“Zaha Hadid, Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel are among architects singled out by US-based organisation Human Rights Watch for the ‘abuse and severe exploitation’ of construction labourers occurring on their projects at Abu Dhabi’s luxury Saadiyat Island development.
“In an 80-page report published last week, entitled The Island of Happiness: Exploitation of Migrant Workers on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi, Human Rights Watch found that, despite slow improvements in timely payment of wages and labour conditions, abuses such as passport withholding and fines are still occurring.
“Under government developer the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), Saadiyat Island (‘Happiness Island’ in Arabic) is being developed into a £17 billion tourism and cultural centre, comprising a Nouvel-designed Louvre, a Guggenheim by Gehry, Foster + Partners’ Sheikh Zayed National Museum and Hadid’s Performing Arts Centre, all yet to be completed.
“Human Rights Watch called on the architects, and institutions such as the Guggenheim and the Louvre, to obtain enforceable contractual guarantees that construction companies will protect workers’ fundamental human rights.”
Darkening Dubai. Architects named in human rights row, by Christopher Sell, Lebbeus Woods, 28 May, 2009