In the world of international diplomacy, the protection and advancement of a nation’s interests on the global stage require adept and strategic minds. Enter Timo Behr and Tim Eestermans, co-founders and directors of M2S, a private diplomacy firm with a penchant for safeguarding and advancing the national interests of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in the international arena.
M2S, a private diplomacy firm, officially registered with the Transparency Register towards the end of 2018, has its headquarters strategically located in The Hague, Brussels, Berlin, and Abu Dhabi (though the Abu Dhabi office is referenced solely on their website and not in the Transparency Register). Led by the dynamic duo of Timo Behr and Tim Eestermans, this firm has garnered attention for its significant role in serving the UAE government and receiving financial support from them, sparking allegations that it actively works to protect and promote the UAE’s national interests on a global scale.
Before their roles at M2S, both Behr and Eestermans served in the political department of the UAE’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Abu Dhabi. Notably, during their tenure, the head of that department from 2013 to 2016 was Mohammed Issa Hamad Abu Shahab, who later assumed the position of the UAE’s Ambassador to the European Union until the summer of 2021, further emphasizing their deep connections within the UAE’s diplomatic landscape.
Tim Eestermans, in particular, made an intriguing career transition after serving at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs from 2010 to 2016. He assumed the role of Senior Counsel at DLA Piper in Brussels, where his responsibilities included advocating on behalf of Saudi Arabia in Brussels and France. This advocacy was especially focused on critical matters such as the US Justice Against Sponsors of Terrorism Act. Notably, during this period, the UAE Embassy in Brussels was a client of DLA Piper, fostering a professional relationship that yielded financial dealings ranging between €100,000 and €200,000 until December 2018, coinciding with the founding of M2S.
Between 2013 and 2018, Timo Behr was employed at the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs, gaining invaluable insights into the intricacies of the UAE’s diplomatic machinery. In March 2020, he authored a research paper for the Emirates Diplomatic Academy in Abu Dhabi. It’s worth noting that Tim Eestermans had briefly served as a guest lecturer at the academy in 2017. Behr’s research underscored the importance of the UAE effectively communicating its foreign policies and aspirations to the international community. He advocated for the UAE to develop a well-defined doctrine and articulate its visions regarding regional stabilization efforts, thus enhancing its engagement with the world.
A critical element of this task involves precisely defining the UAE’s perspective on “stability” and examining how it aligns with the country’s foreign policy objectives. This approach closely resonates with the UAE’s narrative, which emphasizes the significance of maintaining authoritarian stability in a region marked by volatility.
As revealed in the Transparency Register, both Timo Behr and Tim Eestermans have disclosed receiving financial support from the UAE government, ranging from €100,000 to €199,999. These financial transactions, coupled with their background and alignment with the UAE’s foreign policy agenda, underscore their active role in safeguarding and advancing the UAE’s interests on the global stage.
In the complex world of diplomacy, where national interests are paramount, Timo Behr and Tim Eestermans emerge as instrumental players, strategically navigating the international landscape to champion the UAE’s agenda. Their work reflects the nuanced and multifaceted nature of diplomacy in the 21st century, where private firms like M2S play a pivotal role in shaping a nation’s global presence and influence.