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Statement on the Denied Entry to UEA of Academy Member Walid Raad


Over the last month, the United Arab Emirates have refused entry to several academics and artists including the sociologist and NYU professor Andrew Ross and the media artist Ashok Sukumaran, as well as to artist Walid Raad, a founding member of the Academy of the Arts of the World Cologne.

Though no formal reason was given for these denials of entry and subsequent deportations, all involved are contributors to the Gulf Labor campaign, an initiative by artists and intellectuals to improve the working conditions of migrants at construction sites for the new cultural infrastructure at Saadiyat Island in Abu Dhabi.

Walid Raad has written an open letter describing his treatment and the background of the Gulf Labor project, and how its ongoing efforts for a transparent, critical dialogue are now being frustrated by heavy-handed methods. The UAE’s actions to prevent criticism of unacceptable labor conditions and their tacit approval by major international art institutions only serve to underscore the urgency of the problem.

The members of the Academy of the Arts of the World Cologne would like to express their wholehearted solidarity with Walid Raad and the other members of the Gulf Labor project denied entry, as well as those within the region struggling daily with exploitation and isolation. We protest against the institution of travel bans and other forms of censorship to prevent criticism, and call for a broader debate on the unacceptable conditions thus revealed.

Galit Eilat
Ekaterina Degot
Madhushree Dhutta
Monika Gintersdorfer
Tom Holert
Liza Lim
Tien-Chi Martin-Liao
Lemi Ponifasio
David Riff
Ali Samadi
Mark Terkessidis
Terre Thaemlitz