top of page
  • Writer's pictureLiz Totton

The Spidermen of Abu Dhabi

brunch in abu dhabi

Someone here is always brunching somewhere while others work

The unsung heroes of abu dhabi spiderman

Behold, the amazing spiderman!

While expats brunch on lobster tails, steak, wash it down with the finest bubbly and marvel at how any humans could get a window so sparkling, their 24K gold Ferrari ever-so-shiny, or a garden in the desert so verdant, laborers from all over the world toil away to make certain this capital city is as clean, shiny, green and new as we all have become accustomed. They are the unsung heroes of Abu Dhabi and deserve a shout out. I will try to give each a shout out from week-to-week. I’ll start with the spidermen of Abu Dhabi. 

Most workers labor outdoors in the oven-like heat of summer. I blogged about these men in a post entitled “A tale of two Abu Dhabis,” which I wrote some time ago. You see them everywhere from the cold comfort of your window. They are usually hot and sweaty as you might expect but, in my experience, quick to smile if you greet them first, unaccustomed as they are. Some don’t love their pictures taken, but who does when you are not photo-ready?!

Working together at great riches

Working together at great heights

Today, I want to shout out the acrobats of Abu Dhabi: the Spider men. Some may call them window-washers, but I think they are daring, good-spirited and circus-like dudes. Lately, we have been receiving warnings about whence they might appear in a window near you, but that wasn’t always the case. I recall being very new to our high rise and walking into my bedroom, fully clothed–thank some higher being–only to find a man dangling by my window holding his squeegee as one might a white flag. Gasp, and What the expletive! He then raised his hand to me in an “I come in peace” style, and I smiled back laughing. He laughed back through the window. This must happen to the danglin’ dude 20 times every day! The Spider men of Abu Dhabi regularly dangle from great heights on thin ropes precariously ensuring our high-rise windows are perfectly sparkling.

The Unsung Heroes of Abu Dhabi- Spidermen

There’s F1 in the background!

What I want to know is are these guys trained to do any kind of work at such great heights, or are they just naturally agile with reflexes so feline they are comfortable working at any height. Alternately, do they just arrive here from whence they came given an assignment and expected to do it? I have heard this is the case. I cannot imagine what it might be like if heights were NOT your thing and this position was assigned to you. 

I read and often write posts about the grandeur that is the UAE all the time. From 24K gold everything to lobster tails to upscale shopping, this land is wont for no sort of luxury imaginable. You may have gathered already that I this really is an amazing place to live for many. But, for others, this country offers a harder, hotter and more onerous existence; one in which fellow human beings don’t always recognize you as the “same” or seemingly as some kind of “other” from somewhere else. Alternatively, I see these hard-working professionals as daredevils, risk-takers, acrobats, and sometimes even entertainers. They known it’s unusual to be hanging 80 floors up on an Etihad Tower and when people want to take their photo, they mug. Wouldn’t you?

Unsung heroes of abu dhabi spidermen

How you can help the needy of Abu Dhabi.

If you are interested in helping the hard-working laborers of Abu Dhabi, grab a box! In September and October, you can pick up a box at many area Abu Dhabi locations and fill it with the provided shopping list, then return it to the same collection spot. The Box Appeal will then collect and disperse the boxes to the laborers with the help of the help of the Red Crescent. This may seem like a small gesture, but it makes a big difference to these hard-working individuals who send most of the income home to their families and are left with very little for themselves to live on. While some expats do very much live here to brunch, others want to make a difference, and I will you a few more ways in posts to come.

Thank you, Emma Easter, Lynn Berry Leinecka and Pam Bowe for graciously donating their photos of these acrobats. 


bottom of page