Archive for the ‘UAE’ Category

DPRK workers in UAE

Tuesday, December 29th, 2009

According to the Choson Ilbo:

Around 30,000 foreign laborers live in the camps on Reem Island. They come from all over the world, including Pakistan, Bangladesh and China. The North Korean laborers live in a part of the camp 400 m from the entrance. “Money was pretty good about three to four years ago, but now it’s tough to find work,” said one North Korean worker.

Around 1,300 North Koreans work in Abu Dhabi and Dubai, according to sources. Altogether around 6,000 North Koreans work in the Middle East, 3,100 of them in Kuwait. Some 800 work in the UAE and Qatar, with another 300 in Oman and 250 in Yemen. North Korea has been sending workers to construction sites in the Middle East so they can earn hard currency to send back to their impoverished country.

The movement resembles the exodus of South Koreans who came to the Middle East in the 1970s and ’80s to work at construction sites, but the main difference is that the North Korean government takes away the money its workers earn there. When asked about their wages, one North Korean worker said, “A lot of us have many years of experience working overseas as carpenters or welders and make between $150 and $200 a month, which is about the same as the Pakistanis make.” But those wages are what the workers keep after they have made their “loyalty” payments to the North Korean government.

One source in Abu Dhabi said, “North Korean workers make between $300 and $500 a month, but the North Korean government confiscates $150 and even $250 as loyalty payments, leading to a lot of conflict.” North Korean labor export companies skim off an excessive amount of money from salaries. The level of discontent recently prompted the North Korean government to dispatch security agents who trawl construction sites on weekends to provide ideological “cleansing” sessions to workers.

Since the construction industry in the Middle East fell into a slump due to the global financial crisis, North Korean workers have been resorting to other means to make money. The most common method is bootlegging in Abu Dhabi, where alcohol is banned. But that is a criminal offense that carries to two to three months in prison and deportation. “The North Korean companies that sent the workers abroad are aware of the bootlegging but are turning a blind eye as long as the laborers pay portions of the profits,” one local source said.

Some North Koreans leave the construction sites and work as handymen or build fountains for private homes. In August, a North Korean worker was deported after wandering into the home of a high-ranking police officer. “There was an incident early this year where a North Korean agent brought home a worker who was caught making critical comments about the North,” a local source said.

Additional Information:

1. Here is a link to the full story excerpted above.

2. Here is the approximate location of the North Korean workers’ camp in the UAE.

3. According to IFES:  North Korea established ambassador-level diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates on September 18, [2007]. A joint statement said the two countries aim to “enhance understanding and boost the links of friendship and cooperation between their two peoples.” Ties with such an oil-rich nation on friendly terms with Washington could be significant as the North moves to dismantle nuclear facilities.

4. This story highlights a strange DPRK-UAE-Unification Church connection.

4. Here is a link to a similar story about North Korean loggers working in Russia.

5. North Korean workers were recently deported from the Czech Republic.



Tuesday, October 2nd, 2007

Institute for Far Eastern Studies
NK Brief No. 07-10-2-1

North Korean and U.S. officials kicked off the month of September with meetings held in Geneva on the 1st~2nd. The bilateral talks focused on how to implement the February 13 agreement. After two days of talks, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill stated he is “convinced” the North will disable nuclear programs by year’s end, a timeline offered by the DPRK negotiators. North Korean press reported that the DPRK would be removed from the U.S. terrorism roster and sanctions imposed under the Trading with the Enemy Act would be lifted in return.

On September 7, Hill announced that North Korea had invited nuclear experts from the United States, Russia, and China to the DPRK in order to survey nuclear facilities and recommend dismantlement plans. The experts examined North Korean nuclear sites from September 11 to September 16.

On the same day, U.S. President Bush stated Washington would consider a peace treaty with North Korea in return for the North’s abandonment of nuclear arms.

On September 17 it was reported that North Korea had admitted that it had earlier procured materials needed to build uranium enrichment centrifuges. The admission regarded the import of 150 tons of hard aluminum pipes, enough for 2,600 centrifugal separators.

On September 20, the DPRK was removed from Washington’s list of countries producing illegal drugs. The North was added to the list in 2003.

On September 28, U.S. President Bush authorized 25 million USD worth of energy aid for North Korea. These funds could be used to provide the DPRK 50,000 metric tons of heavy fuel oil, equal to the amounts provided by China and South Korea as part of the February 13 agreement.

Two days of talks between North Korean and Japanese diplomats began on September 5 in Mongolia, with both sides expressing confidence that there would be progress. Wartime compensation issues were discussed, although Japan continued to link normalization of relations with kidnapping issues.

Following the talks, North Korea stated that kidnapping issues were resolved with Japan, while Japan stated that both sides reiterated existing positions. On the same day, Japan rejected a DPRK request to allow North Korean ships to dock in Japan in order to pick up aid for flood victims.

On September 30, Chief Cabinet Secretary Nobutaka Machimura said Japanese economic sanctions on North Korea would be extended for another six months due to “basically no progress” on abduction issues.

Reports began coming out of Israel in early September that reconnaissance flights over Syria had taken pictures of North Korean nuclear supplies and materials. Following Israeli air strikes, it was reported that Special Forces had entered Syria and confiscated material that appeared to be of DPRK origin. Conflicting reports stated that the facilities struck were missile storage facilities, rather than of a nuclear nature. North Korea has denied any nuclear cooperation with Syria.

North Korea established ambassador-level diplomatic ties with the United Arab Emirates on September 18. A joint statement said the two countries aim to “enhance understanding and boost the links of friendship and cooperation between their two peoples.” Ties with such an oil-rich nation on friendly terms with Washington could be significant as the North moves to dismantle nuclear facilities.

It was reported on September 4 that stock prices of South Korean companies engaging in inter-Korean economic cooperation have shot up on news that the DPRK will dismantle nuclear programs. This includes not only those companies operating in the Kaesong Industrial Complex, but also firms involved in providing electricity and other projects planned in exchange for the North’s denuclearization.

On September 20 it was announced that the ROK government plans to request a 50 percent increase for inter-Korean cooperative projects in next year’s budget. The Ministry of Planning and Budget will request 822 million USD for cross-border projects, as well as 580 million USD for humanitarian assistance.

On September 27, it was reported that the ROK government was reviewing a proposal to jointly develop Nampo, Haeju, Najin, Sunbong, Wonsan, and Shinuiju. The North has requested development of heavy industries, while South Korea seeks cooperation on light industrial projects.

The latest round of six-party talks opened in Beijing on September 27, with both the U.S. and DPRK negotiators promising progress. On September 30, talks were ended to allow delegates to return to their home countries to work on a ‘nuts and bolts’ joint statement. U.S. delegate Hill stated the delegates were close to agreeing on a definition of facilities, and that the proposed joint statement was very detailed. Before returning to Pyongyang, Kim Kye-gwan was quoted as saying that the North can report nuclear programs, but will not declare nuclear weapons by the end of the year. An ROK official stated that the North’s position was acceptable to Seoul. Negotiators are also thought to have agreed to begin removal of ten core devices from three nuclear facilities beginning in November. The joint statement is scheduled for release on October 2.

Acting UN Coordinator to the DPRK Jean-Pierre de Margerie stated on September 3, “The level of damage to infrastructure, to communications, to crops, to farmland and to households, is considerable,” but also pointed out, “The [DPRK] government has improved its level of cooperation by giving us unprecedented access to the field to conduct our assessments of the damage.”

Li Su-Gil, spokesman for the DPRK National Security Service, reported on September 5 that several foreigners had been arrested along with a number of DPRK citizens accused of spying for a foreign country; Specifically, for having “collected official documents and information on the DPRK’s important military facilities, and spread the idea of so-called democracy and freedom to the people.” The identities and nationalities of those arrested were not revealed.


Middle East mogul visits Pyongyang

Thursday, September 6th, 2007

Korea Herald
Jin Dae-woong

Mohamed Ali Alabbar, chairman of the biggest real estate company in the Middle East, visited North Korea yesterday, stirring speculation about his interest in a possible development project in the isolated country.

The Unification Ministry said the chairman of the United Arab Emirates’ state-run Emaar Properties PJSC flew to Pyongyang on his way to the Chinese coastal city of Dalian to attend a global business forum.

During the one-day stop-over, Alabbar visited a world peace center at the Pyeongchon district of Pyongyang, the ministry said. Sources said the visit also included a tour of hotels in the city.

Ahead of his trip to Pyongyang, Alabbar stopped in Seoul to receive an honorary doctoral degree in law from Sun Moon University affiliated with the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification. He flew to North Korea over the West Sea.

Alabbar is well known for his key role in transforming Dubai into a world-famous tourist city. He is a senior aide to Dubai’s Ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum and leads the Dubai-based Emaar Properties, the Middle East’s biggest developer by market value.