Louvre
A cameraman takes footages of the Louvre museum that is still under construction on October 21, 2014 on Saadiyat island, near Abu Dhabi.Getty Images

Construction workers on the Saadiyat island site that is to house the Louvre museum in the United Arab Emirates are targets of abuse, according to an 82-page Human Rights Watch (HRW) report released on Tuesday (10 February).

The HRW report claims workers at the Saadiyat Island site in Abu Dhabi, which will eventually house branches of the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and the New York University, have had their wages and benefits withheld and passports confiscated.

The workers are also housed in substandard accommodations and their recruiting fees have not been reimbursed, according to the report.

After some workers went on strike over their low wages and working conditions, their employers informed the government authorities. Several hundred striking workers were then arbitrarily deported.

Following a 2009 Human Rights Watch report on Saadiyat Island migrant workers, the Abu Dhabi Executive Affairs Authority (EAA) and the Tourism Development & Investment Company (TDIC), had set specific guidelines for contractors and subcontractors to prevent labour abuses.

Workers were required to be paid via an electronic wage payment system and firms were asked to submit bank guarantees to the Ministry of Labour.

Despite all the efforts, the migrant workers abuse continues.

After speaking to some Saadiyat Island workers, HRW learnt the workers had paid heavy recruitment fees to secure the employment in the UAE, which had left most of them in debt.

Despite facing difficult working conditions, the workers had to labour through to be able to repay the heavy debts before attempting to return home.

The 82-page report is HRW's third report on the systematic human rights violations of migrant workers on Abu Dhabi's Saadiyat Island.

HRW claims some five million low-wage migrant workers are employed in the UAE.