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Island of Happiness

© Moment

Saadiyat Island is a cultural tourism project that is hoped to position Abu Dhabi as the patron of a modern Arab Renaissance. An important part of this project is the museums Louvre and Guggenheim. Most cultural projects on Saadiyat Island were significantly delayed by the collapse in oil prices and by regional destabilization after the Arab Spring.

The project has also raised the issue of workers´rights. Unionisation is forbidden, guest workers sometimes have their passports confiscated by employers to make it hard to leave or change jobs. Some also have debts to pay for their airfare and visas to be able to get to the Emirates. These images are from Saadiyat Island in genereal, the construction sites of Louvre Abu Dhabi and Guggenheim Abu Dhabi as well as the Saadiyat Accommodation Village in particular, a facility Emirati officials often point to when challenged about their labor policies.

While the Louvre will be finished in 2017, the Guggenheim has been delayed for years and still (as of early 2017) no completion date is available. When finished, the museum will be about 12 times the size of the Guggenheim in New York. Estimated cost is $800 million, financed by the government of Abu Dhabi.

The story is made with the support from Pulitzer Center.

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