Abu Dhabi Louvre and Guggenheim Outposts Still Have Human Rights Problems
According to the Human Rights Watch, the United Arab Emirates, reforms haven’t done enough to end the exploitation of migrant workers building a high-profile project including branches of the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums. In the 82 page report, Human Rights watch stated that they believe that Emirati authorities have taken “positive steps,” but workers still face abuses including working without pay and benefits, confiscated passports, and poor housing accommodations. Consequentially, if workers go on strike, they face deportation.
This report is the newest edition from international rights groups to bring the Gulf Arab region into the spotlight. These Gulf region countries are very wealthy, and they rely on an estimated 5 million low paid, temporary migrant workers to do the “blue-collar” work of the region. The Tourism Development and Investment Company, which is backed by the Emirates government, is rejecting the report from the Human Rights Watch, calling the “outdated and based on unknown methodologies.”
The “Employment Practices Policy” previously set out standards for companies involved in its projects and has built a facility that is supposed to house employees for all of its contractors and subcontractors. Spokespeople from the Louvre, Guggenheim, and a remote NYU site claim that rights are top priority. However, the 113 interviewed current and former laborers who worked on the project between 2013-2014 all disagree. They state that employers “held their passports and did not reimburse them for recruiting fees they paid.”
This article really gave me a slap in the face as far as human rights is concerned. I have heard of the poor working conditions in UAE, and I truly thought that there were vast improvements being made. According to this article, the conditions are improving, but not as quickly as they should be. I can only imagine what the migrant workers are going through, basically working as slaves to the Emirati officials, living in terrible conditions, and working without pay or ability to leave. They can’t even go on strike to defend their rights as humans. If they do, they face deportation. They are basically caught in a paradox. They are talked into moving to this beautiful, wealthy country, and offered a salary that cannot be competed against in their home country, so they sign up. Once they get to UAE, the conditions are poor and they are not paid for their work, as they were promised. Their passports are confiscated and they cannot leave of their own free will. They are stuck in a bad situation, and it is necessary for a bigger power to step in. The Human Rights Watch is helping the migrant workers gain their rights, slowly but surely.