domestic workers is facilitated by the fact that the normal protections provided to workers under UAE labor law do not apply to domestic workers, leaving them more vulnerable to abuse. Similarly, men from India, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and Pakistan are drawn to the UAE for work in the construction sector, but are often subjected to conditions of involuntary servitude and debt bondage.  - U.S. State Dept Trafficking in Persons Report, June, 2009   Check out a later country report here and possibly a full TIP Report here


CAUTION:  The following links have been culled from the web to illuminate the situation in the United Arab Emirates.  Some of these links may lead to websites that present allegations that are unsubstantiated or even false.  No attempt has been made to verify their authenticity or to validate their content.



If you are looking for material to use in a term-paper, you are advised to scan the postings on this page and others to see which aspects of Human Trafficking are of particular interest to you.  Would you like to write about Forced-Labor?  Debt Bondage? Prostitution? Forced Begging? Child Soldiers? Sale of Organs? etc.  On the other hand, you might choose to include precursors of trafficking such as poverty and hunger. There is a lot to the subject of Trafficking.  Scan other countries as well.  Draw comparisons between activity in adjacent countries and/or regions.  Meanwhile, check out some of the Term-Paper resources that are available on-line.


Check out some of the Resources for Teachers attached to this website.

HELP for Victims

Police, Criminal Investigation
04- 2013430
Country code: 971-



Migrant Women in the United Arab Emirates - The case of female domestic workers [PDF]

Rima Sabban, Gender Promotion Programme, International Labour Office Geneva, 2002 (est)

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

[page 18]  3.1. GENERAL CONDITIONS - Isolation is a dominant feature of foreign female domestic worker work environment in the United Arab Emirates. Foreign female domestic workers are isolated physically,  psychologically, socially, culturally and in all aspects of human existence. However, they differ in their level of isolation. Some foreign female domestic workers live in an abusive environment of isolation. Others are able to interact socially and break through some of the physical and psychological barriers they face.

Legally, once a foreign female domestic worker enters her employer’s house, she is totally under his/her control, since the employer is usually her visa sponsor. Even today, United Arab Emirates labour laws do not recognize domestics as part of the labour force.  The employer bears total responsibility for his/her domestic workers and has total control over them. However, during the first three months of the contract, both the employer and the employee have the right to contact the recruiting agency in order to report problems or to seek change in the status or employment of the foreign female domestic worker. Most recruiting agencies, however, do not encourage this practice, and often hide information from the foreign female domestic worker about their rights. The immigration regulations governing the status of domestic workers and the social practices towards foreign female domestic worker in the United Arab Emirates enslave them to their employers until the duration of their contract ends. Whether one is placed with a desirable or an undesirable employer is a matter of luck.

Woman jailed for forcing child into sex trade

Independent Online (IOL) News, Dushanbe, November 5 2004

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Last week a non-governmental organisation said there was a growing trend in the abduction and sale of Tajik boys for sexual exploitation abroad.  The Modar organisation said groups in the United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Pakistan and other countries were prepared to pay as much as $70 000 for a Tajik boy between the ages of 10 and 12.


*** ARCHIVES ***

2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices: United Arab Emirates

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, 30 March 2021 united-arab-emirates/

[accessed 29 June 2021]


It was relatively common for employers to subject migrant domestic workers, and to a lesser degree, construction and other manual labor workers, to conditions equivalent to forced labor. Contract substitution remained a problem. Workers experienced nonpayment of wages, unpaid overtime, failure to grant legally required time off, withholding of passports, threats, and in some cases psychological, physical, or sexual abuse. There were reports employers raped or sexually assaulted foreign domestic workers. These cases rarely went to court, and those that did led to few convictions. In a few cases physical abuses led to death. Local newspapers reported on court cases involving violence committed against maids and other domestic workers.

In violation of the law, employers routinely held employees’ passports, thus restricting their freedom of movement and ability to leave the country or change jobs. In labor camps it was common practice for passports to be kept in a central secure location, accessible with 24 or 48 hours’ notice. In most cases individuals reported they were able to obtain documents without difficulty when needed, but this was not always the case. There were media reports that employees were coerced to surrender their passports for “safekeeping” and sign documentation that the surrender was voluntary. With domestic employees, passport withholding frequently occurred, and enforcement against this practice was weak.

Some employers forced foreign workers in the domestic and agricultural sectors to compensate them for hiring expenses such as visa fees, health exams, and insurance, which the law requires employers to pay, by withholding wages or having these costs deducted from their contracted salary. Some employers did not pay their employees contracted wages even after they satisfied these “debts.”

There were other reports from community leaders that employers would refuse to apply for a residency visa for their domestic workers, rendering them undocumented and thus vulnerable to exploitation.

Although charging workers recruitment fees was illegal, workers in both the corporate and domestic sectors often borrowed money to pay recruiting fees in their home countries, and as a result they spent most of their salaries trying to repay home-country labor recruiters or lenders. These debts limited workers’ options to leave a job and sometimes trapped them in exploitive work conditions.

Freedom House Country Report

2020 Edition

[accessed 10 May 2020]


Foreign workers are often exploited and subjected to harsh working conditions, physical abuse, and withholding of passports with little to no access to legal recourse. A series of ministerial decrees issued in 2015 aimed to give migrant workers more flexibility to terminate employment under certain conditions. Foreign household workers were not covered by those decrees or by labor laws in general, leaving them especially vulnerable. A law adopted in 2017 guaranteed such household workers basic protections and benefits including sick leave and daily rest periods, though they were inferior to those in the national labor law, and household workers would still be unable to leave their employers without a breach of contract.

Iranian islands a torture ground for duped migrants

Mohammad Jamil Khan, Dhaka Tribune, 4 April 2015

[accessed 13 April 2015]

[accessed 22 February 2018]

When hard-working Bangladeshi migrants arrive in the UAE looking for jobs, they are steered by dreams of turning their own lives around, while they seize every opportunity before them to earn a little extra for their loved ones back home.

But that leaves them vulnerable to exploitation by unscrupulous opportunity seekers.

An Iran-based gang of human traffickers lure the Bangladeshi men with promises of better jobs in European countries – mostly in Turkey, Greece and Italy; but as soon as they are smuggled out of the  United Arab Emirates, the workers are held captive in islands near the Iranian port city of Bandar Abbas.

Hideouts on the islands – located in the 39km stretch of the Strait of Hormuz – are used to torture the Bangladeshi expatriates, while their families back home are contacted to demand ransom. Many of the hostages are unable to survive the torture, and die there at the hands of their captors.

46% of absconding maids victimised by employers

Nadia Sultan, The Gulf Today, November 01, 2010

[accessed 1 November 2010]

While discussing the cases that they have been involved with, Jamal said that a widow in her twenties, identified as SSH, had been suffering from financial problems in her country. When she saw an advertisement about a job in the UAE, she left her two children and signed a contract that said she would be paid Dhs5,000.   When she came to the country, she worked as a maid for a family, but was soon persuaded to abandon her sponsor by a compatriot. The woman had told her that she would give her a better job with double the salary. The maid ran away and found herself involved in a gang that ran a flat for prostitution. When she tried to run away, they beat her up and raped her. Later, she threw herself off the balcony from the third floor and was paralyzed from her lower half and is now being treated at a hospital. The gang was then arrested and referred to the court.

He also gave the example of another trafficking case involving two European girls, who were both under the age of 15. The girls had come to the country along with their mother and their Asian stepfather, but the stepfather then sold the older girl. The other daughter was also exploited and made to work as a prostitute. Both girls later went to the police, who arrested the stepfather, said Jamal, adding that the case is still ongoing.

Despite this, he noted that there has been progress towards solving the problem.   Highlighting the efforts made by the police, Jamal said that victims now seem to have more confidence in officials, as there have more than 10 cases where women that have become victims in such crimes have approached the police on their own. This is despite the fact that they had entered the country illegally or had an expired visa, he added.   “Issues related to trusting officials are problematic all around the world, but Dubai Police has tried to ensure that victims know that the police are dealing with the cases seriously.

Human trafficking and prostitution gang jailed

Eman Al Baik, Emirates 24/7 News, October 30, 2010

[accessed 1 November 2010]

A 22-year old Kyrgyz woman arrived in the country on April 28, 2009, on a visit visa following a promise of a pastry job for $700 by a compatriot woman who arranged for her the visa, air ticket and accommodation.   An unidentified woman received her at the airport. When the visitor asked about the woman who had offered her the job, she told her that she had been sold to her for $32,000.   The unknown woman told her that she had to pay back the costs in prostitution.   The unknown woman then sold her to the gang consisting of three Uzbek women identified as NT, KS, and NA, and two Afghan men KJN and KI who raped the victim and forced her into prostitution.   The victim was asked to please 10 men a day and if she refused her rapist would threaten to kill her and tortured her with cigarettes and beat her up.

International workshop on human trafficking opens

Dina El Shammaa, Gulf News,  October 27, 2010

[accessed 6 January 2011]

The UAE acknowledges the existence of human trafficking as a problem, since the common scenario among the majority of trafficked persons in the UAE, is that they are promised illusionary job-positions, and end up working under conditions against their consent (i.e. prostitution).

“Human trafficking crimes are common in economically stable countries because business is lucrative. That’s why the UAE is under risk of attracting more human traffickers. Not to mention that the UAE is close to the borders of countries involved in such crimes; victims mostly arrive from South East Asia and Africa,” the UNODC told Gulf News during the sidelines of the forum.

UAE anti-trafficking report documents progress

Al Bawaba News, May 31st, 2009

[accessed 6 January 2011]

The annual report, “Combatting Human Trafficking in the UAE – 2008-09", highlights the country’s stand on the crime, efforts to counter it, progress made, obstacles encountered, and plans for the future.   According to the report, over 20 cases were registered last year, as opposed to 10 cases in 2007. "This represents an 100 percent increase in registered cases compared to 2007, suggesting that the combating process is gradually, but surely, intensifying," the report said.   The number of prosecutions and the severity of punishments prescribed by the UAE courts also increased significantly, the report said, adding that there were convictions in six cases, with two people receiving life sentence.

According to Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Dr Anwar Gargash, “The UAE firmly stands against both the exploitation of human beings. The resolve to fight trafficking at home and abroad in collaboration with international partners remains central to the country's anti-trafficking strategy.”   Dr. Gargash, who is also the chairman of the anti-trafficking committee, said “The UAE will continue to take a lead on this issue in the region and internationally, acknowledging the existence of human trafficking as a problem that afflicts our society, just as it does in many other countries."

Human trafficking gang busted, girl recovered

The News International, Peshawar, 25 May 2009

[access date unavailable]

[accessed 22 February 2018]

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) Sunday busted an international human trafficking gang and recovered a girl sold to an Arab Sheikh for Rs2 million. The officials of the FIA Peshawar were tipped off that a gang would smuggle a young girl of Lala Killay to Dubai where she had been sold to …

US Report on Human Trafficking in UAE a Lie

Khaleej Times, Abu Dhabi, 6 May 2009

[accessed 6 January 2011]

[scroll down]

Dr Mohammed Anwar Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Chairman of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, has dismissed a US State Department report that the UAE has around 10,000 victims of human trafficking as a mere lie.   Speaking at the Federal National Council (FNC) session on Tuesday, the minister said the report has political motivation and is a reflection of the political philosophy of the US State Department.

Trafficking From Caucasus - IOM Case Studies [PDF]

International Organization for Migration IOM, "Trafficking in Women and Children from the Republic of Armenia: A Study" (2001)

[accessed 27 August 2011]

[accessed 22 February 2018]

Case study 3 (Victim – U.A.E.) -- "I met my boyfriend at my girl-friend’s house. He had been dating me for a month already when he told me he was going to marry me. My boyfriend told me we could earn some money for our wedding if we went to work in Greece at his friend’s company.

We would stay for three months there to earn enough money and come back. I was extremely happy. I could not believe all that was happening to me. He took my passport and all necessary papers and said that he would take care of visa and travel arrangements. I was so happy and careless that I did not even ask to see the tickets or documents. The day of departure came. We took the plane and instead of Greece we landed in Dubai.

He took me to a hotel and said that he was going to see his friend and would be back soon. Two hours later a man came to take me to another hotel saying that I was his property. I could not understand, I kept saying that it was a misunderstanding and that my friend would come soon. I had come to Dubai for another purpose. The man told me that my friend had sold me to him, that from now on he would have my documents and I had to do whatever he told me to. He said that the next day I had to move to another place and serve all the clients he would send to me.

Three on traficking charges

Salam Hafez, The National, Mar 9, 2009

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Police have arrested three men of Eastern European origin on charges of human trafficking and forcing women into prostitution.   They lured women from their own countries to the UAE with the promise of jobs in the hospitality or retail sector, but instead held them prisoners as prostitutes in brothels in Deira, planning to sell them on for Dh5,000 (US$1,360), a Criminal Investigation Department (CID) source said.   The gang threatened to kill them if they talked, police added.

Human Trafficking from Bangladesh Drops Drastically

Anwar Ahmad, Khaleej Times, Abu Dhabi, 28 December 2008

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Incidents of human trafficking and children being employed as camel jockeys have dropped to low levels, according to figures from the Bangladesh mission here.   Embassy deputy head Shaid Bakheiyar Alam said more than 200 camel jockeys were repatriated between 2006-2007 while this year only 10 cases were registered.   The official attributed the drop in incidents to the efforts of the UAE government, Unicef and the mission here.

EFFORTS TO COMBAT THE MENACE - Mostly children are lured with good life and quality education promises while for the women it is for brighter prospects.   The establishment of the National Committee for combating human trafficking in accordance with the federal law is a bright spot in the record of the UAE which is considered a forerunner in the field of human rights.

A study conducted by the Abu Dhabi police said as many as 10,000 human trafficking cases were registered in 2008 in the UAE, which include camel jockeys and women forced into prostitution.   The UAE returned more than 1,000 children employed as camel jockeys to their countries of origin in a co-ordinated effort with Unicef, and is also involved in programmes to rehabilitate them.

Police sting nets human traffickers

The National, 15 December 2008 – Source:

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Police said they had dismantled a network which lured women from their home countries with promises of legitimate work, only to force them into prostitution.   The gang also preyed on women who had absconded from sponsors in Dubai, kidnapping them and forcing them into the sex trade or selling them to the highest bidders.

The woman was lured to the UAE to work legally as a maid by one of the gang members, the police said. She was kidnapped on arrival, imprisoned and forced into prostitution while the gang waited to trade her to anyone who would meet their asking price. It is unclear whether the woman would remain here or be sent back to Bangladesh.

Three women accuse owner of the City of Hope of selling their babies

Bassma Al Jandaly, Gulf News, Dubai, May 20, 2008

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Three young women of different nationalities are accusing the owner of the City of Hope shelter, Sharla Musabih, of selling their new-born babies to families in the UAE.

Stiff penalties to combat crime

Alia Al Theeb, Gulf News, Dubai, April 10, 2008

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Ten human trafficking cases have been reported in the UAE, five of them are cases in which verdicts have been issued, while others are still with the judicial authorities, a senior official said.

Major General Khamis Mattar Al Mazeina, Dubai Police's Deputy Commandant General, said eight of the cases were in Dubai. He said there are no Emiratis or Arabs involved in those cases. He pointed out that the number of cases is not a phenomenon at all compared to other countries where such crimes are common.

Trafficking tough to tame in rich Gulf states

Lin Noueihed, Reuters, Dubai, Feb 23, 2008

[accessed 6 January 2011]

BROKEN PROMISES - Aysha's case puts a face on the figures.  She was sitting outside her home in Uzbekistan when she was approached by a woman who showed her pictures of Dubai and promised her a job as a waitress.  When she and her cousin arrived in Dubai, their hair was cut, their eyebrows plucked and they were given skimpy clothes to wear. They were locked up in an apartment with four other girls who were made to work as prostitutes.  On day two, Aysha and her cousin escaped from the disco when their boss had to go out on an urgent errand. They flagged down a taxi, but the only English word they knew was airport.  They lived in the airport toilets for two days before being found and sent to the Uzbek consulate, which sent them to the shelter.  "The other girls wanted to run away too but they were too afraid. I think they tried before but were caught," Aysha said.

Trafficking victims find support and solace

Alia Al Theeb, Gulf News, Dubai, December 29, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Providing legal and psychological support to the women and children who fall prey to human traffickers are the goals of a section that was established lately by Dubai Police.  The section that takes care of human trafficking victims at Dubai Police's Human Rights Care Department was established this year.

LURE OF JOBS - Most of the cases the section receives are related to women who are promised jobs here as nurses or air hostesses.  After they come here, someone from their own nationality receives them at the airport and takes their passports.  After that, the women are taken to hotels and forced into prostitution.  Some manage to escape and contact the section through police stations, while others suffer mental torture.

Dubai declares war on human trafficking

Atul Aneja, The Hindu, Dubai, Dec 06, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

[accessed 23 June 2017]

Launching a new drive against human trafficking, authorities in Dubai have busted a well entrenched prostitution ring operating from upscale villas and apartments.  The Dubai police have arrested 247 suspects, including 170 sex workers after raiding 22 locations on December 1, said Dubai police chief Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim. Most of the sex workers were from East Asia.

Earlier this year, UAE Attorney-General Eassam Al-Humaidan had announced that a decision had been taken to confront human traffickers with an iron hand. He said practitioners would face a five-year jail sentence. Besides, anyone convicted of forming a gang for this purpose would be jailed for life.

Human Rights Watch questions Guggenheim museum labor

Associated Press AP, New York, November 13, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

"Our laws are tougher than anyone else's in the Mideast," Al Kaabi said at the time. "But the lack of inspectors means sometimes we don't see these problems."

The United Arab Emirates already has issued laws addressing many of the abuses in the Human Rights Watch report: workers' salaries and passports held back by companies, dangerous working conditions, shady labor agents whose fees keep workers locked in debt and labor law enforcers beholden to connected companies, not to workers.

The United Arab Emirates' ruler, Sheik Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, also announced tough penalties, up to life imprisonment, against trafficking in humans, which has illegally taken domestic servants, prostitutes and even child camel race jockeys into the country.

Whitson called the changes "cosmetic" and said the problem needed to be addressed systemically.

Dubai's Promised Land of Luxury Lures Women Into Sexual Slavery

Glen Carey in Dubai, Bloomberg News, November 5, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

[accessed 23 February 2018]

Fei Fei, a 22-year-old from China's Guangdong province, has a souvenir of her eight months in Dubai: burns on her back and arms from cigarette butts crushed against her skin when she refused to work as a prostitute.  She eventually submitted when a criminal gang threatened to send nude photos of her to family members. That indignity, she said, would have been worse than selling her body.  ``They take pictures of me naked in shower,'' Fei Fei said in broken English as she pulled up her shirt to reveal the dark red circular marks. Soon afterward, she adopted the English name ``Lucy,'' and sold sex in Dubai bars for 500 dirhams ($130) a trick to claw back her freedom.

Fight human trafficking

Sawsan Fikree, Special to Gulf News, October 30, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

ABJECT SLAVERY - The need of the hour is not a blame game played out by certain media entities and individuals who claim the moral high ground but of adopting a sensitive awareness to stop unscrupulous traders in their tracks.

Groups and individuals need to synergise to help reluctant victims shed inhibitions and expose their tormentors. This can be achieved not only through empowerment of non governmental organisations but also by enlisting the help of taxi drivers to expose the city's vice dens.

It is also important to be aware of the extent we end up practising such acts, unknowingly, by imposing unreasonable hours and endless work loads on our household helpers.

Fight against human trafficking stepped up

Bassam Za'za', Gulf News, Dubai, October 23, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

PREVENTIVE MEASURES - The chief public prosecutor Mansour Abdullah who questioned the suspects said: "The victims worked as housemaids before they abandoned their sponsor.  "They met S.F. who promised to hire them and kept them in a flat. An unidentified suspect [who is still at large] aided S.F. to confine the girls in the flat and forced them to have sex with customers."  Abdullah said they beat and tortured the girls every time they refused to have sex with customers.

[Editor’s note:  the suspects who were charged were Asian]

From the arc lights of Vadapalani to dance bars of Dubai and back

Krishna Velupillai, The Hindu, Chennai, Aug 24, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

[accessed 23 June 2017]

Meenakshi was once a bubbly girl who worked in the film studios of Chennai. After finishing her eighth year in school, she followed in her father’s footsteps and become a junior artist in films. Beautiful and fair, Meenakshi received a lot of attention on the sets. Meenakshi had befriended two middle-aged female dancers who had told her she could go to Dubai and earn a lot of money as a dancer. They had also told her she could meet filmmakers there whom she could impress with her dancing. Persuaded by them, Meenakshi, her eyes filled with dreams, set off for Dubai.  Less than two months later, she returned in a wheel chair, a mere shadow of the woman she was and unable to tell anyone what had happened to her.

Dubai - Justice was done

Ali Al-Shouk, 7DAYS General and Local News, Dubai, 11 Jul, 2007

-- Source:

[accessed 6 January 2011]

[scroll down to Wednesday 11 Jul, 2007]

Dubai's top prosecutor has hailed 15-year prison sentences handed yesterday to a couple for human trafficking - the first ever convictions for the crime in the UAE. The two Indians bought their female victim for just dhs4,300 and forced her into prostitution before attempting to sell her on.

Two plead innocent to human trafficking charges

Bassam Za'za', Gulf News, Dubai, July 6, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

A housemaid and a driver are pleading innocent against the human trafficking of an Indonesian female even though they were caught red-handed trying to sell her to a policeman.

"The Indians then sold me for Dh4,300 to T.S. and M.K. who forced me into prostitution," she said in her statement.  They used to pocket the sex customer's money for themselves and the 29-year-old used 'to beat and abuse me', she alleged.

Meanwhile, the Public Prosecution is currently looking into the third case of its kind.  Two Indians suspects are believed to have sold two housemaids, a 23-year-old Bangladeshi and a 33-year-old Indonesian, for Dh9,000 and were forcing them into prostitution.

Human trafficking from Armenia to Dubai, UAE

Esra'a, Mideast Youth, Bahrain, June 19th, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Click [here] to access the article.  Its URL is not displayed because of its length

[accessed 9 October 2016]

when she arrived in Abu Dhabi she was taken to a brothel where a pimp told her that he had bought her for $7000. From that moment on she was to work as a prostitute until she paid off her so-called debt. After three months of captivity, Tanya managed to escape. She bolted to a police station and recounted her story. Incredibly, she was charged with prostitution and sentenced to three years in a desert prison. In 2001, psychologically crushed and ashamed, Tanya was released. Nothing happened to her pimp. Branded a prostitute by the Muslim nation, she was summarily deported back to her Ukraine.

Private sector 'can help combat human trafficking'

Bassam Za'Za', Gulf News, Dubai, June 5, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

He said T.S. and M.K. used the victim's poverty to subjugate and exploit her into working in the sex industry unwillingly. "The couple bought her from an unidentified person for Dh4,300 after she reportedly abandoned her sponsor. When she refused to have sex with customers, she got brutally beaten by the female suspect," said the Attorney General.

New study shames human traffickers

Patrick Mathangani, The Standard, May 11, 2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Countries in the Middle East have been named as the worst culprits of human trafficking.

A new report by an international trade unions’ umbrella organisation says Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen are notorious destinations for women trafficked from Kenya.

Its report, ‘Trafficking in Persons — The Eastern Africa Situation’, notes that women and children were favourite targets for well-organised trafficking rings, which operate freely for lack of solid laws against the vice.

Stress on global network to fight human trafficking

Zoi Constantine, Gulf News, Dubai, March 11, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

A teacher in her home country, Noora says she was tempted by the promise of a good job and salary in Dubai. It was the first time that she had ever left her home country and her job and visa were arranged by a man she was put in contact with by a friend from her home town.

In her early 20's at the time, Noora was told to expect a representative from the school where she was to work to collect her from the airport. Instead, she was met by a couple who took her to their home in Sharjah and locked her inside a room in a high-rise.

"The first couple of days were a blur. I kept asking when I was starting my job. The wife laughed and said there is no school - that I had to work as a prostitute," she remembers. "I was terrified and couldn't do anything. I was powerless."

Trafficking – Serious Problem for Azerbaijan - Victim of human trafficking told how she found herself within the net of criminal elements

R. Ibragimkhalilova, Echo, 13.01.2007

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Rafiga understood that she was deceived. But as her neighbor had her passport she tried to persuade “mama Rosa” to give back her document. However, woman told that Rafiga is her debtor as her marriage and ticket purchase were very expensive. “I will return your passport when you work a debt out, and you will be free”, “mama Rosa told”.

UAE : Probe begins into Indian Human Trafficking Racket

Khaleej Times, DUBAI, Jan. 11, 2007

[accessed 6 January 2011]

The 54 year-old visitor identified as A.K.S, 50, and his wife identified as M.S, were waiting for a connecting flight to Paris when they were arrested. They were reportedly carrying fake passports of two young boys accompanying them.

The data recorded in the passports of the two minors showed them to be the sons of the accused but upon questioning, the couple denied being the parents, claiming they had been asked by some people in Mumbai to hand over the children to someone in Paris.

Dahi: Tough law will help fight all other forms of trafficking

Samir Salama, Bureau Chief, Gulf News, Abu Dhabi, November 11, 2006

[accessed 6 January 2011]

He warned that thousands of people in the country could be traffickers without them knowing it. "They are not aware that the way they treat their domestic servants such as denying them communication with others, toying with their salaries, as well as the illegal tricks employed by labour companies constitute servitude."

Life term for human trafficking under new federal law

Adel Arafah, Khaleej Times Online, Abu Dhabi, 10 July 2006

[accessed 6 January 2011]

The Ministerial Legislative Committee (MLC) here approved yesterday an anti-human trafficking federal draft law.  A life-imprisonment term is to be slapped against anyone implicated in any of the crimes of human trafficking, such as sexual exploitation, forced labour, slavery, or any malpractices of the kind, the draft law stipulates.

Kyrgyz Police Halt Flight To U.A.E. On Trafficking Suspicion

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL Newsline, 16 February 2006

[accessed 28 August 2011]


One, a resident of Samarkand, said that she was traveling to work in a restaurant in Dubai. But another woman, a 17-year-old from Ferghana, said that she was going to the U.A.E. to work as a prostitute. The woman cited a lack of alternative employment opportunities in Uzbekistan as the reasons for her decision.

Country Reports - Turkmenistan

Marsha A. Freeman & Natalie Hoover, International Women's Rights Action Watch IWRAW, Prepared for the UN Committee on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women, 35th Session, May 2006

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

ARTICLE 6 - TRAFFICKING AND PROSTITUTION [40] - “Because getting out of Turkmenistan is difficult,” she said, “I allowed myself to be smuggled out of here via Iran, but I was told I would have a good job working for an Arab family in Dubai.”  After an arduous road journey across Iran and a Gulf crossing by boat, she found herself working in a Russian syndicate-run brothel in Dubai.  “It was horrific.  I worked all night, every night, for six days, and was beaten if I refused to perform,” she added tearfully.  “I know I was stupid,” she added, “but there’s nothing, nothing, nothing for us here.”

Kidnapped Children Starve As Camel Jockey Slaves

Peter Conradi, Abu Dhabi, The Sunday Times, March 27, 2005

[accessed 6 January 2011]

As many as 5,000 children, some as young as two, have been kidnapped or bought from their parents in the Indian sub-continent and Africa as part of a quest by camel trainers to gain the edge over their racing rivals.

Camel Jockeys Trying To Recover Lost Childhood

Andrew Hammond, Reuters News, ABU DHABI, May 10, 2005

[accessed 13 February 2016]

Both the UAE and Qatar have talked about plans to use “robots” for camel jockeys, operated by remote control. They say the technology has been tried and tested, but locals involved in the sport doubt it will be popular or practical.  “These children have lost their childhood, they are living in hell,” he said, describing starvation to keep the boys light weight to race faster, long hours and sometimes sexual abuse. He said the shelter was paradise but doubted police were able to locate most children’s parents. “These boys should get compensation,” he said, adding he had found one as young as three.

Child camel jockeys find hope

Lucy Williamson, BBC News, Dubai, 4 February, 2005

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Children from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Sudan are still being smuggled to the United Arab Emirates to work as camel jockeys, despite a law passed two years ago banning their use.  It is not uncommon for child jockeys to fall off and be injured while racing, and their illegal status means race track owners are often reluctant to take them to hospital.  Instead, says Ansar Burney, the boys often arrive with broken hands or broken legs. And many, he says, have been sodomised.

Missing Girl Rescued By A Journalist

Asian Sex Gazette, Dubai, May 2, 2005

[accessed 6 January 2011]

“They forced me into prostitution,” Priya said after she was rescued, according to a friend. “I was beaten up several times and finally had to give in to their demands. We were being shifted to a different flat every two days. The customers used to pay dhs50, which the agents used to collect. It was a real hell out there.”

Work Worries - Women going abroad to work is leading to more human trafficking

Lanka Business Online, 04 Mar 2005

[accessed 17 February 2011]

Sri Lankan women are trafficked to Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain and Qatar, mainly as sex workers or for forced labor.

Slavery of Children and women in Persian gulf countries

Morteza Aminmansour, Persian Journal, Jun 20, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

One of the fastest growing means by which children are enslaved today is trafficking. Girls as young as six are trafficked to work as maids in UAE and Saudi Arabia. Men and women and children live and work as slaves or in slave-like conditions. The sexual enslavement of children is part of the generation exploitation of children in impoverished parts of the world.

Corruption is Limiting Kazakhstan’s Efforts Against Human Trafficking

Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty RFE/RL, June 02, 2004

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Most citizens of Kazakhstan who fall victim to human trafficking are sent to the United Arab Emirates, though some have been sent to western Europe, Israel. And Saudi Arabia.

Human trafficking from Iran to Gulf Shiekhdoms [PDF]

Shargh daily, May 26, 2004

[accessed 21 June 2113]

[scroll down]

A group of Iranian boys and girls will be sold in an auction today in Fojeyreh, United Arab Emirates. At a round table discussion on human trafficking held yesterday (at the office of) the Young Iranian Society news agency, it was announced that the preparations for this auction were made two weeks before by hunters of Iranian women and girls in the course of an international exhibition…

The human hunters were able to choose 54 Iranian girls out of the 286 that were put on show in an Arab country's booth. They were then sent to a Persian Gulf country on May 17 to get ready for the Fojeyreh auction on May 26….

Leader of Tajik prostitution ring jailed for selling young women to Emirates

Agence France-Presse AFP, 26 April 2004

[accessed 6 January 2011]

The leader of a prostitution ring in Tajikistan has been jailed for three-and-a-half years for sending young women to the United Arab Emirates to work forcibly in the sex trade, the trial judge told AFP Monday.  Anvar Rakhmatov was arrested in October last year in the north of this impoverished former Soviet Central Asian republic as he was about to put three young women on a flight to Dubai.

"Over the last four years, this criminal group transported young women to the United Arab Emirates, and upon their arrival, took their passports and forced them to work as prostitutes," the judge said.

'Modern-Day Slavery' Prompts Rescue Efforts

Staff researcher Bobbye Pratt contributed to this report, The Washington Post, May 2, 2004

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Halla forbade Muka from bathing because "she did not want my germs in the shower," Muka wrote. Halla often slapped her and kicked her while wearing boots and shoes.  Once, Halla noticed a scratch on the baby's nose. "She pulled a knife out of the drawer and demonstrated pulling the knife across her throat as if to slice it," Muka wrote. "While she was doing this, she looked at me and said that if a scratch occurred again, she would kill me."  Halla confiscated her passport and told her "bad people" would hurt her if she ever left, according to Muka's statement. Muka said she imagined government officials tracking her down.

Department of Homeland Security immigration officials were able to track the diplomat, but he had returned to the United Arab Emirates.

As Many As 27 Million Worldwide Forced into Slavery

Feminist News, May 31, 2002 -- Resources: Anti-Slavery International, 5/27/02; UN Wire, 5/29/02; BBC, 5/27/02

[accessed 6 January 2011]

A Britain-based nongovernmental organization, Anti-Slavery International, released a report Monday showing that the number of people forced into slavery has risen to an estimated 27 million.

In addition, the report showed the trafficking of boys between to the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf States, continued slavery in Brazil, and inaction to free slaves in Mauritania.

Police officer arrested in connection with human trafficking

Hetq-online - Investigative Journalists of Armenia

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Officers continue to question women who fell victim to these two procurers. The number of Amalia Mnatsakanyan's victims keeps growing. But the trafficking in women for the United Arab Emirates continues.

Trafficking and forced labour of children in the United Arab Emirates continues

Middle East NGOs Gateway, United Arab Emirates, 30 October 04

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

ANTI-SLAVERY INTERNATIONAL CLAIMS UAE STILL USES CHILD SLAVES AS CAMEL JOCKEYS - In 2004, Anti-Slavery International sent a photographer to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) to photograph children racing and training in the Gulf state. The photographs prove that, despite the Government's repeated statements that this practice has stopped, it is still a problem. Two years ago, the Government announced that using children under 15 and lighter than 45 kilograms to race camels would be banned from 1 September 2002 and offenders punished.

Two Cases of Trafficking to the Emirates

Arpine Haroutiunyan, Hetq Online

[accessed 6 January 2011]

 “My friend Armenuhi deceived me” says Narine. “She promised me a well-paid job in the United Arab Emirates. So I went. Once I got there she took my passport and forced me into prostitution to make money for her.”

Armenuhi's brother drove Narine to the airport, and Armenhui met Narine when she landed in the Emirates. she immediately took her passport. Then her attitude changed dramatically. “She told me that I had to work as a prostitute or else I could stay there and rot,” says Narine. “She said I had to give her $10,000 to get my passport back.

Saudi Arabia/GCC States:  Ratify Migrant Rights Treaty!

Human Rights Watch, April 10, 2003

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Saudi Arabia and the other GCC states have a special responsibility to participate in all international efforts to guarantee rights and justice for this vulnerable population. Becoming parties to the migrant rights convention will signal the GCC’s willingness to help address a serious worldwide problem.

Dubai: Migrant Workers at Risk

Human Rights Watch, September 18, 2003

[accessed 6 January 2011]

Nearly ten million foreigners, most of them unskilled or semi-skilled migrants, work in Gulf states. Migrants comprise some 90 percent of the 1.7 million workers in the United Arab Emirates, where the World Bank will hold its meetings.

Despite their value to both their home countries and the societies in which they work, many migrant workers suffer from discrimination, exploitation and abuse. Migrants, including large numbers of women employed as domestic servants, face intimidation and violence, including sexual assault, at the hands of employers, supervisors, sponsors and police and security forces. Children are especially vulnerable to labor and sexual exploitation and denial of basic rights.

"Thousands of children are trafficked to the United Arab Emirates for use as beggars and camel jockeys," Mungoven said. "The World Bank can't claim to fight child labor in poor countries and then turn a blind eye when it crosses borders."

Sponsors and employers often confiscate migrants' documents, including passports and residence permits, restricting their freedom of movement and ability to report mistreatment. Migrants in the Gulf states typically can't obtain an exit visa without the approval of their sponsor or employer, sometimes placing them in situations that amount to forced labor.

Sexual Exploitation of Children on the Rise

Reuters, 01/09/2003

At one time this article had been archived and may possibly still be accessible [here]

[accessed 12 September 2011]

Boys, sometimes as young as 5, are sent each year from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to serve as jockeys in camel races.

Boys, sometimes as young as 5, are sent each year from Bangladesh, India, and Pakistan to Dubai and the United Arab Emirates to serve as jockeys in camel races.

Miller Addresses Modern Day Slavery

Maya Noronha, The Hoya, Georgetown University, Feb 21 2003

[accessed 28 August 2011]

According to Miller, the publication of a report ranking nations based on violations of human rights spurred progress in the battle against modern day slavery. The Office to Monitor and Combat Trafficking in Persons reports that the United Arab Emirates, ranked as having one of the worst records of human rights violations, instituted border controls, prosecutions and heightened protections for victims as a result of the report.

Business Is Booming for Slave Trade

Leela Jacinto, ABC News/International, May 15, 2002

[accessed 6 January 2011]

When Ibrahim Mohammad, now around 6 years old, fell off a camel in Dubai and fractured his shoulder last year, he says he broke into a sobbing fit and pleaded with his handlers not to strap him onto the back of a camel ever again.  But as he well knew, no amount of sniveling, whining or weeping could save him from the camel-racing track. There was a lot of money at stake, there were no adults who would intercede for him, and the skinny little Bangladeshi boy was just pushing his luck.  As a camel jockey in the United Arab Emirates' glitzy port city, Ibrahim was just a tiny cog in a vast, popular sports industry, and like the other 20-odd boys in his dormitory, he was a child slave. Protests were treated with a sound whipping with the sticks used for the camels, and then it was back to the races for the tiny lads.

Dying to Leave

Thirteen, New York Public Media, September 25th, 2003

[accessed 26 December 2010]

[accessed 26 December 2010]

COUNTER-TRAFFICKING EFFORTS - On paper, the UAE appears to be making progress in combating human trafficking. Inspections of private companies for enforced labor and blacklisting for violations are up; prosecutors and judges are required to study human rights, immigration, and labor law; biometrics are used to match work permits with permit holders.

But what the UAE says it has done to fight the use of juvenile camel jockeys conflicts strongly with reports compiled by outside, independent organizations. According to information presented in the 2003 U.S. Trafficking in Persons report, UAE government officials use DNA and medical tests to test the parenthood of those claiming supervision of child jockeys and routinely screen visitors at entry points into the country for children entering as jockeys. In September 2002, the government announced, to much fanfare, a ban on jockeys younger than 15 or who weighed less than 99 lbs. First-time violators are fined $5,500. Subsequent violations can lead to a one-year racing suspension and prison time.

The UN Human Rights Commission has noted, however, that the ban is essentially a restatement of a 23-year law that outlaws the employment of all child laborers. Prosecutions of violators of the ban have yet to occur, notes Anti-Slavery International. Video footage shot by the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in February 2003 showed that use of children for camel races still continues. After showing similar footage at an international conference, the International Labor Organization secured a visit to the UAE in late 2003 for further talks on the problem.

Statement by Mrs. Narcisa Escaler, Deputy Director General International Organization for Migration (IOM) at the United States - European Union Transatlantic Seminar to Prevent Trafficking in Women

International Organization for Migration IOM Statment in Lviv 1998, L'viv, Ukraine, 9-10 July 1998

[accessed 6 January 2011]

TRAFFICKING IN WOMEN - . Tatyana is 20 years old. She is from a small town in Lugansk oblast in Eastern Ukraine. It is impossible for her to get a job there, because most industrial facilities in town are idle. A friend of her mother proposed her a housemaid job for a rich family in the United Arab Emirates. She was promised a $4,000 monthly income there, while at home she could not find a job that paid even a tiny fraction of that amount. However, when she arrived in the UAE, she was stripped of her passport, sold to a brothel and forced to receive clients in order to repay the fees she supposedly owed to the owner, who bought her for $7,000. Her nightmare did not end even after she managed to escape: she was sentenced to three years' imprisonment for working in an underground brothel after she turned to the police for help. Now Tatyana is eleven months into her sentence. Her mother, who calls an IOM-sponsored telephone hotline periodically, is crying for help.

Concluding Observations of the Committee on the Rights of the Child (CRC)

UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, 7 June 2002

[accessed 6 January 2011]

[40] Despite noting some efforts by the State party, the Committee is seriously concerned at the hazardous situation of children involved in camel racing. In particular it is concerned that: sometimes very young children are involved; are trafficked, particularly from Africa and South Asia; are denied education and healthcare; and that such involvement produces serious injuries, even fatalities. It concurs with the ILO Committee of Experts on the Application of Conventions and Recommendations which has previously indicated to the State party that the employment of children as camel jockeys constitutes dangerous work under article 3(1) of ILO Convention no. 138, concerning the minimum age for admission to employment.

Human Rights Overview

Human Rights Watch

[accessed 6 January 2011]


Human Rights Reports » 2005 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, March 8, 2006

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – The government made significant progress toward eliminating the practice of trafficking in young foreign boys as camel jockeys, which until March had been a serious problem for many years. On July 5, President Khalifa promulgated a federal law that prohibits persons below age 18 from participating in camel races and subjects violators to imprisonment and financial penalties. The government also worked with UNICEF, source country embassies, and NGOs to rescue, rehabilitate, and repatriate approximately 1,034 children who had worked as camel jockeys. By year's end, an additional 39 children were in the remaining rehabilitation shelter awaiting repatriation.

During the year, there were a number of media reports of trafficking in women and girls into the country, especially to Dubai, for sexual exploitation. Observers believed that trafficking activity was conducted with the complicity of some of the women's citizen sponsors and by non-citizen traffickers.

Law enforcement, particularly in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, investigated reports of trafficking in women for prostitution. In 2004 and during the year, Dubai police closed 39 hotels in Dubai and several massage parlors and night clubs suspected of exploiting women for prostitution. Unlike in previous years, instead of summarily deporting women arrested for prostitution, the Human Rights Care Department housed in hotels all women who were victims of and could provide evidence about trafficking, until they could testify in trials against the traffickers. Victims who were unable to provide evidence were also assisted until they had acquired travel documents to return home.

Human Rights Reports » 2004 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices

U.S. Dept of State Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor, February 28, 2005

[accessed 11 February 2020]

TRAFFICKING IN PERSONS – There was an increasing number of media reports during the year of trafficking in women and girls to the country, especially to Dubai, for the purposes of sexual exploitation, although the Government pledged and took some measures to eliminate this practice. It was unknown whether these measures were effective. Often, women were brought into the country with false job offers in the hotel or medical sectors or as domestic servants, but upon arrival they were forced into prostitution. The traffickers, who almost always were citizens of the victims' home countries, reportedly seized their passports and forced them to work as prostitutes to repay their travel and living expenses, which quickly became unmanageable. However, the women received little or no payment for their work, which made it difficult or impossible to repay their debts. There were reports that traffickers commonly "sold" their victims to other traffickers, and the new traffickers held victims responsible for paying off the new, higher debt.

In July 2003, the Government banned the widespread practice of sponsors forcing workers to surrender their passports as a condition of employment. However, the practice reportedly continued to be widespread.

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Cite this webpage as: Patt, Prof. Martin, "Human Trafficking & Modern-day Slavery – United Arab Emirates (UAE)",, [accessed <date>]