Gridlock: Labor, Migration, and Human Trafficking in Dubai

Article excerpt

GRIDLOCK: LABOR, MIGRATION, AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING IN DUBAI

Pardis Mahdavi

(Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2011), 264 pages.

In Gridlock, Pardis Mahdavi explores the social issues of labor migration in Dubai--a topic less visible than those that make up the daily headlines on the Middle East. The book is a mix of Mahdavi's personal experiences in the Emirate and a scholarly discourse on trafficking policy and its associated political pressures. Peppered throughout with the stories of labor migrants from a variety of backgrounds and working in a diversity of sectors, the book aims for both breadth and academic depth. The former goal works ultimately to the detriment of the latter, as Mahdavi retreads the same ground several times. Nevertheless, the book serves as an important look at a key international issue from a perspective that policy makers may be ignoring.

Current U.S. policy regarding the issue of trafficking centers on the State Department's Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report--the government's "principal diplomatic tool to engage foreign governments on human trafficking." Mahdavi's central thesis relates to her opinions on the use of this report which, at the time of her writing, was primarily used as a diplomatic tool for leveraging political bargaining power against countries such as Dubai with a "known" record of poor human rights. …