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UAE EXPO 2020 and image washing

Expo 2020 is scheduled to be a World Expo to be hosted by Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, originally scheduled for 20 October 2020 – 10 April 2021. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the United Arab Emirates, the new dates are 1 October 2021 – 31 March 2022.

The emirate of Dubai hopes Expo 2020 will attract an estimated 25 million visitors, stipulate its economic growth and improve its public image. Yet few days ahead of the Expo’s launch, migrant workers in the UAE continue to suffer exploitation and abuse including late or non-payment of wages, curbs on their mobility, unsafe working conditions and heat stress.  

Construction workers, who represent an estimated 34% of the total workforce in the UAE, are among the most vulnerable as construction companies fail to safeguard migrant workers rights. 

The country has one of the most restrictive press laws in the Arab world, researchers wrote. Additionally, “local human rights activists are at serious risk of detention, prosecution, and mistreatment.

Human rights defenders and members of their families are subjected to forced disappearances, prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, judicial harassment and unfair trials, travel bans, physical and digital surveillance, and arbitrary dismissal from work.

Activists have been suppressed and even prosecuted and jailed for tweeting on social media, especially after the law on cyber crimes, which criminalizes those who criticize the regime and rulers.

The United Arab Emirates State Security Service has been committing crimes of forced concealment over the course of years of repression and persecution of anyone who attempts to oppose or express the opinion of the ruling regime

The absence of “judicial” justice has led to the arrest of dozens of Arab citizens and residents for their political opinions and criticism of the authorities.

The investigation conducted by French NGO Forbidden Stories and its media partners showed that Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) was using Pegasus spay way to unlawfully infiltrate the devices of social activists, journalists and opponents since 2016.

The European Parliament has called on the United Arab Emirates to immediately release three prominent human rights defenders and urged EU member states to boycott next month’s Dubai Expo in order to “signal their disapproval” of rights violations.

In the adopted resolution, the parliament demanded the “unconditional release” of Ahmed Mansoor, as well as all other Emirati political activists and dissidents. In order to signal their disapproval of the human rights violations in the UAE, the European Parliament invites the international companies sponsoring Expo 2020 Dubai to withdraw their sponsorship and encourages member states not to participate in the event, the resolution said.

Human rights organizations said that Government of the United Arab Emirates has adopted a series of whitewashing tactics to cover its terrible human rights record, and one of the leading routes is the Dubai Expo 2020.  The vote of the European Parliament urging European companies and member states to withdraw from this exhibition is a victory for human rights in the UAE, Europe and everywhere.

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