Mirage Tower (Dubai)
From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The Mirage Tower is a 96 storey, 380 m (1,246 ft) tall residential supertall skyscraper designed by starchitect Andreas Brand of Maric1 located in the Marina district of Dubai, UAE. Mirage Tower is the world's third tallest residential building, after the Princess Tower and 23 Marina. While originally scheduled for completion in 2014, as of January 2014 it was still under construction and the completion did not take place until beginning of 2016. Construction was started in 2009, and the project ultimately cost $4 billion (Dh14.6 billion).
The building comprises 679 units, 910 underground parking bays (spread over four floors), and twelve retail outlets. There are five gyms and twelve swimming pools in the building and all the duplex penthouses have private infinity pools. The building was completed and delivered by its developer, Ishtar Holdings, in February 2016.
The bus stop was nothing but a cracked square of pavement surrounded by desert. A metal plate that read “Assembly Point” was drilled to a post in the pavement and twelve men in brown uniforms gathered around the post waiting for the bus that took them back to the labour camp. Only a few of the men ever referred to the camp as “home” when speaking their native Bengali or Urdu. On their backs the name of the company that they worked for — Al Zabal Contracting & Irrigation LLC — was crudely printed, in letters that only three of the men were actually able to read but the logo of which they all recognized as the entity they belonged to.
Pieces of debris swirled through the sand where the workers stood: wrappers and discarded plastic containers tumbling forward, mimicking the rush of service workers about to head home. One such item — a business-card-sized photo of a young girl, the name “Lucy,” the words “24h Massage,” and a phone number superimposed over her body — cartwheeled past until it hit the round black toe of a worker’s boot. The Worker looked down at the girl, squinted until she became clear to him with her come-hither smile and silk nightgown, until another gust covered the card with sand and there was nothing left to see.
A drop of salty sweat slalomed down the Worker’s forehead, avoiding the evolutionary obstacles of eyebrow and lashes, to reach his eye in a brief, burning victory. He wiped it away with a knuckle and squinted into the horizon, hoping to see their bus, which was never on time.
Hope rose, an audible excitement amongst the workers, as a large vehicle turned into their street. It was a cumbersome maneuver that took several seconds which permitted the workers to discern that this was in fact not the bus that they were waiting for. Instead, this was one of the busses transporting the employees of the nearby shopping mall to the metro station. The bus stopped in front of the assembly point and a gaggle of Filipino shopkeepers, manicurists and waitresses emerged, walking past the workers as they did every day without even looking their way. They cackled excitedly as they talked about their families and husbands back home, the more brazen of them loudlydiscussed the lovers they had here in Dubai. Those among them who were still wearing their work clothes had not only their employer’s name printed or embroidered on their backs but also their own name pinned to their chest: Ruby, Sweety, Cherrylove. The workers of Al Zabal Contracting & Irrigation LLC did not have their own names written anywhere; they rarely needed to be singled out and if they did their supervisors could point, shout, grunt. You. Boy. Donkey.
The Worker, frustrated with waiting in the dull heat, turned almost in protest towards the other side of the road, where the road rose into the sky and became part of the swirl of highways upon which cars sped around the city, a never-ending flow contorting around various towers that emerged from the sand like giant glass cacti. One night, after a particularly grueling shift, the eternally optimistic Mamun had told every worker who would listen how proud he was of their work. He had made a dramatic sweeping gesture to encompass all the buildings in the distance and spoke with the same affected voice with which he recited his poetry. All this was theirs, he’d said, they had been the ones to build it. Mamun was no longer with them.
A dusty white car stopped by the curb and turned on its warning lights as a tall man in short-sleeved shirt and dark dust-caked trousers exited the vehicle., He gave the driver a thumbs-up of gratitude before he slammed the passenger door shut. The young man began walking the unpaved path to the station while the white car indicated its way back into the road and was soon indistinguishable from any other car. And in the sand, where the man had gotten out of the car, something. A phone. A dropped mobile phone. The Worker’s hand shot up to catch the man’s attention but his intended exclamation, a “hey” or a “sir,” remained in his throat. Abdul-Waheed asked him what was wrong, as the Worker’s hand remained in the air. The man had by now almost reached the metro station and had not noticed he was missing his phone. The Worker gestured to his groin and said pishab to which Abdul-Waheed laughed and told him this wasn’t school, he didn’t have to raise his hand for permission to take a piss.
The Worker hurried over to where the phone was, its glistening metal emerging from the sand like the tip of a newly discovered pyramid. He knelt down, pretending to tie his shoelaces, and managing to slip the phone into his trousers. A lot of the labourers sewed pockets on the inside of their uniforms to stash away a few cigarettes or some coins, but the Worker was not very handy with a needle so he would have to rely on the elastic of his waistband to keep the phone in place. He imagined how much he could get if he sold it, the sum of 300 dollars appearing in his mind, a sum he dismissed as quickly as he dared to imagine it. God willing, he would be able to sell the phone and there would be some extra money to send back to his family at the end of the month—there was no need to be greedy.
A commotion broke out at the assembly point. The bus was coming. The Worker ran back, a hand placed on his abdomen to prevent the phone from slipping, and got on the bus, squeezing between the rows and slumped down by a window at the very back, as he’d been doing ever since the driver had stopped turning on the A/C. He was joined in the back by Rakib, a quiet, filthy sort who mostly ate onions and had the body odour to match. By the time the doors folded shut in the jerky, crude manner of the broken wings of an insect, both men were asleep.
The bus moved slowly, merging into Sheikh Zayed Road, the spine running through Dubai. They drove down the highway from the future back into the past, vertiginous curved skyscrapers that gradually shrank into uninspired four-storey slabs of concrete. The evening prayer emerged from the static of the driver’s radio, sounding as distant and unclear as God himself.
But the Worker barely noticed any of this. His head slowly dipped and quickly rose as he drifted in and was jolted out of sleep, when a rectangle of light blinking underneath his clothes, accompanied by a sharp, loud vibration startled him. He woke, his senses suddenly acutely focused. He pulled the phone out from his trousers, its screen now lit with the photo of a smiling man, the word HOME in white across his forehead. The Worker pressed every button, held everything down and prayed a desperate, jumbled prayer until the vibration stopped and the screen faded to black. The Worker looked over to Rakib, knowing that whatever proceeds would come from selling the phone now had to be shared with him, but found, praise be to God, that Rakib was still asleep.
The bus turned into the industrial area in Al Quoz 2 where their camp was located. A hand-painted sign that the bus managed to barely scrape under announced its name: PARADISE VILLAGE. It, like Sunlight City to its right and Beautiful Living to its left was comprised of three identical four-storey buildings that had been built by the very contractors who would later house their workers there. Those who had been with Al Zabal Contracting & Irrigation LLC the longest joked that had they known they were building their own home, they might have done a better job.
Each building was painted a new colour every year to cover up any cracks, mould or water damage (this year, Paradise Village was mint green), with eight identical rooms per floor, each room contained four steel bunk beds and two shared bathrooms per floor. The Worker had been amazed, when he first arrived at Paradise Village, to find that not only was there running hot water, but the water would remain warm even after several people had used the showers. He had never before seen such luxury. Not even Salar, by far the wealthiest man in his village back home, had constant access to hot water.
While the Worker usually had a cigarette before dinner, this day he rushed to the dining hall, grilled his tomato and onion and sat quietly next to his colleagues, placing his paper plate on a few newspapers spread out on the floor. He ate quickly with his right hand, picking a few triangles of bread from the communal basket to wrao around his vegetables, and then retired to his room, barely having spoken to any of the others, prompting them to ask each other if something was wrong with the Worker. He took off his worker’s uniform, folded it under his mattress and put on a kurta before putting his blanket by the foot of the bed. Then, after making sure nobody was coming through the door, he slipped the phone into the folds of the blanket. The blanket that the company provided them with was too warm and coarse to sleep under but it was useful as a hiding place or to preserve some modesty if one was inclined to masturbate. This the Worker could hear two, no, three others doing that night. The Worker was usually bothered by these sounds but the excitement of finding the phone filtered out everything else that night. He thought of all the things that he would be able to buy for his son and the conjured toys and clothes and smile on the boy’s blurry face lulled the Worker to sleep.
Dubai Flat in Mirage Tower up for sale at Dh39m
May 5, 2016
An apartment in the newly completed Mirage Tower has hit the market priced at Dh39 million (US$10.6m).
With Expo 2020 looming, Dubai’s rental caps have been lifted, giving developers and owners alike a chance to test the appetite for luxury properties in Dubai. The Mirage apartment is on the 96th floor and includes the highest residential infinity pool in the world.
"There is only one of these units in the world and buyers know this, we have no doubt that this is a price that the market can stand,” said Christoph Sockel, an agent with Imhotelux who is marketing the apartment. “The developers spared no cost in the construction of this tower”, he continues, “‘when building the private beach for the building it was noted that the natural sand in Dubai was too coarse and not up to the highest standards, so they flew in 1,000 cubic yards of the smoothest sand from Egypt. That is the kind of attention to detail and VIP amenities that a prospective buyer can expect from this property.”
Sales of Dubai's most expensive apartments have been picking up in recent months, agents say, driven by the influx of wealthy expatriates from the rest of the Middle East who are looking to invest in the one country that is not mired in regional warfare. Apartments in Dubai routinely sell for Dh10m these days, and trophy apartments in the top towers are hard to come by, justifying their premium.
Mr. Sockel declined to offer any details of the owner of the Mirage apartment, except to say he is a chief executive of a Saudi-based company. He never visited the apartment, the agent said.
Mirage Tower was completed by Ishtar Holdings earlier this year and is listed in How to Spend It as the third most desirable address in the world.
Once a week, the Worker’s wife would travel from their village into the centre of Chittagong to the closest internet café where she would pay the owner for an hour’s talk time to the UAE. And so, every Tuesday night they would speak: her voice metallic and cut-up into syllables sprinkled across time, his often echoing back to himself. Every so often the delay in the call would become so pronounced that they would be replying to different questions altogether, their timelines out of sync, like they themselves increasingly were.
His son was now almost a year old and the last time that the Worker had been home was when his wife had become pregnant. He was supposed to be able to travel home once a year but the company kept their passports and only handed them over to issue the yearly ticket when they were on schedule, which was rarely. He had a photo that his wife had sent, but it had been taken when the boy was newborn and he had no idea what the child looked like now despite many requests that she send him a more recent picture. The photo had now faded under his thumb, bent into a cracked topography under his pillow where it lay next to a small Qur’an. Whenever his wife would call, he insisted to talk to his son and even when the boy did nothing but cry (which was often—the other women would complain to the Worker’s wife that they couldn’t hear their husbands over the child’s wailing), it filled him with immense joy.
On the Tuesday after the Worker found the phone, the Worker told his wife that his employer had given him a bonus. Moved by the pride that he heard in his wife’s voice as she praised God, he made himself comfortable sitting down on the ground behind Paradise Village Building 2 and wove a wild, elaborate yarn about how he had saved his employer both time and money by suggesting an alternative way of setting up the scaffolding. He was amazed at how easily the lie came to him and how his words—mere words after all—could conjure in his wife such happiness. He promised his wife that he would send them a little something extra at the end of the month.
The truth was that he had yet to try to sell the phone that he had found: he didn’t know how much to ask for the item, let alone whom to approach. The only one he knew who could possibly help him was the foreman, who had an expensive phone himself and, if nothing else, would know the value of such an item. But the Worker didn’t trust the foreman—he was petty and often cruel and thought himself better than his countrymen because he spoke English. The Worker’s preferred solution, then, was to go to one of the retailers in any of Dubai’s many malls, but in the two weeks since he’d found the phone he had been forced to work on both Fridays, usually his one day off, as the project was facing delays.
The call was disconnected before they had a chance to say good-bye. The Worker’s wife would pay for an hour but the owner of the internet café rarely added an hour’s worth of talk time to her account. The Worker and his wife wondered aloud if the other was there and, realizing that they weren’t, hung up, both feeling somehow that the conversation had done nothing but irritate existing wounds.
He remained sitting on the ground and stared into the lavender sky that was sliced into diamond shapes through the high fence that separated their camp from the next. The Worker saw another person leaning against the building across from him, the bright orange of a cigarette bursting on the ground like a faraway bomb. The Worker wished that he, too, had a cigarette. The sun set, quickly, leaving in its wake nothing but darkness.
He walked back, passing a throng of workers who had squeezed in the space between two of the buildings to smoke cigarettes or make a quick phone call before it was time to sleep. One of the workers lined up against the wall was Abdul-Waheed who was whispering clandestine nothings into his mobile, a sure sign that he was calling his prostitute. All the workers in Paradise Village knew of her. In fact, most had her number saved in their phones, but Abdul-Waheed had been the one to discover her, as he liked to remind everyone, and so she was referred to camp-wide as Abdul-Waheed’s prostitute. If one were to call the number, an old Filipino woman would arrive within the hour, purse filled with bibles, toilet paper, prayer beads and colourful condoms. She would pull up behind the camp (where there was a man-sized hole in the fence that kept re-appearing no matter how many times it was repaired) in a big, expensive car—a car she was proud to mention she had found abandoned at the airport when all the westerners ran away in 2009. It was in this car that she would perform fellatio for a hundred dirhams and full intercourse for two hundred dirhams. This was much too expensive to partake in on a regular basis—a hundred dirhams, almost thirty dollars, was the price of a visit to the doctor or an eighth of a monthly salary. But rare was the worker who hadn’t indulged in calling her at least once.
One month, after drinking too much contraband liquor, a clear thing that came in plastic bottles and cost less than a Coca-Cola, the Worker got Abdul-Waheed to call the prostitute over for a blowjob. When the Worker transferred money back to his wife that month he told her that he wasn’t able to send as much as usual because he had had to pay for a doctor. Despite promising him that she wouldn’t tell anyone, he soon received calls and messages wishing him good health from his entire family, most of whom depended on his salary. He later found out that they had all pooled together and sacrificed a sheep for his health. The Worker found himself seething, furious at his wife for betraying his trust and furious at himself for having paid for a wretched crone who had wound up costing him almost an entire month’s salary, as the money for the sheep sacrificed in the name of his health had been purchased with the money he had sent back. He swore to himself that he would never call upon her again.
The previous month one of the workers from Sunlight City had travelled home for his yearly holidays and upon his return he brought back a sack of bulgur that he had distributed between the three camps as a gift. The Worker had not eaten anything other than tomatoes, peppers and onions for months and ate his bulgur slowly, making each mouthful last, in a sort of trance. The newspapers spread across the floor, with their oil-stained ads for infinity pools and luxury watches were of neither interest nor importance to him. It wasn’t until he had finished the day’s meal that he rested his eyes on the grains of bulgur scattered across the newspaper like constellations, and there, sticking out from under the pot, he saw the phone—his phone. It was advertised with a red star and 3,899 dirhams written next to it. The Worker made a quick mental conversion to US dollars, a task at which he was usually very adept since his family’s livelihood depended on him not getting scammed, but these numbers were too large to be true and he doubted himself. He rushed back to his room where he scrawled numbers on a piece of paper then double-checked by using the calculator function on his own phone. One thousand sixty dollars. Over three months’ salary. He had to burn the piece of paper with the the calculations, the very numbers on it too large, too incriminating to be numbers that he would ever have any use for. That night he couldn’t sleep and woke up Abdul-Waheed to get the prostitute’s number, intending to call her for full intercourse.
“What’s gotten into you?” A sleepy Adbul-Waheed asked, taking out his phone so that the small stamp-sized blue of the screen light up their faces. It was a question that he repeated a few hours later in the bus towards the site, as he remembered how Abdul-Waheed had never let him hear the end of it the last time he called that number. The Worker shrugged, a smile daring to creep over his lips. It’s only money.
Location: Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Development: Mirage Tower, Dubai Marina
Bathrooms: 7 (4 ensuite)
Built up area: 17,200 sq. ft.
Pool: Private Infinity Pool. 8 community pools in the building free to access.
View: Full sea view
Other: Furnished, maids room, study room, storage room, games room, balcony, dry pantry, office kitchen, marble flooring, windows floor to ceiling, library, alarm system, smart home technology, jacuzzi, 3 parking spaces, steam room, sauna, private VIP gym and 4 communal gyms.
Asking Price: AED 39,000,000
Description: Mirage Tower offers penthouse-class apartments in three configurations: Presidential Apartments offering 6,100 sq. ft. of living space; Royal Apartments with 13,440 sq. ft. and The Super Penthouse with 17,200 sq. ft. All are constructed and finished to the highest possible international standards and come complete with state-of-the art integrated smart home system that allows full control of lighting, temperature and multimedia from any room. All residents in Mirage Tower benefit from private valet parking, access to the landscaped rooftop garden, in-house laundry and dry-cleaning, and 24-hour concierge service.
For the first time in over a month, thanks be to God, they had been given a Friday off. Most used the day to get some rest, shielding themselves from the sun using the heavy company-issued blankets, while others brought out an array of items that could function as bats and balls to play cricket. To actually leave the camp, while officially allowed, was not encouraged. The Worker, wearing the kurta that he had slept the night in, with the bulge of the phone in his trouser pocket covered by his top, had to explain to his roomates that rather than spend the day bowling against the team from floor 3 of building 1 as he usually did, he wanted to have a look at some of the sights, a statement that was met with baffled amusement. Don’t say that to the guard, he’ll think you crazy, someone warned. Best just say you’re going for a walk.
The Worker braved the long walk from the buildings to the camp’s entrance, arousing the guard’s suspicion well before the Worker even reached it. The guard prodded his baton into the Worker’s chest and asked, again and again, where the Worker was going. If he was going to take a walk, why didn’t he just do so around the camp? The Worker was only allowed to leave after several minutes of interrogation, with the warning shouted after him that he better be back before curfew.
The Worker walked for an hour until he reached the nearest metro station. His shoes were caked with sand and his skin was coated with sweat by the time he reached the glass doors from which emerged gusts of soothing chilled air. Again he was stopped, this time by a police officer on a break, smoking a cigarette outside the station. The officer’s open palm first made the Worker think he was looking for a bribe, until he realized that he had to show that he had enough money for the fare. The police offer looked intently at the coins in the Worker’s palm before letting him proceed.
The train took him past towers that glimmered gold and emerald, tall peacocks fighting over the attention of onlookers. He realized that he had never seen these buildings graced by sunlight and basked in the sights, pretending not to notice when a woman with a large child and an even larger handbag pulled the child close to her and away from him.
Disaster had struck earlier that week. He had known something was wrong when his wife called him not on a Tuesday but on a Sunday. Their son was sick and the village doctor had said that he needed a test that cost the equivalent of two hundred dollars. Disaster was always on the verge of striking: a year’s worth of savings was always a phone call away from being obliterated. So far, at least, they had managed to avoid being in debt, for which the Worker was ever so grateful.
On the phone the Worker’s wife began crying, wishing that she were dead and saying that she had failed her husband, blaming herself for the child’s health. The Worker, quickly making calculations, tried to reassure her: she should get a second opinion from another doctor. He waited until his wife stopped sobbing and began listening to him, agreeing with what he was saying. Yes, maybe he was right. She then wondered—that bonus that he had mentioned when they last spoke—how much was it? How much extra money could they expect? The question made the Worker unreasonably angry. He knew she hadn’t said anything to make him feel this way. In fact, he often went to bed furious at his wife for pestering him about money when upon waking up he would see that there was not a barrage of nagging texts as he had remembered but rather just the one message, ever so innocuous in the reasonable light of day. His wife wondered if he was still there. The Worker touched the gold-plated metal frame of the phone that he had kept on him at all times ever since he found out how much it was worth. He said that he would be able to send $500 more than usual this month, and that he would get his salary by next week. He heard his boy crying in the background, a different sound from that which he usually bore witness to during these calls. His son wasn’t crying out of boredom or annoyance, but because he was in pain. The Worker closed his eyes, hating himself. He made sure that his voice was stable before telling his wife to borrow the money from Salar. His voice echoed, the call dropping in quality.
There was a silence then, long enough that the Worker took his phone to verify that time was still ticking on the call, that she was still on the other end. Eventually his wife voiced his earlier argument, that maybe the child would get better, that maybe the doctor had no idea what he was talking about. They could wait a week, if that’s all it took before the month’s salary arrived. The Worker, incensed at this point, ordered his wife to talk to Salar. The Worker was good for the money, he told his wife, Salar has his word. She should tell Salar that, the Worker insisted, that he had his word.
The long winding conveyor belt finally spat him out at the top floor of the Dubai Mall, a maelstrom of lights and sound at its entrance, a collection of smaller logos forming the giant logo that was Dubai.
To see the deep plummet of shops upon shops, to realize how many of his villages could fit inside this structure, made him feel dizzy. He looked down to the ground floor and saw women in great colourful dresses swirl around a lit platform to loud, thumping, music. They were surrounded by posters of a beautiful woman and a perfume bottle named JOY. The Worker was moved by the extravagance of the show, and thought that one day he would show this to his wife and son—he would show them all of this.
He eventually found a store that sold phones and wandered inside, hovering around the employees until he overheard someone speaking Urdu. The Worker approached the man behind the glass counter, caressing the display in which a row of phones were housed on transparent stands like levitating jewels. The prices on small stickers all confirmed what the newspaper had told him days ago—the phone he had found was far more valuable than he ever could have imagined. The man behind the display was nervous, quickly erasing any trace of the Worker’s hand with his sleeve. Please go, the employee told the Worker, his eyes darting around the shop in fear of a supervisor. Please.
The Worker took out his phone and placed it on the glass counter, claiming he would like to return it. The employee looked at the device with suspicion and squinted at the Worker, trying to assess the situation.
Receipt? The Worker, confused, shook his head no. The employee shrugged. Can’t help you, if you don’t have receipt. Company Policy. Those final two words in English. The Worker asked if there was anywhere he could go, to which the employee shrugged once again. Sure, there were shops in the old part of town. They might be able to help. Now leave. Please. The Worker wanted to get more information but he was pushed out of the way by paying customers. The Worker went to several other shops, only to hear the same words: Company Policy.
Families were walking around him hand-in-hand, slouching to one side at the weight of their shopping bags. He remained the rare person with empty hands.
On his way back to the metro station he passed the women in the colourful dresses who were now spraying perfume on passers-by. The Worker stretched out his wrist, but the woman ignored him, reached out to a blonde woman instead, the perfume bottle between her thumb and index. “Joy?” she offered, “It’s new.”
In the long tradition of promotions during the Dubai Shopping Festival, luxury developer Ishtar Holdings is giving away a car with properties purchased in its flagship Mirage Tower during the month-long festival.
While Ishtar Holdings is renowned for staging some of Dubai’s most elaborate promotions, including giving away luxury apartments and even a private jet, the developer has not had a promotion of this scale since the financial crisis in 2008.
“This isn’t a gimmick, there’s no catch, it’s a simple promotion aimed at driving sales by adding value.” said Spencer Fillon, spokesperson for Ishtar Holdings.
The make and model of the car given to each buyer is contingent on the value of the property. There are seven Lamborghini Gallardos reserved for Presidential penthouse apartments within Mirage Towers, Ferrari Enzos for the three buyers of a Royal penthouse and for the lucky buyer of the unique Super Penthouse, a Rolls-Royce Wraith will be given.
“We have a wide range of exceptional residential properties in top-end towers all over Dubai which already offer phenomenal value, but with the added bonus of coming with a brand new, free car, we expect our sales to increase well during the Dubai Shopping Festival as people take advantage of our extraordinary offer.” Fillon added.
“Demand for quality properties in Dubai is already strengthening, so we are very excited about the additional effect that giving away a brand new car will have on buyer behaviour” he continued.
Ishtar Holdings is a high-end, luxury-focused, bleeding-edge developer. Having delivered many of the Middle East’s most iconic residential properties, the developer is bullish in their vision for the region in the 21st century. Ishtar Holdings is well capitalized and remains a unique investment opportunity for all types of investors.
The Worker stared out the window of the bus taking him to work where a row of beautiful developments was being observed by happy men and women in clusters of four—mother, father, son, daughter. They were all perfect smiles, and looked nothing like any family the Worker had ever seen. Buy a piece of the dream, it said above a group of houses set around a beautiful lagoon. Call Ishtar Development or visit us on www.ishtar.ae. One gleaming tower—quite like the tower they were working on—acted as a backdrop to the words Buy a penthouse during Dubai Shopping Festival and get a Lamborghini Aventador Free!. One glittering tower, featuring the highest standards in luxury living, was peeling off the billboard, revealing the giant torso of a beautiful woman. Beauty is now for sale, the text on her perfect flesh said. Where the line of billboards for these upcoming developments ended, there was only desert behind them, the location where these buildings would one day stand, where the dream to be bought was still just sand.
His phone vibrated. His wife. He let it go to voicemail, as he had done for the past two days.
At the site, t he Worker was tasked to pour the concrete on the 96th floor. This was usually one of his preferred tasks, as it was one of the less physically challenging jobs, but it did require a concentration he did not have today. His first pour had a slight curved edge, a mistake that was almost impossible to rectify, and his attention slipped when he was meant to flatten the concrete and get any air out of the mix. He was lucky to avoid spilling the concrete on himself, causing burns that had led to more than one worker being fired and deported. When it was finally time for the lunch break—usually an opportunity to take a quick nap in the shade—he instead paced the site back and forth, worrying. He knew that he was supposed to have repaid Salar two days before and he also knew what Salar’s two sons did to people who didn’t pay on time. His phone rang again. He switched it off.
After leaving the mall last week to attempt to sell the phone in the old part of town, he had found that all the shops had been closed due to it being Friday. The Worker had been wandering around praying someone would be open, as Fridays were the only day he could possibly go there, but was met with metal roller shutters everywhere he looked. He thought of pretending to be sick during a workday but he would never get past the camp guards if he was supposed to be bedridden. He had even asked the foreman, pretending a friend of his had a phone like his, if maybe the foreman would buy it off him to which the foreman had just laughed. You, donkey? Friends? The foreman then offered five hundred dirhams for the phone, to which the Worker had objected that it was worth almost ten times that. Not to me it isn’t, the foreman had shrugged.
He had no other choice than to wait until next Friday, praying every night that he would have the day off instead of being forced to work, but Friday was still three days away, and he kept imagining everything that could happen to his wife and son in that time.
It was a short work day, a mere fourteen hours before the foreman blew the whistle and the workers shuffled down the building structure to wait for their bus.
The Worker fidgeted but, after a while, switched his phone back on. He had seven missed calls. A text message appeared, pls call. urgent. He imagined Salar’s brutish sons knocking on his door, entering his house. He looked back, away from the corner where the bus would appear, and towards the sea where he knew people lived in lavish apartments. They were the type of people who could easily afford such a phone. His own phone vibrated again. He began walking in the direction of the Marina, first tentatively, then in what was almost a jog. Some of the other workers called after him, knowing how much trouble they would all be in if he didn’t get back to camp by curfew but the Worker, now in a full sprint, was too far away to hear, too far gone to listen. He could find someone at the Marina, he was sure, and sell the phone. Maybe not for as much as it was worth, but a few hundred dollars at least, surely at least three or four hundred dollars, and then rush back before the bus even came to pick them up. Or if not, the money he got from selling the phone would be more than enough to take a taxi and then he’d send the rest back to his wife, cover his debt, set everything right. It could be done. It had to be.
He turned behind the metro station where the owner of the phone had disappeared into almost a month ago now and crossed the bridge that led to the Dubai Marina. Streets twisted around cafés and restaurants, beautiful people having dinner, oversized sunglasses covering their faces even though the sun was about to set. Runners wearing bright colours and strange rubber wristbands swarmed around him, on their way to nowhere. The Worker saw their sweat shining, enhancing their beauty, so unlike his own sweat that was now coating his underarms, his chest, his back.
As the Worker reached the stretch of shops and cafés known as the Walk, he acutely felt this was not a space meant for him. He saw all the beautiful people: white, shiny, glorious. Their tongue the high rich lilt of fluent English. He had in his possession an item worth a lot of money, an object of desire to these people, but all acted as though he were invisible. He began showing passers-by the phone, hesitantly at first, then more openly. Want buy? They all shook their heads and hurried past him as though he were begging them for money.
One man pulled away from him as though he had made an indecent proposal. “Thousand dirham,” was all that the Worker had said. “OK?” The man looked at him with disgust. This wasn’t the sort of item someone like the Worker should be holding. The man barked something at him, and the Worker hurried away, tears pricking his eyes. He was now sure he would miss the bus—he’d been here for almost thirty minutes. His own phone buzzed in his pocket, his wife trying to reach him again.
Once one of Salar’s sons had broken every finger of a neighbour’s child’s hand. One finger for every day the payment was late.
The Worker, hearing a commotion behind him, looked back and saw the man he had just offered the phone to talking to a police officer. The Worker kept walking ahead, as though he had not seen anything, until he heard it.
"Stop." He glanced back, praying that the command had been intended for someone else, but the police officer was now hurrying, eyes fixed on him. He was the one they wanted. “Thief,” he heard. “Stop.” The Worker looked to his right—a shop selling coffee—then to his left, the beach leading to the sea. He began to run in the only direction available to him, shedding his sandals with a kick as he reached the sand, his pace slowed down as he trudged towards the sea, which gleamed under the setting sun. He heard the grumbling roar of a vehicle and in the corner of his eye saw a buggy speeding towards him. He threw the phone away in the direction of the buggy—maybe if the police got it they would leave him alone.
The water looked like a sheet of liquid gold, he thought, that would envelop him and protect him, if only he were fast enough, if only he could reach it before they reached him. The giant sun almost wobbled, as though it were barely stuck in the sky, threatening to come off and plunge into the now almost unbearably bright shimmering sea. The Worker thought of his wife back home, waiting for his call. If only she could see this, he thought, if only she could see all of this.