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Gulf Labor Members Denied Entry to UAE, Under Security Scrutiny

Artists Walid Raad and Ashok Sukumaran, who are both involved in the activist group Gulf Labor, have both been denied entry to the United Arab Emirates by local authorities. Raad attempted to enter in order to attend the March Meetings at the Sharjah Biennial and to continue the research Gulf Labor initiated in 2010 about the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, but his passport was confiscated at the airport, then sent back with him to the US. Sukumaran, meanwhile, was denied a visa after repeated applications.

They were apparently prevented from entering due to “security” concerns, despite the fact that Raad had been in touch with government officials in the UAE, as well as officials from the Guggenheim Museum in New York, the Guggenheim Abu Dhabi, and Tourism Development & Investment Company, who were all aware of his intended visit. This comes after the recent barring of NYU professor Andrew Ross from travelling to the UAE after his criticism of labor conditions on Saadiyat Island.

Gulf Labor’s latest report on the labor conditions on Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi, where branches of the Guggenheim, the Louvre, and NYU are all being planned, will be made public on July 29 at the Venice Biennale at the invitation of Biennale curator Okwui Enwezor.