Mass brawl at Arabtec labour camp leaves 40 in hospital

Police were called to the Abu Dhabi site and 25 were arrested

Forty people were hospitalised and 25 were arrested at an Arabtec labour camp on Abu Dhabi’s Saadiyat Island, following a brawl in which rival gangs of workers were stabbed and attacked with sticks and metal bars.

Growing tensions turned violent on Tuesday night when rival groups of Pakistani and Bangladeshi workers, armed with hammers, knives and metal bars, engaged in a mass brawl at the labour camp.

Reports claimed some labourers suffered stab wounds and fighting continued into Wednesday morning, resulting in a police helicopter and officers being sent to the site, where over 2,000 workers live.

“So far, up to the last report I got, 40 people were hospitalised. I think a lot of them are basic injuries but I am sure a big number of those injured most likely have been discharged form hospital,” Ashraf Zeitoon, the head of group corporate communications at Arabtec, told Arabian Business.

Zeitoon confirmed 25 people were arrested by police and said the incident erupted after a Pakistani tea boy got into a disagreement with a Bangladeshi tea boy over the key to the small kitchenette where they both work.

“We were on the site straight away and the police were very cooperative and helped calm down the whole issue. After it subsided, one of their biggest demands was that they wanted to be separated. So we moved all the Pakistani workers to a different labour camp we have on Yas Island.

“We managed to recover with minimal damage to the work flow and no significant delays whatsoever,” he added.

Earlier this year, thousands of workers at an Arabtec labour camp in Dubai staged a four-day strike seeking higher pay.

"This unwarranted stoppage had been instigated by a minority group who will be held accountable for their actions," Arabtec said in a statement on Dubai's bourse, with police adding that about 200 of the workers would be repatriated.

Arabtec, in which Abu Dhabi state-owned fund Aabar owns a near 22-percent stake, was among the contractors that built Dubai's palm-shaped island projects and the world's tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa.

The latest incident took place at the Saadiyat Construction Village on Saadiyat Island, which Abu Dhabi is converting into an international tourist destination, at a cost of $27bn.

The island will have four museums and a performing arts centre designed by world-renowned architectural firms as well as a New York University campus, golf courses, hotels, and luxury residences.

Article continued on next page...

Join the Discussion

Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

NOTE: Comments posted on may be printed in the magazine Arabian Business

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: abusidra

ego problem.

Posted by: Paolo C

You don't need an expert to find a reason of such tension. Simply workers exploitation has its toll.

All comments are subject to approval before appearing

Further reading

Features & Analysis
Railways are huge priority for the GCC

Railways are huge priority for the GCC

Rail has the potential to dramatically affect Gulf economies...

Cash crunch at Saudi firm casts shadow over Lebanon's Hariris

Cash crunch at Saudi firm casts shadow over Lebanon's Hariris

The troubles at Saudi Oger have led to a cash crunch and layoffs...

Abandoned in Saudi desert camps, migrant workers won't leave without pay

Abandoned in Saudi desert camps, migrant workers won't leave without pay

Plight of workers has alarmed their home countries and drawn...

Most Discussed