In an apparent response to an article critical of labor practices in Abu Dhabi, a newspaper publisher that prints the International New York Times in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) refused to publish the paper on Tuesday.
The article in question detailed apparent abuses of workers who helped build New York University’s Abu Dhabi outpost. The article said that despite NYU’s promise to ensure higher labor standards than the United Arab Emirates is known for, the prominent university failed to address multiple issues with worker compensation, living conditions and injury-causing work conditions.
New York Times spokeswoman Eileen Murphy confirmed that their local publisher The Khaleej Times had decided not to print Tuesday’s edition of the paper.
“We’ve been in touch with our local printer to express our profound disappointment in this decision, which we understand was based on their objection to this one particular article,” she told Al Jazeera. “To the best of our knowledge, this is the first time this has happened in the UAE.”
Murphy noted that the article was still available online in the UAE.
The United Arab Emirates, as well as neighboring Gulf country Qatar, have been criticized for lax labor standards for years. In March, protesters dropped confetti in the New York branch of the Guggenheim to protest the museum’s decision to open a branch in the UAE.
Western trade union and human rights groups have criticized both the UAE and Qatar for allowing workers to live in squalid conditions, withholding worker passports so they can’t return to their home countries and not establishing basic rules for things like wages and maximum working hours.
This month Qatar announced a plan to reform its labor laws, but has not set a timetable to implement the changes.