زوّارة الجمعة

Friday Gathering

Faisal Al Fouzan

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Friday Gathering is an in-depth exploration of the living conditions of low-income migrant workers. They reside in extremely humble accommodations that border high-end neighborhoods and landmark architecture. These workers literally live on the margins of society, but play a key role in shaping and maintaining its physical environment.

Since the oil boom in the 1970’s, Kuwait has relied on a growing workforce in all sectors. To meet this growing demand, Kuwait relies heavily on migrant workers who often existing outside of labor laws. According to Human Rights Watch, migrant workers constitute 2 million of Kuwait’s population of 2.9 million, including more than 600,000 domestic workers.

Kuwait

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2012 - A view of Kuwait's financial center from the rooftop of a building in Sharq, where migrant laborers live in low-income housing.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2013 - An old house set in a prime location in the commercial district of Salmiya will soon be demolished. Many migrant workers live in old, ramshackle, and decaying buildings scheduled for demolition.

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JELEEB AL SHUYOUKH, KUWAIT. 2014 - Poorly maintained and dangerous wiring are common in many buildings housing migrant laborers as new cables are added at random.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2014 - Raja, 30-years-old, from Rajasthan, India works as a car mechanic. Here in deep sleep minutes before getting up for his 12 hour shift in a repair shop.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – The main meal of an Iranian who works in the local fish market. Fish constitutes most of his diet as he gets it for free.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 - Jamal Jadallah, a construction worker from Qina, Egypt. He has work in Kuwait for the past 22 years.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 - Ali Ahmed, a 23-year-old construction worker from Sohag, Egypt, relaxes after a long day of manual labor.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – Reflection of Al Sanabil tower, one of the tallest office buildings in Kuwait.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2012 – Old house in Kuwait City with 65 rooms that accommodates more than 300 low-income migrant laborers from different countries. Its big yard and corridors has been converted into makeshift shared bedrooms, kitchens, and communal bathrooms.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – The satellite dishes provide access to television channels from laborers’ home countries, serving both as a literal and emotional connection to their homeland.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2015 – A street vendor visiting the buildings where migrant workers live to sell random items.

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MIRGAB, KUWAIT. 2013 – Laundry waiting to be picked up by an affordable laundry cleaning company.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 —Husain hangs his whole wardrobe above his bed, which is the only space he has to himself. Husain came to Kuwait from Bangladesh nine years ago with the hope of being a muezzin, a man who calls the faithful to prayer from the mosque. When he arrived, he couldn’t find a job. He has been a painter and a blacksmith, and has cut aluminum and mixed and sold fragrances. He now he works as an office porter.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – Photos of Jameela and Al Ameen, the children of Ismail from Bangladesh, hang on the wall by his bed. He works as an office boy. He sees them once every two years.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – A group of workers from India gather on the first day of Eid Al-Adha. While eating traditional sweets, they discuss the news about Israeli soldiers preventing Palestinians from Eid prayers at Al Aqsa Mosque.

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HAWALLY, KUWAIT. 2014 – A portrait of Jesus Christ by a bed.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – Mohammed Saber, a house painter from India drinking tea.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2014 – Futoor of Pakistani workers that consist of fruits mixed with yogurt.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2014 – Toothbrush and tongue cleaner.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2014 – Courtyard of a house near Kuwait City that has been converted into makeshift shared bedrooms, kitchens, and communal bathrooms.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 – Some workers grow plants for food as well as decoration.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2014 – Exposed and overloaded electricity wires usually lead to power cuts or fires in the buildings of migrant laborers. Many of the buildings housing migrant workers are overcrowded and do not have the necessary electricity to serve so many users.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – A Indian visiting his relatives in Kuwait on a family visit visa.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 – Symbols of Hindu worship in a laborer’s room. Kuwait is a Muslim country but its laborers come from diverse religious backgrounds including Christianity, Hinduism, and Buddhism as well as the various sects of Islam.

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BNAID AL QAR, KUWAIT. 2014 – Due to the large number of laborers inside some buildings, a cottage industry in freelance services has grown up with home cooked meals, tailoring, cleaning, haircuts, and shaves all available.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – Seventy-year-old Sayeed came to Kuwait 40 years ago for a job in construction. As he aged, he could no longer do the hard manual labor so he took a job as a watchman and cleaner for a migrant worker’s house.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 – Bangladeshi Mohamed Kayes, 34-years-old, used to work as a satellite technician but after the shop where he worked for eight years closed down, he found a job as a lorry driver. Now he picks up goods from warehouses and drops them off to different supermarket branches. Jamal (praying) also from Bangladesh, works as a porter in a super market.

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SHARQ, KUWAIT. 2014 – Most migrant laborers work six days a week for very long hours (often 10 to 12 hours and many have second jobs). Most are too exhausted for anything else but sleep on their day off.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 — Ali Ahmed is a 23-year-old construction worker from Sohag, Egypt. Before coming to Kuwait, Ali worked in a resort by the Red Sea. He came from a conservative village. He told me “Women in my village do not leave their homes without permission, and are fully covered. I could not stand working where I had to serve women in their bikinis.” He left the resort without getting his last pay check.

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SALMIYA, KUWAIT. 2014 – Mohamed Kayes shows messages between him and his 28-year-old wife, Nezmat, who lives in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Faisal Al Fouzan

Kuwait

Faisal Al Fouzan is a self-taught photographer from Kuwait. He finds inspiration from art in all its forms and considers the camera an extension of his self. His work focuses on Kuwait’s urban and social landscapes, making visible the marginalized people, architecture, urban decay, and banal objects of everyday scenes that usually go unnoticed.

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