TDIC rejects workers abuse charge
Abu Dhabi, May 19, 2009
Abu Dhabi's Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), which is the government arm charged with developing Saadiyat island, has rejected claims of workers abuse on the island.
The company was reacting to a report by the New York-based Human Rights Watch which alleged that thousands of Asian workers hired to build museums and art galleries on island are being exploited.
A TDIC statement said the rights report ignored steps taken on behalf of workers' welfare on Saadiyat Island, including a newly constructed workers' village that is expected to open in July.
The UAE minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, said the report overlooked "the rapid strides that have been made over the past few years to boost rights and protection for labourers.
TDIC said that work on projects has not yet started. "None of the construction contracts have been awarded to date," TDIC spokesman Bassem Terkawi said as he took reporters on a tour of the island and new accommodation built to house future workers.
However, he acknowledged there were about 2,300 construction workers working on infrastructure.
"These people live on the island. In terms of quality, their accommodation is no less" than the new facilities that are being completed to host 20,000 workers within 12 months.
Terkawi said the TDIC does not recruit workers and this was the responsibility of contractors, but he said TDIC was giving itself the right to monitor the recruiting process to eliminate abuse.