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TDIC pulls concrete tender for Guggenheim

Developer to restart process as latest controversy on museum project

TDIC is behind much of the work on Saadiyat Island.
TDIC is behind much of the work on Saadiyat Island.

RELATED ARTICLES: Guggenheim Abu Dhabi boycott 'still in place'Human Rights Watch back Guggenheim boycott | TDIC finance chief defends bond assurance report

Tourism, Development & Investment Company (TDIC), Abu Dhabi’s master planner for its urban and suburban development, has pulled its tender for the concrete work on its Guggenheim Abu Dhabi museum project.

“This work, which forms a part of the multiple work contracts that make up the project, will be retendered at a future date, and all renewed interest from contractors will be welcome.”

The multi-million dollar art gallery – part of the TDIC’s portfolio of cultural landmarks in the capital along with the Louvre museum – has courted a degree of controversy since its conceptual launch in 2007. That year, Human Rights Watch called on the Guggenheim Museum's board of trustees to publicly pledge that it will enforce international labour rights during construction and maintenance of the building.

HRW sent a private letter in June 2007 to the Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in February that highlighted its concerns about the exploitation of migrant workers in the UAE.

In March, a coalition of 130 artists say they will boycott the Abu Dhabi Guggenheim on Saadiyat Island over complaints about the working conditions of foreign labourers.

The New York Times reported that a range of abuses have been reported on work sites in the island, including a failure of contractors to repay recruitment fees, hazardous working conditions and the arbitrary withholding of wages.

The artists claim that they will have no dealings with the Guggenheim until conditions at the work sites are improved.

So far, land reclamation, the sea wall and piling has been completed on the Guggenheim site, according to TDIC. It has not disclosed further details as to the reason for rescheduling the tender.

Financing for TDIC’s vast portfolio of potential projects - which includes hotels, golf courses, marina developments, cultural developments and hundreds of villas – has been a moot point in the last year.

The company raised US $1 billion and then US $1 billion through a Sukuk in 2009, according to Lee Tabler, then CEO of the developer. The five-year Islamic bonds pay 4.949% fixed return.

In June this year it was reported that TDIC had plans to sell Dh3.67bn ($1bn) in a potential bond sale, part of its existing $3bn programme.
 

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