The Gulf state has been a target of several disinformation campaigns that dated back to the
2017 regional crisis. According to a new investigation report the United Arab Emirates has been
“discreetly” lobbying some of its key partners in France. The intense lobbying is an effort to
present Qatar in a negative light.
The UAE lobbying attempts in France were triggered when the UAE’s leader, Sheikh Mohamed
Bin Zayed visited (MBZ) Paris. According to its findings, there was an indirect lobbying attempt
by the UAE during his visit. It was carried out through various entities, that includes the French
subsidiary of the British Project Associates, media outlets, and think tanks.
UAE Lobbying Aims To Blacklist Qatar
The investigation has outlined that UAE is pushing to promote Qatar’s alleged links to the
Muslim Brotherhood. The country has been financing several groups to paint a bad image of
Qatar. UAE is stressing the fact that Qatar is linked to the movement “with terrorism” and
“Regardless of the facts, it is no longer merely a matter of advocating a narrative,” Pierre
Gastineau, editor-in-chief of Intelligence Online, said.
“We are dealing with a vast offensive aimed at creating a media environment that will place the
public in a position where it will lend a favorable ear to a certain type of rhetoric. Asserting
systematically that Qatar finances the Muslim Brotherhood and automatically associating the
Brotherhood with terrorism belongs to that strategy of cognitive warfare,” he added.
Emirates Lobbying To Promote The Anti Qatar Movements
The claim over Qatar’s alleged support to the Muslim Brotherhood has been cited by Abu Dhabi.
It cut off diplomatic ties with Doha and triggered the region’s worst political crisis.
At the time of the rift, the UAE had also joined Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, and Egypt and imposed
an illegal air, land, and sea blockade on Qatar. According to the claims Qatar has supported
terrorism however, Doha dismissed those accusations as baseless.
The crisis appeared to be resolved in 2021 when the Al-Ula Declaration, but remnants of the
crisis has appeared to linger. Qatar and the UAE’s ties improved as was seen in the various
online campaigns that have been traced back to the UAE.
One of the most notorious campaigns included QLeaks. The investigation found that the
operational headquarters of this campaign was in Emirates.
The Orient XXI probe comes came just weeks after Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al
Thani dismissed any links between Doha and the Muslim Brotherhood.
“There are no such links. There are no active members of the Muslim Brotherhood or related
organizations here in Qatar…we are a state, not a party. We deal with states and their
legitimate governments, not with political organizations,” the amir told France’s Le Point.
Qatar Hosting Of FIFA World Questioned Due To UAE Lobbying
The probe also analyzed some political figures. French Senator Nathalie Goulet, published a
book in which she did not mention the use of the banking systems in the UAE by 9/11 terrorists,
saying “she was unaware of this information”, dismissing claims over her links or interest with
Think tanks have also questioned Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 FIFA World Cup. The think tanks
had an apparent connection with the UAE.
“Nathalie and her late husband are long-time friends and we work closely together on issues of
common interest, including the fight against extremism,” Nuseibeh confirmed.
Another key finding was the role of the Project Associates in the US. This led to the “Boycott
Qatar” campaign in 2017. The report also revealed information citing the US Foreign Agents
Registration Act (FARA) database.
A French outlet had also highlighted Project Associates’ subcontract that was responsible for
the existence of the disinformation company SCL Social. This company is also rumored to have
supported the campaign to blacklist Qatar.
The report also revealed that the UAE National Media Council has contracted the company for
an amount of $250,000. As a result, the Project Associates proposed the promotion of the UAE
in Europe. The Ministry of the Interior’s former director, Ahmed Al-Raisi was also awarded the
presidency of Interpol. Other lobbying activities were also noted during this time period that
indicates UAE lobbying activities to defame Qatar.