They are brought by bus into the city each day from their camps.
Visitors to the city are largely oblivious to the presence of the exploited workers, who build the hotels and shopping centres. Many of the workers put in 18 hour workdays.
Located outside the city, the camps are hidden from tourists. But on the outskirts of Abu Dhabi, turn right before the Zaha Hadid bridge and you are in the ghetto-like Mousafah where the workers dwell.
A typical meal consists of a few chillies, an onion and three tomatoes, fried with spices and eaten with a piece of bread.
In certain areas up to 20 men share a room. UN agencies estimate that there are up to 300,000 illegal workers in the Emirates.
fotos por Ghaith Abdul-Ahad