Thousands of Palestinians May Lose Jobs in Dubai Crash

Analysts say the financial crisis will affect Palestinians working in Dubai as well as those in the territories.

Thousands of Palestinian workers in Dubai may lose their jobs due to the financial crisis there, economists project.

Over the past few months, thousands of the estimated 100,000 Palestinian laborers working in Dubai have lost their jobs. The Gulf state's economy is grinding to a halt, due to the huge international debts the country took on to drive its breakneck expansion coupled with the global economic crisis.

Last week, the Dubai government announced its flagship conglomerate needed a six-month halt to interest payments on $59 billion worth of debt.

Arab financial analysts said the crisis in the Gulf states, compounded by debts and falling oil prices, will affect the economy in the Palestinian Territories, where many families depend on money from relatives working in Dubai, primarily in construction.

Other Palestinians work as engineers, instructors and in technology-related professions in Dubai. Some have started construction businesses there, such as Arab-Tech, which was among the country's first victims of the financial crisis.

This recession resulted in the cancelation of building contracts and projects and sent the industry into a freeze, prompting many Palestinians to leave Dubai for neighboring Qatar - which last month injected $6 billion in fresh capital into its banking system to "restore confidence" in its own economy - and in Saudi Arabia. Some have returned to the West Bank.

One Dubai-based Palestinian businessman said Palestinians working in Dubai were generally "highly skilled personnel with long years of experience in their respective fields."

"Many West Bank families are losing their sources of income, as these people are no longer sending much money," he told Haaretz.

The sheikdom of Dubai, ruled by the Makhtoum family, has staked its future on plans to become the tourist, transport and finance hub of the Middle East, encouraging outsiders to buy apartments in the plethora of new tower blocks sprouting like poplars across the sand. But the international financial conglomerate Citigroup warned has warned that several Dubai developers have been caught in a severe squeeze, and their projects are increasingly unlikely to be finished.