Millions of migrant workers flood to the Middle East from some of the world's poorest countries in search of paid work they won't find at home.
But for some, the journey doesn't end as they hope. Instead, they become victims of human trafficking, forced labor and sexual exploitation.
A report released Tuesday by the International Labor Organization paints a horrifying picture of migrant workers who find themselves trapped in appalling conditions without any way to get out.
"Our research team interviewed hundreds of workers and their experiences independent of country were very similar, actually," Beate Andrees, the report's author and head of the ILO's Special Action Programme to Combat Forced Labour, told CNN.
"They were lured into jobs that either didn't exist or that were offered under conditions that were very different from what they were promised in the first place," she said.
Data is scarce, but the ILO estimates as many as 600,000 people may be victims of forced labor across the Middle East.
That equates to 3.4 in every 1,000 of the region's inhabitants being compelled to work against their free choice, the ILO said.
The study, titled "Tricked and Trapped: Human Trafficking in the Middle East," is based on more than 650 interviews done over a two-year period in Jordan, Lebanon, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
More than half of those interviewed for the study were migrant workers, the ILO said. The others included employers, government officials and representatives of employers' and workers' groups in the Middle East.
"Labour migration in this part of the world is unique in terms of its sheer scale and its exponential growth in recent years," Andrees said. "The challenge is how to put in place safeguards in both origin and destination countries to prevent the exploitation and abuse of these workers."
Low-skilled migrant workers are the most vulnerable to human trafficking and forced labor, whether at the hands of unscrupulous agents or individual employers, the report states.
"Victims of trafficking usually have limited financial resources, incur debt and are poorly educated," it says.
"At the same time, many are resilient and courageous women and men, who are aware of the possible risks of exploitation but, impelled by the lack of viable job opportunities at home and the pressing needs of their families, have nevertheless made their individual decisions to travel abroad in search of work."
Confined, beaten, raped
Domestic workers are particularly vulnerable because their isolation in private homes, without inspections, makes them more vulnerable to exploitation and forced labor, the ILO said.
Among the conditions they may face are: being denied proper time off; being confined to their place of work; being placed under surveillance; being made to live in degrading conditions, like sleeping in a kitchen or hallway; or having their identity papers confiscated or wages withheld so they can't leave.
In more extreme cases, they may be subject to physical and sexual violence.
A Filipina domestic worker in Lebanon told the ILO she was caught after trying to escape by climbing out over the balcony.
"My employer broke my elbow and then tied my hands behind my back. They left me one day long in my room and put a camera there. He threatened me: 'I'll accuse you of stealing money and ask for my money back, and they will throw you in jail!'" she is quoted as saying.
Another Filipina domestic worker interviewed in a detention center in Kuwait told the ILO that her employer had raped her.
"I went to the doctors and filed a complaint at the police, and then returned to work the next day. He reported to the authorities that I had run away, and the police arrested me," she said.
"My employer tells me that if I drop the rape charges, he will make sure that I am not deported."
Even where anti-trafficking laws exist, prosecutions are few, so "there is little to deter others from confining migrant workers in exploitative situations against their will," the ILO points out.
Meanwhile, those who are coerced into sex work within the entertainment industry face a "real" risk of violence, detention or deportation, the report said.