By Rob Wagner
The GCC Leadership Summit '08 labour conference busted so many stereotypes held by labour unions and employers.
It's been a busy week for Construction Week. First we hosted the GCC Leadership Summit '08 labour conference, which attracted members of the Human Rights Watch, leaders of the AFL-CIO Solidarity offices and many UAE employers.
It was a rare moment, thanks largely to the Dubai Municipality, in which so many people from diverse backgrounds met in the UAE to discuss the country's pressing labour issues.
In a way, the conference busted so many stereotypes held by labour unions and employers. There was a meeting of the minds in which organisers and employers agreed that labour laws with teeth urgently need to be implemented to protect the rights of workers in the areas of wages, accommodation, and health and safety.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the conference was the willingness of most participants to discuss openly a sensitive topic of right to representation and free association.
These two areas of workers' rights have not been explored deeply in the Middle East and is a relatively new concept to the region. The fact that the conference was even held is testament to the commitment by the UAE government, employers and workers' representatives to protect the workforce.
Keep an eye out for deputy editor Conrad Egbert's interview with Ellie Larson, a labour organiser for the AFL-CIO, who sees great challenges ahead but also progress towards workers' rights in the UAE.
After the conference ended, assistant editor Jamie Stewart was on his way to New York City to meet with Nakheel executives and entrepreneurial icon Donald Trump to discuss the launching of the Trump International Hotel and Tower Dubai, which will be the centrepiece and gateway of the Palm Jumeirah.
The project offers special challenges to the Trump Organisation and Nakheel, in which special attention has been paid to security to minimise the threat of a militant attack.
Yet the security features are so well designed that little can be detected in close examination of the project. Already there is considerable interest in the 62-storey project, as about 50 of the hotel's residential apartments have been sold.
And lastly, Conrad headed for Bahrain to cover Ithmaar Bank's launching of Naseej, a real estate development company which will provide services, including development and construction services, manufacturing and moving building materials throughout the region, as Bahrain steams ahead in its massive construction boom.
Rob Wagner is the editor of Construction Week.
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