In a front page article of the NY Times, NYU gets some negative press related to the treatment of construction workers building its new campus on Saadiyat Island. My view is that the article was a bit harsh on NYU and got some facts wrong. The official NYU response is here. There have been reforms in the labor system in the UAE. The “Notice of Consent” clause tying a worker to one particular job has been removed. Indeed, in a recent joint technical paper with two co-authors we measure the impact of this reform – a good thing for workers. Click here for the policy brief summary and here for the full technical paper. Nevertheless abuse still persists in the labor system, a fact which the regulators acknowledge. However, to say there has been no progress is wrong. I think the presence of institutions such as NYU in the region help move the reform process forward.
Prof. Yaw Nyarko