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Champ of the Camp

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Joined: 11 Apr 2007
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 12, 2014 9:42 am    Post subject: Champ of the Camp Reply with quote

The living and working conditions of construction workers in the Gulf have been the source of much controversy of late. Just how tough are they?

Several foreign journalists and documentary-makers have paid fleeting, illegal visits to the region's labour camps. Their reports have been damning. Now, though, teachers - such as ourselves - may have been granted the rare chance to watch a documentary that has been shot within several labour camps over a substantial period of time with the approval of the authorities. Its conclusions appear to be less clear cut than those of previous reports.

"Champ of the Camp" debuted at the recent Dubai Film Festival. And now, crucially, its Lebanese director, Mahmoud Kaabour, hopes to roll out the distribution of this movie across the Gulf region from this February onwards...

Hugh Bonner reported in "TheNational" (May 12th 2013) that...

"Construction workers are an ever-present part of the landscape of the UAE. Most days we see them toiling on building sites, we overtake their buses on the motorway, or wander past them in parks. But while we may share the same physical space, it’s an uncomfortable truth that few of us have any interaction whatsoever with them.

To redress this unfamiliarity, the Dubai-based Lebanese filmmaker Mahmoud Kaabour decided to make these labourers’ lives the subject of his latest documentary, Champ of the Camp.

His portal into their world came through the Western Union Camp Ka Champ, an annual Arab Idol-style knock-out competition, organised by Right Track Advertising, to find the best singer of Bollywood tunes among the blue-collar workers who inhabit the UAE’s labour camps.

Last year, the sixth edition of the event attracted about 2,000 entrants from almost 100 camps in Dubai, Sharjah, Abu Dhabi, Ajman, Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah – all vying to win glory, fame and a sizeable cash prize...

And the "Guardian" has reported on the making of the movie "Champ of the Camp", too...

"Were conditions shocking? Kaabour stresses that the filmmakers did not want to moralise; he wanted the voices heard to be those of the labourers: "Many told us they are here by choice; others were excited that the camps have running water, they had come from slums in India. The whole comparison that has been applied to the camps suddenly shifted, as labourers compare them to their home countries. But even those who are happy don't have an easy life. The camps help an entire economy in the subcontinent of Asia, but it doesn't make them a pleasant experience." And what did the camp champ do, after his win – any diva behaviour? "The first thing he bought was a couple of torches, because they don't have power back in his village."

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