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The Middle East @ Work

A lot of glitter in Dubai’s gold market

Kai Ryssdal Mar 11, 2008
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The Middle East @ Work

A lot of glitter in Dubai’s gold market

Kai Ryssdal Mar 11, 2008
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TEXT OF STORY

KAI RYSSDAL: Greetings once again from Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. I’m Kai Ryssdal. We are here this week to look at the Middle East at Work. Today is the 11th of March, everybody. The calendar says it’s Tuesday. And it is for you and me. We are still a ways from the weekend. For migrant workers here, though, the Filipinos and South Asians who are building this city, it’s actually the 4th day of their working week. Friday’s their day of rest — their only day off. So they try to make the most of it. Often that’s a trip to one of the souks down near Dubai creek. Markets where you can buy everything from spices and textiles to gold.

SALESMAN: This 22 karat one grams — 109.75.

It took me a minute to figure out what he was saying, but that’s 109.75 dirhams per ounce about 30 bucks American. 22-carat gold is the real deal by the way. It’s darker than we’re used to back home. It’s heavier too. These guys kind of look down their noses at the 14-carat stuff. The stall was cramped, maybe five feet by ten, and crowded with workers.

SALESMAN: For interview it is better if you come tomorrow because today is Friday, there’s the labor customers.

If you didn’t catch that he said we have the labor customers. As in get outta here you’re scaring away my business with that microphone. The business of this city right now is to grow. To get more people to come here to set up offices, invest, and to build. And that is why we’re here. Because the world is coming. Those workers and how they spend their savings are important to the guy running that gold shop. They are nothing less than crucial to this city.

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