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New Report Details Mistreatment of UAE's Saadiyat Workers

On October 1, 2012

A recently published PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) report evidences widespread employer misconduct in the Saadiyat Islands projects. Saadiyat is a multi-purpose luxury destination complex currently being constructed off the coast of Abu Dhabi by the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC). The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority is the TDIC's sole shareholder. The project is of particular international concern as prominent foreign institutions, including the Louvre and the Guggenheim museums, intend to establish branches on the new properties.

PwC interviewed over 1300 workers in the process of their assessment. They documented several widespread violations of UAE-specific and international law, which also contradict the TDIC's attestations to worker welfare. The misallocation of recruitment, visa, and travel fees to migrant workers, "illegal salary deductions" and substandard housing conditions are amongst the TDIC's most conspicuous transgressions.

PwC also uncovered instances of direct government misconduct:

“The revelation that a government-owned development company offered to pay contractors to meet standards based on UAE law rather than sanctioning contractors who violate those standards reveals the parlous state of the UAE’s labor system and the inefficacy of its legal framework,” Stork said.

Commenting on the report, HRW stated,

The PwC report underscores the urgent need for reform of the UAE’s legal and regulatory framework, which facilitates the abuse of the country’s four million migrant workers, Human Rights Watch said. Migrant workers who do not work on high-profile projects do not benefit from the scrutiny of independent monitoring by reputable firms of their living and working conditions, Human Rights Watch said.

View the full report on Human Rights Watch here.