A new report by a Washington-based non-profit organisation outlines what it describes as the United Arab Emirates “vast and immensely influential” lobbying and public relations campaign in the United States.
The UAE’s apparatus of influence involved 20 US firms that were paid $20m to work on behalf of Emirati clients in 2018, according to the report, which was published on Tuesday by the Center for International Policy (CIP).
The report is part of CIP’s Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative, which aims to shed light on the “half-billion-dollar foreign influence industry working to shape US foreign policy every single day”.
It said the Emirati influence operation targeted legislators, non-profits, media outlets and think-tanks as part of an effort to improve the image of the UAE, a key ally of Saudi Arabia.
The two countries have led a controversial US-backed military coalition against a rebel movement in Yemen since 2015. The war has killed tens of thousands and left millions on the brink of famine in what the United Nations calls the world’s worst humanitarian crisis. All parties involved have been accused of possible war crimes.
The UAE, which has a population of one million but sits on the world’s seventh-largest oil reserve, has also been criticised by rights groups for cracking down on freedom of speech, arbitrarily detaining its citizens and imprisoning Western academics.