Abu Dhabi / Development / International

NYU, Superhero for Abu Dhabi Laborers?

The NYU Abu Dhabi campus on Saadiyat Island, scheduled to open in 2014, will be located in the Cultural District, one of seven distinctive districts currently under development. Rafael Viñoly Architects PC has been hired to oversee the master planning process, for development of the campus to be located in the Marina District of Saadiyat Island.

The low-lying island will have four museums and a performing arts center designed by world-renowned architectural firms – including Ateliers Jean Nouvel, Foster and Partners, and Gehry Partners – as well as a campus of New York University, golf courses, hotels, and expensive residences.

One of the leading issues with the rapid development of Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi comes forward after the numerous reports of worker abuse. This includes but is not limited to: unlawful recruiting fees, broken promises of wages, and a sponsorship system that gives an employer virtually complete power over his workers. There has to be a reason why Abu Dhabi was able to develop a metropolis in the middle of a desert within a mere decade when it has taken other countries hundreds of years.

This is because they have gathered workers from surrounding countries who were mesmerized by the promise of opportunity but would discover they may have been hoodwinked into signed over their life. Horror stories of these hopeful workers arriving in Abu Dhabi and having their passports taken and working day till night in the extremely hot climate without so much as a lunch break is simply disgusting. It took countries years to start to develop labour laws – so if they pride themselves on rapid growth, this should change soon – right?

Because there is a lot of money and opportunity for businesses in Abu Dhabi at this moment, big names like New York University, Guggenheim, and Louvre are eager to finish the work they have started in this area. But, with this power comes great responsibility – a responsibility to serve as a human rights activist, if these project conduct in such a way that workers are treated fairly during their time of tenure, perhaps they can set a precedent for Abu Dhabi’s laborers – one can hope.

NYU Abu Dhabi Building

Illustration of Saadiyat Island’s Future

Fast Facts on Saadiyat Island

  • Saadiyat Island is a large, low-lying natural island located 500 meters off the coast of Abu Dhabi. To be completed in 2018, Saadiyat Island is expected to become Abu Dhabi’s cultural center.
  • Saadiyat Island will eventually house approximately 150,000 residents and will be connected to Abu Dhabi via two ten-lane causeways.
  • Saadiyat Island will also be home to four museums, including the Louvre Abu Dhabi, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, the Zayed National Museum, and the Maritime Museum. It will also include a world-class performing arts center.
  • Foundational work on the Louvre Abu Dhabi began in May 2009, and the 260,000-square-foot museum is scheduled to open in 2013. Designed by Jean Nouvel, it will showcase art from around the world, with a focus on bridging the gap between Eastern and Western art.
  • Saadiyat Island will be home to the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, dedicated to modern and contemporary art. The Frank Gehry-designed building is due for completion in 2013 and, at 450,000 square feet, will be the largest Guggenheim Museum in the world.
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2 thoughts on “NYU, Superhero for Abu Dhabi Laborers?

  1. Pingback: No Artists? No Museum for Abu Dhabi. « Archi-tessica

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