HRW found that workers were asked to pay large recruitment fees for which they have yet to be reimbursed. Their passports have been confiscated by contracted project managers. And in the (all too frequent) event that wages are withheld or delayed, they have no legal recourse by which to seek justice or fair compensation. Strikes result in massive deportations.

“It’s a very clear message that the UAE sends to workers,” McGeehan said, “which is ‘Don’t protest, just keep quiet and accept what you’ve got.’”

Where workers on Saadiyat have been silenced, GULF protesters in New York are taking up the banner. “Right now, we are asking for a meeting with the museum’s board of trustees,” participant Natasha Dillon tells Quartz over the phone, outlining GULF’s three demands for Saadiyat workers: “a living wage, a debt settlement account… and a right to organize.”

Quartz has reached out to the Guggenheim for comment. This article will be updated with any response.

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