Virgin accused of hypocrisy on modern slavery for planned hospitality projects in Saudi Arabia; company says investment an opportunity to engage govt. on human rights
Author: Anthony Harwood, The Guardian, Published on: 10 November 2017
Sir Richard Branson labelled a hypocrite over support for Saudi tourism scheme, 10 Nov 2017
Sir Richard Branson has been accused of hypocrisy after investing in a luxury tourism project in Saudi Arabia despite his track record of speaking out against human rights abuses in the country. The Virgin Group founder has backed a project to develop 50 islands [in] the Red Sea...human rights campaigners are concerned that work on the project is likely to be carried out by migrant labour from Asia working under the kafala system, which has been likened to slavery...Branson, who has been vocal about ending modern-day slavery, has criticised Saudi Arabia over its human rights record.
A Virgin spokesman said: “We have debated at length which is the best approach: to confront and boycott or to engage and seek dialogue. We see merit in both but we’ve found we’ve had greater success with the latter...“We believe our evolving relationship [with Saudi Arabia] will create welcome opportunities to start productive conversations about human rights and other challenges the country faces. It is through interactions like these that we believe we can make the greatest contribution to tangible progress.”
Related companies: Virgin Group