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Highest Position In The World - Babu Sassi Crane Operator

Summary:
Email claims that Indian Babu Sassi, a crane operator working on the construction of the Burj Dubai, the world's tallest building, lives inside the crane's cabin because it takes too long to come down each day (Full commentary below).



Status:
Unsubstantiated

Example:(Submitted, February 2009)
Subject=:WHO IS IN THE HIGHEST POSITION IN THE WORLD? - scroll right to the end

Do you know who is in the highest position in the World?

President George Bush?

NO!

Pres Elect Barack Obama?

NO!

UN Secretary General?

NO

Pope Benedict?

NO!

Max Caddis?

Wonder No Longer...

Babu Sassi, a fearless young man from southern India is the cult hero of Dubai 's army of construction workers.

Known as the "Indian on the top of the world", Babi is the crane operator at the world's tallest building , the 819-meter Burj Dubai. His office, the cramped crane cab perched on top of the Burj, is also his home. Apparently it takes too long to come down to the ground each day to make it worthwhile. When the building is completed, its elevators will be the world's fastest.

Stories about his daily dalliance with death are discussed in revered terms by Dubai 's workers. Some say he has been up there for more than a year, others whisper that he's paid 30,000 dirhams ($8,168) a month compared with the average wage of 800 dirhams a month. All agree he's worth it.

Crane at Burj Dubai



Commentary:
This email forward discusses Babu Sassi an Indian crane operator working on the Burj Dubai, a skyscraper that is now the tallest building in the world. According to the message, Babu, who is supposedly revered by his coworkers for his skill and daring, actually lives in the cabin of his crane because it takes too long to come down to the ground each day. The message also claims that, in comparison with other workers in Dubai, Babu is extremely well payed for his dangerous work.

While Burj Dubai is certainly a real project and the yet unfinished building is indeed the tallest in the world, it is currently unclear if the other claims in the message are accurate.

Most of the text of the email is apparently taken from a longer article by journalist Louise Armistead. However, Armistead does not specify sources and, so far, I have found no other credible references that confirm the claims in the story.

A worker named Babu Sassi quite possibly does operate a crane on the Burj Dubai site. However, I am yet to find a reference to him that is not derived from Armistead's article. According to an information chart detailing the wage structure for Indian workers employed in the UAE, crane operators have a minimum wage of 1800 dirhams per month, which is quite a bit more than other workers. It is possible that an especially skilled crane operator working at such unprecedented heights might receive considerably more than 1800 dirhams a month, but 30,000 sounds a little unlikely.

It is also conceivable that Babu does stay in the crane overnight, but the rumour claiming that he has lived in the cramped space of a crane cabin for over a year sounds farfetched to say the least. Moreover, the claim that Babu lives in the crane because it takes him too long to come down to the ground each day is also farfetched. The site employs thousands of workers (7,500 skilled workers as of June 2008) many of whom presumably work high atop the building. And many photographs of the site, including the one that comes with the email, show multiple cranes at work so Babu is certainly not the only crane operator working there. Thus, like any other high-rise construction, Burj Dubai must have safe and efficient methods of moving workers, including crane operators, up and down the building. So, there seems no reason why Babu could not descend with other workers at the end of his shift. Moreover, research indicates that, like other construction sites in Dubai, work on the tower continues 24 hours a day. Presumably therefore, Babu would need to vacate his "home" to make way for other operators lest the cab become very cramped indeed!

Big construction jobs have always generated their fair share of urban legends and tall tales and this might well be one of them. That said, without more concrete information, it would be premature to declare these claims about the legendary Babu's sleeping arrangements and salary as false. Perhaps Babu does earn a small fortune and sleeps in his crane cab. Stranger things have happened. If you know any details about Babu and his work habits, please add a comment below or send me an email.

Meanwhile, work on the massive project continues. The building is set to be completed in late 2009.



References:
High-flying economy to give itself a nosebleed?
MINIMUM WAGES FOR DIFFERENT WORKERS
Burj Dubai
Burj Dubai - The World's Tallest Skyscraper

Last updated: 19th February 2009
First published: 19th February 2009

Write-up by Brett M. Christensen

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