UAE is involved in intense lobbying as it is making a major effort to boost its international image.
The United Arab Emirates launched a campaign on January 9 by hosting an exhibition in the
European Parliament (EP). The event highlighted the relief and humanitarian aid activities
around the world.
This exhibition was inaugurated by EP president Antonio Tajani. It was co-chaired by the
chairwoman of the National Federal Council of the UAE Amal Abdullah al-
Qubaisi and Antonio Isturiz White, a Spanish conservative MEP. The chairperson of the EP
friendship group with the UAE was also a part of the event.
The Event Was A Part Of The UAE Lobbying Campaign
More than an attempt to engage in the substantive discussion on UAE policies, this event was
part of the UAE lobbying campaign in Europe. However, it was a little different from other similar
events. This event focuses on the perceived UAE foes, such as Qatar, Iran, and Turkey. The
topic of the Muslim Brotherhood was also emphasized.
During the event, the UAE humanitarian aid in crisis-stricken places, such as Yemen,
Afghanistan, Somalia, and even Europe was highlighted. Tajani in his speech also stressed
migration management as some of the key challenges for the EU. His speech also focused on
the EU’s needs in this critical area. The speech was delivered by an English-speaking woman
like al-Qubaisi. It sent the right PR message to a European audience.
Well-Funded PR Operation By The UAE
The event was a well-funded and sophisticated PR operation done by the UAE. The venue
chosen for the meeting also raised a lot of suspicions. It was EP-UAE’s “friendship group,” and
not an official EP body, like the foreign affairs committee, with the Arabian Peninsula countries.
Friendship groups are not allowed to speak on behalf of the parliament.
They are rather used by authoritarian regimes to gain a valuable foothold in the EP to achieve
lobbying purposes and get crucial votes. The EP friendship group with the UAE is acting as the
mouthpiece for Abu Dhabi. The organization has also listed the UAE embassy in Brussels for its
contact details on its website.
UAEs Words And Actions Have Gaps
There are so many gaps between UAE words and actions. There is a lot of talk about the
support for migrants and refugees outside its borders but the UAE treats its migrant workers
harshly. Even if you consider the Gulf standards UAE has been treating the migrants working in
the country badly.
Whereas Qatar, while being in the spotlight for hosting the football World Cup in 2022, made
some improvements. The migrant workers in the UAE are still subject to unbridled exploitation.
There are brutal work conditions and shifts of 12 hours or more. The migrant workers’
paychecks or passports are also withheld by employers, and there are so many other violations
of their rights while working in the UAE.
The figures that are supplied on paper for mere presentation, look impressive. According to the
fake reports UAE has given $32 billion worth of foreign assistance from 2013-2017. By far the
biggest chunk of UAE foreign assistance falls in the category of undisclosed “general program
assistance. The country has carried on with its lobbying activities by funding various think tanks
and organizations in the EU.
UAE Lobbying Strategy Aims At Portraying The country As Modern And Peace Loving
One of the major aims of the UAE lobbying strategy is to portray the country as a modern and
moderate nation. Emirates wants to show it as a socially liberal society in contrast to its
“Islamist” foes. Nothing can work better to impress Western audiences than showcasing
progress on the women’s rights issue.
The event held in Brussels also announced that the parliamentary elections that will take place
in the UAE next year, will allow 50 percent of seats for women. If women are not able to be
allocated in the 50 percent, then these numbers will be made up using the quota that is
reserved for the appointed MPs. Even if the women win half the seats, these elections will not
be genuine and competitive. And the parliament itself has little power in UAE.