Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, has been buzzing with construction activity for the past few years. Two prestigious western institutions, New York University and the Guggenheim Museum, have decided to open branches in the country — and were immediately embroiled in controversy.They explain further in the article: money:
Immigrant construction workers at the NYU site were working 11- to 12-hour days, seven days a week, it was revealed. Many of them have not been reimbursed recruitment fees, costing up to a year’s wages, and live in terrible conditions. The ones who were brave enough to protest the abuses were met with beatings and imprisonment.
Similarly, laborers of the Guggenheim Museum were forced to pay for their contracts, live in substandard housing, and had their passports taken so they couldn’t leave the work site. Last year, 40 of them were hospitalized after their employers cracked down on a strike.
Both institutions claimed to be shocked, with NYU issuing a “Statement of Labor Values,” to which all participants in the construction of NYU-Abu Dhabi were contractually obligated to abide.
But the deplorable labor conditions is just one piece of a larger question: Why are these organizations there in the first place?
Of course, money is the primary motive for this ignorance.Someone needs to lobby Congress to create a bill that can effectively bar these institutions from doing business with countries that uphold slavery of this kind. And nobody who cares about civilized values should invest in the university and museum who sold out to the UAE.
NYU received $50 million from Abu Dhabi for signing up. And 2008 article by New York Magazine entitled The Emir of NYU reported that “NYU president John Sexton has been promised a blank check to duplicate his university on a desert island in Abu Dhabi, leaving both campuses flush with petrodollars.”
This blank check is being used to expand the NYU campus in New York City by 6 million square feet by 2031. This NYU 2031 plan is hotly protested by 11 community groups with petitions and lawsuits. What these protesters have not done is link the funding of NYU 2031 to the blank check by the UAE government, who denies their women, laborers, and everyone else equal treatment or due process under the law.