Death of Pakistani Worker at Louvre Abu Dhabi Confirmed by French Museum Authority

The 28-year-old construction worker was killed this past month.

2014-august-13-gugg-abu-dhabi-3
Model of Saadiyat Island with Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi in the distance on the left.
Photo: Via Wikimedia Commons.

A spokesperson for Agence France Museum (AFM) confirmed that a 28-year-old construction worker from Pakistan was killed while working on the site of the Louvre Abu Dhabi on June 8.

The confirming statement, which was made by Ugo Bertoni, came in response to a direct inquiry from Artinfo’s Mostafa Heddaya after an open letter from the Gulf Labor group posted on that website raised several concerns about recent and ongoing events in Saadiyat, the development of which the Louvre and the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi are both a part.

Rendering of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel. Image: Courtesy of louvreabudhabi.ae

Rendering of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, designed by Jean Nouvel. Image: Courtesy of louvreabudhabi.ae

The AFM confirmed that it was informed of the death by TDIC, Tourism Development and Investment Company, which is the developer in charge of the Louvre Abu Dhabi.

The open letter from Gulf Labor, written in both French and English, is dated July 13 and is addressed to Manuel Rabaté, director general of AFM; Jean-François Charnier, “Directeur Scientifique” of the AFM; and to Jean-Luc Martinez, president and director of the Louvre in Paris.

Among the issues raised, the group asked what has been learned by the Louvre Abu Dhabi “over the past two years of construction activity, about the conditions of workers welfare” and also requested to know the “specific plans” of the Louvre and United Arab Emirates “to bring in changes to workers welfare, the treatment of striking workers, and the conduct of the main contractor Arabtec.”

The letter then asked for confirmation that the Pakistani worker had been killed and asked “what subsequent steps have been taken?”

AFM spokesman Bertoni told Artinfo the agency is “deeply saddened by this tragic accident and has immediately sent its condolences to the family, relatives, and colleagues of the the victim. AFM, which is not in charge of the construction of the Louvre Abu Dhabi, has immediately questioned TDIC and has been regularly updated about the conditions of this accident and its following developments.” Further “definitive conclusions” of an investigation by police and Emirati authorities are due to be released at the end of this month.

A room at Saadiyat Viillage with six beds for workers. Image: Courtesy Gulf Labor.

A room at Saadiyat Viillage with six beds for workers. Image: Courtesy Gulf Labor.

Gulf Labor was formed in 2010 to secure better working conditions for laborers on Saadiyat Island. In March 2014, the group released a 13-page report about its observations of working conditions on Saadiyat and recommendations for improvements.

The recent death of the worker is likely to add fuel to years of criticism about labor and human rights conditions on Saadiyat linked to the Louvre, the Guggenheim, and the New York University outposts being built there.

For related coverage, see:

What’s Really Going on at Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island?

300 French Artworks for Louvre’s Abu Dhabi

Artist Imprisoned in Abu Dhabi for a Facebook Post

Abu Dhabi’s Art to Showcase Future of Gulf Museums


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