Human Rights Watch (HRW) is at our throat again. This time, the New York-based group has moved on from bashing Dubai, which it did for the past three years, to Abu Dhabi, accusing the emirate's leading tourism developer of 'exploiting' workers who are involved in the building of the Saadiyat Island's cultural projects.
The group forgot, however, in its haste to orchestrate its suspicious smear campaign, that work on construction has yet to get under way.
The response from the Tourism Development and Investment Company (TDIC), published today in Gulf News, is thorough and supported by documents released by the company long before HRW started its so-called 'investigation'.
At the group's press conference in Abu Dhabi yesterday, an understandably frustrated reporter asked a question that is on the minds of many people in this country: Why is HRW singling out the UAE?
The group's representative reportedly became angry at this. But it is a legitimate question, since HRW rarely conducts 'investigations' in or publishes reports on human rights violations in other countries in the Middle East. We would have supported the group's efforts to reveal, for example, the inhumane treatment of more than 11,000 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails, or the two-year-old Israeli siege of Gaza, which almost suffocated all forms of life on the strip.
HRW continues to ignore the fact that the UAE is an open society (they are able to hold regular press conferences here) that has provided aid and support through employment opportunities to millions of people in less fortunate countries. This fact you will never see in the group's reports.
As TDIC said, we welcome the HRW's role in promoting human rights, but it should be fair and transparent. Its lack of transparency and fairness leads one to wonder about a possible hidden agenda.