Unethical gold: How Dubai is complicit in exploiting West Africa’s youth in Mali

The Emirate state’s pursuit of being ‘biggest and best’ is fuelling a chain reaction of trafficking children and women toward Mali’s small-scale artisanal gold mining towns, writes Paddy Dowling

Friday 17 September 2021 09:32
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<p>A miner kneeling at the bottom of a deep shaft catches his glimpse of daylight before retreating along a tunnel which extends as far as 200 metres</p>

A miner kneeling at the bottom of a deep shaft catches his glimpse of daylight before retreating along a tunnel which extends as far as 200 metres

In recent years, the United Arab Emirates has positioned itself as one of the world’s fastest developing gold trading hubs. While its economy has always been underpinned by oil, tourism and real estate and property, gold has now become one of the largest exports for the emirate state of Dubai.

Dubai’s mission to future-proof life after oil may not be to everyone’s taste, but it has to be admired. Millions of travellers flock there each year to admire its marvels: the world’s tallest skyscraper, vast shopping malls, gold souks and so forth. They approve of the state’s ability to twist, pivot and dazzle. The performances are faultless. Dubai is tenacious, innovative and daring. But at what cost?

The UAE’s rapid rise up the global gold import rankings to fourth (trailing Switzerland, China and India) has ostensibly been accomplished by imposing minimal restrictions on imports. Often little or no proof of origin is required, and no questions are asked as to whether taxes have been paid to countries that have produced the imported merchandise. Mali is one of these countries, Africa’s fourth-largest producer of gold.

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