Silt and mud cover the land around damaged homes following two days of storms in the eastern Yemeni province of Hadramaut on October 25, 2008. (KHALED FAZAA/AFP/Getty Images)
The Big Picture, by far the best blog for photojournalism geeks, posted some photographs of the recent flooding in the country of Yemen. In case you don't know, the Republic of Yemen (الجمهورية اليمنية) is an Arab country located on the south-west corner of the Arabian Peninsula. The floods started on October 23rd, and were a result of the 2008 Yemen Cyclone, aka Deep Depression ARB 02/2008. At least 1,700 homes were reported destroyed, along with 180 deaths and over $1 billion USD in damages.
The ancient city of Shibam is seen in this aerial photograph in the southeastern Yemeni province of Hadramaut, October 28, 2008. (REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah)
The mystical city photographed here is the ancient city of Shibam (شبام), famous for its mud brick tower houses which are between 5 and 11 stories high. Known as the "Manhattan of the desert," the town was threatened by the major flooding, though it remains largely intact with the exception of a few houses which unfortunately toppled over.
One month ago, guardian.co.uk posted a story about the human labor behind the massive construction in the UAE's favorite larger-than-life province. Dubai is known as the home to many recently broken world records involving architecture. It also happens to host the most construction cranes in the world. Sandy deserts surrounding the main city have "forced" city planners to build upwards (and into the ocean, but that's a whole different story). While most tourists and travelers to the city awe at the architecture, nearly all fail to notice the sprawling labor camps set up on the city's outskirts. Kept away from the eyes of the public, these workers come from every corner of the Middle East and India. As The Guardian states, "Like hundreds of thousands of migrant workers, they each paid more than £1,000 to employment agents in India and Pakistan. They were promised double the wages they are actually getting, plus plane tickets to visit their families once a year, but none of the men in the room had actually read their contract. Only two of them knew how to read."
The profound photographs attached to The Guardian's investigative article open a portal into this unknown world, where countless individuals work for little pay in a world governed by the wealthy. Their passports are seized by the labor companies, and they are prevented access to even the most basic of healthcare. Though Dubai might host some of the world's most phenomenal sights, the untold story behind these wonders is one of sorrow and despair. Things may be changing, as conditions have actually improved in recent years, though not by much. You can read the entire article here.