A Pakistani businessman is giving free shelter to homeless migrant workers in Dubai. Within a month, businessman Ali Rao has given free accommodation to hundreds of migrant workers of different nationalities in Dubai.
He first came across the news of 25 homeless Pakistani migrant workers forced to sleep by the roadside in Dubai. He found these Pakistani workers sleeping in a park. Hence, earlier this month, he sent his staff and company workers to pick them up and place them in a temporary shelter in a company home. Only 14 of the 25 migrant workers agreed to go to Ali Rao’s staff. But then more people arrived as soon as the word spread.
Combating #coronavirus: #Dubai-based Pakistani businessman offers free accommodation during #Covid19 crisis https://t.co/hTP44FOQme
— Khaleej Times (@khaleejtimes) June 16, 2020
In the next phase, nearly 35 men reached Ali Rao for temporary shelter. Following them, another batch of 31 Pakistani workers sleeping on the roadside for two weeks moved into the temporary shelter of Ali Rao.
Read more: Stranded Pakistanis in UAE await PTI government’s help
Since the beginning of June, Ali Rao has expanded his temporary facility to three. Hundreds of migrant workers of different nationalities are staying in these shelter homes. Ali Rao has a business in industrial housing and real estate. His company is operational for seven years in Dubai.
Pakistani businessman accommodates migrant workers
“At first [when we went to pick them up] they were hesitant and thought they were in trouble but they are settled in now,” Rao told an Arab media outlet. Most of the homeless people he has housed recently lost their jobs. They are seeking repatriation, Rao said. Adding that plane tickets to get back home cost more than most of them could afford.
“So I will also try and contribute [for their tickets] along with a few other businessmen,” he said. “But until they can leave, they and anyone else who does not have accommodation are welcome to use this place to stay.”
Combating coronavirus: Pakistani businessman in Dubai offers free stay to Covid-hit residents https://t.co/RU9a5uNsUd pic.twitter.com/IZdfxfG0xe
— UAE News (@UAENews) June 16, 2020
The temporary shelter can accommodate six men in a single room of the house. Moreover, various charity organizations provide meals for migrant workers. Also, these organizations carry out background checks and coronavirus diagnostic tests of those seeking accommodation.
Read more: Pakistan opens Afghan border despite corona threat
“They are also provided with a bed, a pillow, and a blanket; in other words, necessities including a Wifi so that they can connect with their families back home,” Rao said.
Further efforts to support migrant workers
In an interview with another media outlet, Khaleej Times, the Pakistani businessman who is helping the migrant workers from Ghana and India as well said he has the option of 100 more accommodation facilities.
“We have already placed 25 such men in these housing options spread across Al Quoz, Jebel Ali and Muhaisnah areas of Dubai,” said Pakistani businessman Ali Rao.
“If you put yourself in their shoes, we cannot spend a night in the park, that too in the summer season. That very thought inspired me to take up this programme for workers,” he said when asked about why he launched the initiative.
“One of our companies – the property management division – deals with industrial housing accommodation. We decided to put this space to good use when I came across media articles that highlighted the plight of these homeless men,” he said.
“The ongoing pandemic has hit everyone hard, especially those with no security to fall back on. The economic and income disparities have only increased in this time, with those dependent on daily wages being rendered homeless in massive numbers across the globe.”
Repatriation of migrant workers
Meanwhile, authorities in Pakistan are working tirelessly to ensure the repatriation of stranded Pakistan including tourists and migrant workers in UAE and other Gulf countries.
Hundreds of Pakistanis repatriated from the Middle East last have tested positive for COVID-19.
Pakistan brought about 20,000 nationals home in May. A large number of unskilled workers in Gulf nations lost jobs as lockdowns slowed economic activity.
Of the 2,069 Pakistanis returning from the Middle East to the southern province of Sindh, more than 500 tested positive for the coronavirus.
Covid-19: Stranded Pakistanis in Dubai stage protest outside Pakistan consulate | Track LIVE Updates on the coronavirus pandemic here – https://t.co/VzOSNNlQdW pic.twitter.com/mvCkxtgJ8W
— Economic Times (@EconomicTimes) April 12, 2020
According to the foreign office, about 4.5 million Pakistanis work in the Middle East. In addition to the 20,000 who have already come back. Around 110,000 more overseas Pakistanis have registered a desire to return home. Pakistan has been chartering flights to bring back stranded nationals, as commercial flights into the country have been halted. Laborers in many Gulf nations live in crowded dormitories or work camps where social distancing is impossible
Pakistani’s workers in the Gulf
Over the past three decades, Pakistan has been a major labor-sending country to the Middle East. Estimated 1.9 million Pakistanis are working in the region since 2004. Despite significant annual fluctuations over the period, Pakistan has in recent years seen an annual migratory out-flow of more than 150’000 workers to different countries in the Middle East, but primarily to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE).
There are several important dimensions of labor migration from Pakistan to the Gulf region.
Read more: Hundreds of Pakistanis repatriated from the Gulf tested positive for COVID-19
The data shows that more than 60% of migrating Pakistanis originate from only 20 of the country’s 110 districts. Third, the majority of migrants obtain their foreign employment contract either through private Overseas Employment Promoters (OEPs) or obtain a direct visa.