Construction workers at the heart of Dubai's building boom are to be given the right to organise and form trade unions after unrest over pay and conditions.

The United Arab Emirates is drafting a law that will legalise unions and give collective bargaining rights. It is expected to be passed by the end of the year.

Ali al-Kaabi, the UAE's labour minister, said that one union would be set up with separate representatives for construction, fishing, agriculture and other industries. He added: "The law will control how strikes will be conducted. It will outline rights, the do's and don'ts."

The UAE's decision comes amid increasing tensions in the country, where there are up to 2.8 million migrant workers, mostly from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh and China.

About 2500 workers on Al Naboodah Laing O'Rourke's Burj Dubai project, which is to be the world's tallest building, broke computers and damaged cars and construction equipment in disturbances. Thousands of staff building Dubai airport also went on strike in sympathy.

It was the biggest protest yet to hit Dubai's construction industry, which has come in for heavy criticism for its treatment of staff.

The US-based Human Rights Watch highlighted squalid living conditions and said that the city's construction boom was "feeding off of workers in Dubai, but they're treated as less than human".

Al-Kaabi said that to link the construction boom with the recent protests was "devious, illogical and insane", according to the Al-Khaleej newspaper.