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inspiring work on this exciting project. Finally, I wish to thank my interlocutors who
opened their hearts, homes, and lives to me.
Parts of this chapter have been published as an article entitled “Race, Space, Place:
The Racialization and Spatialization of Sex work in Dubai.” In Culture, Health and
Sexuality . A few parts also appear in P. Mahdavi, Gridlock: Labor, Migration and Hu-
man Trafficking in Dubai (2011, Stan-ford University Press).
1 . All names have been changed to protect the identity of the respondents.
2 . For an excellent discussion of racializing Muslims, see Rana (2010).
3 . The official definition of trafficking as outlined by the United Nations Protocol to Prevent, Sup-
press and Punish Trafficking in Persons, Especially Women and Children is:Colloquially,traffick-
ing is defined as instances of force, fraud, or coercion.
4 . For an in-depth discussion of ways in which the wars on terror and trafficking conspire to produce
racialized Muslims requiring intervention, see Rana (2010) or Mahdavi (forthcoming).
5 . For an excellent discussion of the rescue industry please see Agustín (2007, 2008) or Sodurlund
6 . Ibid.
7 . I place “trafficking victims” in particular in quotations to indicate the arbitrary nature of “victim-
hood.” I do not deny that trafficked persons are often subjected to unscrupulous and criminal fig-
ures, and that migrants, trafficked or not, often are victim of macro-and microinstances of violence
and exploitation. I am wary, however, of the term victim , because of the unequal power dynam-
ic that is implied. By positioning trafficked women as “victims,” the attention and power is then
shifted to “rescuers,” who set the terms for who gets to “count” as a victim and what they are un-
derstood to be a victim of. For an in-depth explication of the politics of the rescue industry see
Soderlund (2005).
8 . Dubai is not the only place where the kefala or sponsorship system governs the rules and exper-
iences of guest workers. In fact, many of the Gulf countries have this same system in place. In
these countries, the kefala system is problematic in that residence in the country is predicated on
the sponsor-employer. Scholars such as Andrew Gardner have argued successfully that this system
imposes a type of structural violence on migrant workers in the Gulf (see Gardner 2010). For do-
mestic workers, the kefala system presents particular challenges in that while they are held to the
rules of the sponsorship system, they cannot benefit from the protections of said system as their
work is relegated to the “private realm” and there exists a specific clause in UAE labor laws that
domestic workers are not protected by labor laws that protect construction or other migrant work-
ers ( ). Domestic workers in many parts
of the world face the dilemma of what scholar Rhacel Parrenas has termed “partial citizenship”
(Parrenas2001).However,domestic workersandmanyothermembers oftheinformal economyin
theGulfexperience addedchallenges ofnotbeingabletoseekoutrecourseforchallenges incurred
during their time as domestic workers due to a lack of formal structures in place to protect their
rights. For an excellent discussion of domestic work in the Gulf see Longva (1999), Silvey (2004),
or Gamburd (2000).
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