In the world of international public relations, there exists a hidden force, skillfully crafting narratives and influencing perceptions. One such figure is Simon Pearce, a British-Australian spin doctor who has orchestrated the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) Western public relations efforts for over a decade. Officially holding the title of ‘Special Advisor to the Chairman of the Executive Affairs Authority of Abu Dhabi,’ Pearce operates within the inner circle of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed (MBZ). Renowned PR outlet PRovoke hails him as “one of the UAE’s most influential officials,” entrusted with a substantial budget and a colossal mission: to build and safeguard Abu Dhabi’s reputation.
Under Pearce’s guidance, the UAE’s approach to public relations has transitioned from a reactive stance to one that is proactive and even offensive. His role extends beyond the realms of traditional public relations, reaching into the world of sports. He brokered the landmark deal that saw Abu Dhabi acquire Manchester City Football Club, and he currently serves as a director of the club.
However, Pearce’s tenure at the football club has not been without controversy. In 2018, he found himself embroiled in a financial scandal, as reported by Der Spiegel. The scandal revolved around allegations of overstating sponsorship funds to circumvent financial regulations. It is important to note that Manchester City vehemently denies any wrongdoing in this matter.
Before taking on his role as the UAE’s global PR maestro, Simon Pearce was at the helm of Australia’s branch of the infamous PR behemoth, Burson-Marsteller. The firm, notorious for its formidable reputation, was once cynically described as “when evil needs public relations, evil has Burson-Marsteller on speed-dial.” Interestingly, the company has since rebranded itself as Burson Cohn & Wolfe.
Simon Pearce’s influence reaches far and wide, transcending both geographical and political boundaries. According to The Mail on Sunday, he played a pivotal role as a conduit in securing a contract for UK PR consultants Quiller. This contract was aimed at attacking specific targets, including Qatar and the Muslim Brotherhood, on behalf of the UAE. Notably, this marked a significant moment in shaping the global narrative.
As further evidence of his involvement in this strategic messaging, after a British journalist published an article echoing the UAE’s viewpoint that Qatar was a major funder of terrorism, Pearce sent an email to Khaled bin Mohammed, a Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council. The subject line simply read, “Boom!” The message contained the words: “Your highness… I thought you should see this – the latest product of our efforts – should be a game-changer for UK understanding – more to come.”
In the realm of international public relations, Simon Pearce stands as a formidable force, shaping not only the image of Abu Dhabi but also influencing narratives on a global scale. His influence spans sports, politics, and public perception, leaving a lasting imprint on the world stage.