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Sat 28 Feb 2015 09:52 AM

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Diplomats hail worker living conditions during Saadiyat tour

Indian Ambassador to the UAE among those who are taken on tour; comes just weeks after critical report by rights group

Diplomats hail worker living conditions during Saadiyat tour
A cameraman takes footages of the Louvre museum that is still under construction in Abu Dhabi. (AFP/Getty Images)

Diplomats in the UAE have hailed improvements made in the living conditions for workers helping to shape Abu Dhabi's multi-billion dollar Saadiyat Island.

Tourism master developer TDIC said it took a delegation of ambassadors and diplomats on a tour of Saadiyat island, including an official from India, which is a major source of construction workers in the UAE.

The tour comes just weeks after Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC) rejected claims made by a human rights group related to conditions for workers employed on high-profile projects such as the Louvre and Guggenheim museums and a campus of New York University (NYU).

TDIC said claims by Human Rights Watch that serious concerns about workers’ rights have not been resolved were "outdated and based on unknown methodologies".

Following the tour, TP Seetharam, Indian Ambassador to the UAE, said in comments published by news agency WAM: "It was good to see the kind of facilities that are there. India is a major source of labour for the UAE and a large number come from India, so it’s good to have an opportunity to see the conditions in which they work and live."

Philip Parham, British Ambassador to the UAE, added: "It’s good to see that conditions are improving and that progress is being made. The amount that has been done to try to improve the conditions for the construction workers is impressive.

"It was interesting and encouraging also to hear the Minister say that it is a continuous work in progress and there’s always more that can be done."

The officials had an opportunity to witness the progress on Louvre Abu Dhabi’s construction site and to visit the Saadiyat Accommodation Village.

The tour was followed by a meeting with Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, where he provided the delegation with a comprehensive overview on the progress and achievements that TDIC has accomplished on the subject of workers welfare.

Dr Gargash told the ambassadors that TDIC has come a long way in establishing a benchmark in the construction industry for workers' welfare for the entire region.

He said: "We pride ourselves in the level of progress and regulations that have been put in place by TDIC to ensure that construction workers on Saadiyat’s world-class projects are working and living in best standards and are always treated fairly.

"Undoubtedly, there are challenges in the industry, but they’re challenges that we are constantly working with the various parties in charge to overcome. We are satisfied with what have been achieved and remain committed to keep this topic as a high priority for us."

Ambassadors representing the United Kingdom, United States of America, France, Germany, Italy, Austria, The Netherlands, Switzerland, Belgium, Sweden, Portugal, Denmark, Norway, Pakistan and India, as well as senior diplomats from the Irish, Canadian and Australian embassies, participated in the tour.

Ali Majed Al Mansoori, TDIC’s chairman, said: "This visit was an opportunity for the ambassadors to see first-hand the workers’ lifestyle and they expressed positive feedback by the end of the tour.

"It is important to inform officials and the public of the work that is being done for worker welfare on Saadiyat. We are proud of what has been achieved and are determined to continue to provide a high quality life for workers both on-site and off-site," he added.

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