Secrecy and doubt still shroud the labor conditions at Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, where the Guggenheim is building a new museum, according to the artist-led activist group GulfLabor. In a dispatch sent last week, the organization says it is concerned with both the rights of the migrant workers at the camp and with the labor monitor itself, PricewaterhouseCoopers, which they say has ties to the government.
GulfLabor, whose members include artists Doug Ashford, Hans Haacke, and Walid Raad, argues that PricewaterhouseCoopers shouldn’t have submitted its September 28th report to the state-run tourism board before releasing it to the public, allowing the agency to respond and potentially shape the findings. The group also worries that the report is based primarily on scheduled interviews with workers, providing a less transparent picture than if they had conducted surprise check-ups.
Still, the decision to publish the report at all is “a sign of [the tourism board] exerting effort towards addressing the condition of workers on Saadiyat Island,” the group writes. And there was still no shortage of problems outlined in the study, which found workers being required to pay recruitment fees, a lack of drinking water, poor living conditions overall, and few outlets to report abuses.
GulfLabor has requested a meeting with the Guggenheim to discuss the recent findings.
— Rachel Corbett