ME/NA/SA FUTURISMS MENASA FUTURISMS :: 1 - Page 30

Human Rights Watch author, "there is no path to permanent residency or naturalization in Gulf countries, aside from marrying a citizen", leaving migrant workers with little to no civil rights or means for acquiring them. 18 This lack of representation is surprising because in 2010 “migrants comprised more than 43% of the region’s total population.” 19 Towards the end of 2006, initial steps were taken to allow for construction of unions in the UAE , however, as of now, their formation remains illegal. According to Azfar Khan, the senior regional migration specialist at the ILO Regional Office for the Arab States, kafala was meant to be, "a good system that makes it incumbent upon nationals to look after non- nationals.” Much of the evidence we have, however, indicates that this system is not working because abuses by employers and complaints from workers are generally ignored. Without major transformation of the kafala laws, countries will continue to import and exploit cheap labor in order to remain competitive and relevant in the global economy. There is a severe discrepancy between the futuristic facade of the Gulf’s rapid expansion, and the morbid foundation of neo-slavery it is built upon. Modernization as we know it is inherently flawed, and the use of futurism as a platform for short-term gain comes at the long-term expense of human lives. This reality forces us to re-think our definition of development, true futurism and the fundamental terms upon which wealth is created. We need not only reset the balance between a profitable industrialized nation and a humanitarian one, but to completely transform the operating economic system. If the rate of economic development is not balanced with the rate of political or social progress, the institutions in place will not be able to absorb public outcry, opening the door for public dissent and potential workers’ revolts. When more capital is accumulated by a nation, people begin to demand more personal and civil rights, and if those rights cannot be met by existing participatory institutions, there will inevitably follow instability and even violence. 15 As wealthy nations in the Middle East attempt to keep up with global superpowers, lapses in responsibility are becoming apparent. Rather than adopting the policies of a West that has built itself through enslavement and colonization, countries of the region must focus on protecting the rights of foreign workers and securing their political representation. Differentiating themselves from a path of exploitation and alienation