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by Albadr AbuBaker Alshateri

When Dubai World Ports (DWP), a Dubai Government-owned entity, sought to purchase the British company Peninsular and Oriental Steam Navigation (P&O) in 2006, it faced huge opposition from the US Congress, local authority, and national security experts, despite the Bush Administration’s approval of the deal. The acquisition of P&O would have given the Dubai company the concession to run six major ports in the USA.[1]

The idea of having an Arab country run US ports “struck many Americans as an absurdity. Why not just turn control directly over to Al Qaeda?”[2] some people had asked. The fear was that the deal would allow terrorists to smuggle weapons of mass destruction in containers moved by countries deemed untrustworthy. Newsweek magazine described the situation as “a free-for-all on Capitol Hill. Democratic Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton and Charles Schumer of New York led the fearmongering. Republicans joined the chorus, some frightened of being cast as ‘soft’ on terrorism.”[3]

The Dubai Ports eventually had to bow out of the deal under incessant pressure from both parties in Congress. The Dubai government showed great tact in avoiding a confrontation between the White House and Congress in which the latter would have prevailed. The company announced, “at the direction of Dubai’s ruler it would ‘transfer’ to a still-unnamed American company the leases to manage some of the busiest terminals in the United States, including some in New York, Newark, Baltimore and Miami.”[4]

That was the image in the US of the UAE a decade and a half ago. A mere decade later, the UAE image saw a sea change to become one of the most vibrant countries of the Arab World, occupying an exceptional position in Washington’s otherwise bleak perception of the region. Addressing the World Government Summit in Dubai in February 2016, President Obama lauded the UAE for its achievements and said, “Here in the UAE, your commitment to e-government and innovation has improved how you deliver services like health care, empowered entrepreneurs and advanced clean energy.”[5] This is in striking contrast to the negative perception Obama showed in a later interview in The Atlantic magazine.[6]

Hillary Clinton, who led the fight against the port deal in the Senate, had a change of heart about the UAE. In her memoir, Hard Choices, she describes the UAE as sleek and modern and the UAE’s plans to diversify its energy source from oil to clean energy as astute and visionary. This, Hillary stated, is “a rare instance of foresight and smart planning in a petrostate.”[7] An American academic/diplomat, Vali Nasr, described the UAE as a rare example of good news in the region.[8] Anthony Zinni, former commander of the CENTCOM, opined that “The UAE has gone all-in,” adding that as “U.S. ties with long-standing allies Turkey and Saudi Arabia have frayed, and Egypt and Jordan contend with domestic challenges, the UAE now occupies a unique position in the region. “It’s the strongest relationship that the United States has in the Arab world today.”[9] [Emphasis added]

Likewise, Ash Carter, former US Secretary of Defense, singled out UAE for high praise at the International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) 2016 Manama Dialogue. Reaffirming US-UAE cooperation, Carter declared that the UAE

unquestionably has one of the most capable militaries in the Middle East, and a truly excellent bilateral relationship with us that’s growing stronger and more institutionalized every day. The UAE not only acquires effective capabilities; it puts skin in the game. This makes the UAE a key partner for the United States.[10] [Emphasis added].

The UAE’s clout in Washington has not been particular to the last administration. The incoming administration of Donald Trump embraced the UAE before even setting foot in the White House. ABC News reported that candidate Trump consulted with the UAE on a major speech on energy during the 2016 campaign.[11] During a visit to the White House by Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince in 2017, Trump “described Sheikh Mohamed as ‘a very special person’ who loves his country and loves the US.”[12] An August 2019 article in American Prospect noted that the UAE plays a dominant role in Trump’s foreign policy.[13]

This article addresses several reasons for the change in Washington’s perception of the UAE over a decade from a suspect on issues of national security to a highly extolled partner of the US.

Map of UAE
The UAE is a federation of seven emirates — Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ajman, Fujairah, Ras al Khaimah, Sharjah and Umm al Quwain

UAE’s uniqueness in US eyes could be explained partially from a realist perspective. The US enjoys cordial and warm relations, based on real interest, with all the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries. For starters, the UAE is one of the largest oil producers with the seventh-largest reserve. Its economy is the second-largest in the Arab world after Saudi Arabia. Moreover, the UAE has one of the most diversified economies among the GCC countries. Oil contributes merely 33% of the GDP—the lowest among oil-rich GCC countries.[14]

Furthermore, the UAE is the most important trading partner and the largest market for US exports in the region. The UAE hosts more than 3000 US firms and is home for 30,000 Americans. The relationship between the UAE and the US runs the gamut of cultural, military, social, educational, security and diplomatic fields.

However, all these ties do not explain the uniqueness of the relationship. Other GCC countries have strong political, economic, and cultural ties with the US. The realist approach fails to explain UAE exceptionalism. Why is official Washington so positive about the UAE?

The answer is that UAE, using its soft power, has been able to construct an image in Washington that is unique among its peers in the Gulf or Arab states. This positive image is shaped by five important elements: tolerance, forward-looking leadership, rejection of religious extremism, burden-sharing, and women’s empowerment.

1. The Image of Tolerance

The UAE perceives tolerance as a means to an end, leading to a stronger society that will build higher levels of acceptance, multiculturalism, tolerance of others, and respect for differences and cultures. Tolerance will eschew racism, xenophobia, discrimination, and hatred.[15]

Today the UAE is home for many nationalities, religions, cultures, and sects who coexist in relative peace and harmony. As UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum averred, “Tolerance is a key value of our ancestors and our founding fathers.”[16] Evidence of this tolerance “is the fact that it is home to over 200 nationalities and 40 churches, a Sikh temple, and two Hindu temples — substantially more centers of worship of other faiths than all other GCC countries combined.”[17] This image of tolerance plays well into the perception of official Washington of the UAE as an oasis amidst a desert of intolerance.

The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Shaikh Mohammed bin Zayed, displays a statue of tolerance at the front gate of his court. The UAE boasts many churches and temples of other religions. UAE officials partake in the Christmas observances at different Christian denominations yearly. Additionally, the Shi’a minority holds their Hussainiyah (Shi’a congregation) in the open. Relative tolerance of western lifestyle and liberal social environment not only exists but also is protected and celebrated.

The government inaugurated a National Tolerance Program in June 2016 that focuses on consolidating the family in inculcating national values. It also includes prevention policies to combat extreme ideas and encourage scientific inquiries, rational discourse, and cultural appreciation.[18]

2. Young, Dynamic and Forward-Looking Leadership

The UAE was founded in 1971 amid a challenging regional order. Regional powers laid claims on the young nation. Pan-Arab and radical movements in the region posed an ideological and security threat to the nascent state. Domestically, the federation was in its infancy, and federal institutions were in formation. Despite prodigious wealth as a result of oil revenues, the paucity of human resources hampered economic development and military capability.

Sheikh Zayed, the founding father of the UAE, trod cautiously in the minefield of the regional order. His leadership style was building consensus domestically and gravitating towards the Arab World in his foreign relations without abandoning ties to Western powers. Zayed, nonetheless, initiated the oil embargo against countries that supported Israel during the October 1973 War. [19]

Arab-orientation was central to UAE foreign policy throughout Zayed’s rein. Arab Islamic solidarity figured prominently in Zayed’s vision for the region. He stated that the main concern of UAE foreign policy is

maintaining good relations and cooperation between the UAE and neighboring nations; settling disputes that may arise in the future by cordial, peaceful means; abiding by the UAE’s commitments toward the Arab world and … improving Islamic solidarity and cooperation with Muslim states in all spheres; and maintaining fruitful cooperation with all nations in all fields to establish security, peace and progress.[20]

The UAE foreign policy saw the expansion of its scope and the transformation of its outreach. The post-Zayed foreign policy of the UAE had broader ambitions and goals due to globalization and the transitioning to a diversified economy. Given the imperatives of these two elements, globalization and economic diversification, UAE foreign policy shifted from identity centered to one motivated and “influenced by economic interests, reciprocity, benefit and advantage.”[21]

The local media identified the change UAE foreign policy underwent since the passing of Zayed from the scene:

experts and observers acknowledge that trade, investment, diversifying sources of income and achieving sustainability in its environmental and renewable energy programs among other areas of policy coordination are now the primary driving forces and motivators informing the dynamics of the UAE’s Foreign Policy as opposed to the ‘traditional’ issues such as regional and international political developments[22]

The smooth succession to a new generation of leadership brought about a reorientation in foreign and defense policy. A young and dynamic leadership runs the foreign, defense and economic policies of the UAE. Unlike official Washington during the Dubai Ports, American diplomats in Abu Dhabi viewed the young Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, or MBZ as the Americans like to call him, as the epitome of this forward-looking leadership in 2006. An embassy cable dated March 2, 2005, described MBZ as “an articulate, forceful interlocutor … He is seen as a dynamic leader and a modernizer, and throughout the Emirates, there are high expectations for change from his influence in Abu Dhabi and by extension the federation of seven emirates.”[23]

Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdulla bin Zayed, a full brother of MBZ, guides the country’s foreign policy in the troubled waters of the region. US diplomats in Abu Dhabi also speak highly of him. The same cable from Embassy Abu Dhabi stated, “Abdullah is a candid and engaging official, and generally couches his criticism of U.S. policies in the Middle East in terms of ‘friendly advice.’ Abdullah is thoughtful and weighs his responses carefully. He is extremely well-read, a news-junkie, very bright, and known for thinking outside the box.”[24]

Such views, arguably, had a cumulative influence on the change in Washington’s assessments of the UAE. If one were to put a date on the beginning of the transformation of the relationship between the two countries, it would be 2008. That year saw George W. Bush’s official visit to the UAE— a first for a sitting US president. The year 2008 also witnessed the appointment of an active new UAE ambassador, Yousef Al Otaiba, with a clear mandate to improve ties with Washington. Finally, the election of Barrack Obama, with an outlook to improving relations with the Arab and Islamic World, was another positive development.

Members of the Obama Administration seemed to be impressed with the UAE leadership. Robert M Gates, former Secretary of Defense, said “ ‘MBZ,’ as we referred to him, is one of the smartest, canniest people I have ever met”[25] Likewise, Leon Panetta, former Secretary of Defense, lauded the UAE as “a small but impressive country,” and extolled MBZ as “one of the most thoughtful leaders I have ever encountered.”[26]

A more recent article published in June 2019 by David D. Kirkpatrick in The New York Times goes even further in pronouncing MBZ, the “crown prince of Abu Dhabi and de facto ruler of the United Arab Emirates”, as “arguably the most powerful leader in the Arab world,” and “among the most influential foreign voices in Washington”.[27]

MBZ surrounds himself with very talented young men in a variety of fields. The young and energetic UAE Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba, who makes all the circles of Washington, is another pillar in the construction of the positive image in Washington[28]. The Huffington Report in January 2017 reported that “Yousef Al Otaiba is the most charming man in Washington: He’s slick, he’s savvy and he throws one hell of a party.”[29]

Omar Saif Ghobash, the Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs for Culture, is another rising star in UAE diplomacy and the new leadership. He served as UAE Ambassador to Moscow and Paris, and plays a bigger role than his portfolio indicates: he is among the few authorized to speak on behalf of the government. Ambassador Ghobash is media-savvy and fluent in Arabic, English, French, and Russian. Recently he published a book titled Letters to a Young Muslim based on missives to his son about Muslim young men in the 21st Century. The theme and the style of the book is appealing to western audiences, engaging in self-critical evaluation without blaming others in causing extremism among the Muslims.

In a 2017 article in Foreign Affairs that preceded the book, Ghobash argued that his intention was to open his son’s eyes to the world and the possible questions he may have in the future. He adds

I want my sons and their generation of Muslims to understand how to be faithful to Islam and its deepest values while charting a course through a complex world. I want them to discover through observation and thought that there need be no conflict between Islam and the rest of the world. I want them to understand that even in matters of religion, there are many choices that we must make. I want my sons’ generation of Muslims to realize that they have the right—and the obligation—to think about and to decide what is right and what is wrong, what is Islamic and what is peripheral to the faith.[30]

The new foreign policy elites are the result of the reforms carried out by Foreign Minister Abdulla bin Zayed. The appointment of Abdulla bin Zayed in 2006, assisted by the Cambridge–educated Minister of State, Dr. Anwar Gargash, ushered the ministry into high gear.[31]

The ministry recruited highly talented Emirati technocrats that assiduously carry out UAE policies. In particular two minsters of state, Reem al-Hashimi and Dr. Sultan al-Jaber, have played enormous roles in high stakes diplomacy that showed the ministry’s new muscles. Both ministers were involved in persuading various countries to vote for the UAE to host the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The competition was stiff against well-established countries like Germany and Austria. UAE diplomats engaged in a diplomatic marathon and visited many capitals to garner the necessary votes. The efforts paid off, and the UAE became the host country for IRENA.[32]

Dubai, led by its ruler Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, has become an example for development and modernization. He too is surrounded by a professional team who are steering Dubai into a global economic and commercial hub. The Economist in 2018 described Dubai as the Hong Kong of the region, boasting the “busiest airport by international passengers and the busiest container port between Singapore and Rotterdam.” Predictable rules, free enterprise, openness, and security transformed Dubai into one of “the world’s great entrepots.”[33]

These individuals and others surrounding the ruler meet high expectations and give a helping hand in government efficiency and lean bureaucracy. As one observer put it: “Government here is definitely not a slow down. It is a fast-moving entity. It is moving faster than the wishes of the people and the private sector”[34] Such individuals helped Dubai after “a gruelling campaign anthree rounds of voting,” to bag the right to host the next World Expo in 2020, the first world’s fair in the Middle East.”[35]

Dubai’s Burj Khalifa, opened in 2010, ranks as the tallest structure in the world at 2,722 feet.

Dubai ambition is boundless¸ and it aims high, literally and figuratively with iconic buildings and skyscrapers. Leading these iconic buildings is Burj Khalifa, at 830 meters the tallest building in the world. This and other similar buildings “that push the boundaries of architecture while paying homage to the roots of Islamic architecture”[36] give Dubai immediate recognition worldwide, much like the Twin Towers of Kuala Lumpur and the Empire State Building of New York.[37]

To sum up, UAE foreign and economic policy elites are at ease with America and globalization. The success of those technocrats will depend on many factors that are beyond their control, but success they are determined to achieve.

3. UAE Religiopolitics: Balancing Mosque and State:

The UAE Constitution declares Islam as the religion of the state, and religion plays an important role in the UAE. The practice of Islam is on display throughout the country. The observance of Islamic and Arab customs are prevalent, with variation among Emirates that has historical antecedents in alliances with the Wahhabis in Central Arabia and the moderate interpretation of Islam of the Maliki Sunni School.[38]

However, with the rise of the new leadership, an attempt to maintain a separation between mosque and state is gradually unfolding. The UAE espouses a unique type of religiopolitics. Unlike the United States’ separation of religion and the state, the UAE holds both in a delicate balance. The state performs many religious functions such as mosque construction, overseeing religious institutions, recognizing religious holidays, and otherwise managing religion. Moreover, the state enforces societal observance of religious rules and metes out punishment for violations of these rules. The state manages the Sharia courts that adjudicate Islamic laws, especially in personal and family matters as well as criminal cases, while maintaining civil courts for commercial disputes and the like.

When it comes to religious extremism or political Islam the UAE does not pull punches, however. The crackdown on politicizing Islam, whether Al-Qaeda, Da’esh, or Muslim Brotherhood, is done equally. The Muslim Brotherhood is considered by the UAE as the incubator of all extreme offshoots like Da’esh and Al-Qaeda. The UAE Ambassador to Washington, Al Otaiba, penned an article in December 2015 in Foreign Policy magazine arguing forcefully for the fight against religious extremism and noting that “[c]reating an ideology of openness, optimism, and opportunity in the Gulf is a key component to defeating extremism.” The UAE intends, the Ambassador averred, to bring great efforts to defeating radicalism, “the most destabilizing and dangerous force since fascism.”[39]

4. Burden Sharing and International Security

The UAE military preparedness and procurement of high-tech weapon systems strengthens the image of self-reliance and UAE’s readiness to share in the defense of the region. UAE’s participation in peacekeeping missions and reconstruction operations alongside the US enforces the UAE’s image as a country willing to shoulder its responsibility to international peace and security.

On November 9, 2014, The Washington Post published an article portraying the UAE as a “Little Sparta.”[40] A UAE-produced film by this title sends a strong message to the world about UAE military capability and the role of the UAE’s armed forces in the war against Daesh (ISIL).[41]

The UAE is the only Arab country to participate in six military campaigns led by the US in the past quarter of a century. In 1990, the UAE dispatched forces with the US-led coalition of Desert Shield/Storm in the efforts to liberate Kuwait. The UAE sent an expeditionary force as part of the coalition “Restore Hope” led by the US in Somalia in 1992. The UAE was at the forefront of supporting NATO’s military intervention in Bosnia and Kosovo and took part in the security and stabilization efforts in both countries.[42]

When the US declared war on the Taliban in the aftermath of the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the UAE contributed with a military contingent to Afghanistan; including “combat operations in Afghanistan in which UAE aircraft provided close air support to American troops on the ground.”[43] UAE Special Forces fight alongside the US. Libya was another battlefield where the US and the UAE cooperated, along with Western powers, to prevent Colonel Gadhafi from committing carnage against innocent civilians. Last but not least, the UAE air force was part of the international coalition led by the US to fight ISIS.[44]

AL HAMRA TRAINING CENTER, United Arab Emirates-Tanks belonging to the UAE 33rd Combat Group conduct an attack during a bilateral training event between the US and UAE forces. (Photo Credit: Capt. Scott Kuhn)

In addition, the UAE maintains a strong defense pact with the US by which the latter deploys around 5000 personnel in different locations throughout the country. Al Dhafra Air Base in Abu Dhabi has about 3800 US strong and host to several aircraft squadrons such as the F-22 Raptor and KC-10, RQ-4 Global Hawk. The base is the busiest for US surveillance flights worldwide. The Port of Jebel Ali in Dubai is another facility that the US navy visits regularly and has the capacity to berth U.S. aircraft carriers. Fujairah Naval Base, which is located outside the Gulf, provides logistical support for the US Navy should it need a land bridge to Jebel Ali, if the Strait of Hormuz is closed.[45]

When it comes to counterterrorism, the US has a strong partner in the UAE. The US State Department’s Country Reports on Terrorism 2018 recognized UAE efforts in countering terrorism. The US Department of Homeland Security has worked for years with its counterpart in the UAE to enhance capacity for border security.[46]

For the UAE, ideological extremism is part and parcel of terrorism. To defeat the latter you need to combat the former. The promotion of moderate Islam and forging a worldwide alliance between moderate Muslim scholars as an effort to combat violent extremism fall within these efforts.

5. Women’s Empowerment

Women’s inclusion in public life and emancipation is another area of contrast with the region. Sheikh Zayed saw the role of women as important in the development of human resources. He always emphasized that the real wealth of a nation is the human who is the “principal pillar for building a good society.” Zayed stated that “I am a supporter of women; I always say it to affirm her right to work and complete participation in building her country.”[47]

In October 2017, the government saw the largest restructuring in its history when nine women were appointed as cabinet ministers, 28 percent of the cabinet. According to the UAE Government official portal, women’s participation in the cabinet is among the highest in the world, “reflecting the strong position reached by the Emirati women. This way, the UAE empowers and promotes the political inclusion of all.”[48]

Scholars from the region have analyzed the phenomenon of women’s rise to power in the UAE recently. Ilhem Allagui and Abeer Al-Najjar see women’s empowerment as a way to brand UAE as distinct from the rest of the region and “to change stereotypes about UAE Muslim women and speak about their modernity.” The authors use the case of a UAE female fighter pilot, Mariam Al Mansouri, who led her squadron to combat ISIS. They see how the local media choreographed the image of Al Mansouri as a representative of the new Emirati woman. Although perhaps not representative of all Emirati women, it shows where the UAE intends to head. The message is quite clear and the intended audience is the local and Western population alike. “It is also” the authors emphasize, “a message about differentiation and setting one’s nation apart from the others—in this case, the neighboring Gulf countries.” [49]

Hissa Al Dhaheri, a UAE scholar, sees the idea of women’s empowerment as a utilization to create a cultural identity and as a tool for nation-building. The rapid development of the UAE has to contest with globalization and modernity that the country attempts to attain. More than a nation-building tool, the emancipation of women is looked upon as a measure of development, “a barometer to indicate change and modernity.”[50]

Although Al Dhaheri is rather skeptical about the change in women’s status, which is still constrained by patriarchal powers and a school curriculum that reinforces gendered roles for pupils, the “process nevertheless creates opportunities for women and aids in changing the social setting that might not have been possible otherwise.”[51]


Since the Dubai Port debacle in 2006, the UAE has deftly constructed an image that altered its perception by others and set it apart from other GCC countries. The UAE political progress and development, including the empowerment process of the general populace, and women specifically, enhance the image of the UAE as a modernizing country. The increasing incorporation of the population in the political process and augmenting the prospects of representative government bolster the UAE’s image in Washington.

The rise of new leadership in the UAE emphasized development, open economy, empowerment, and military prowess. Emirati women assumed high profile roles. Religious tolerance is another area in which the UAE won plaudits. The expanding levels of tolerance towards other cultures, religions and ethnic groups have become the hallmark of the country. The UAE declared 2019 as the Year of Tolerance “to highlight the UAE as a global capital for tolerance” and act as “a bridge of communication between peoples of different cultures in a respectful environment.”[52]

The UAE has its share of critics who cast doubt about the UAE experience; some argue that reforms and empowerment policies are designed either to further state agendas or tokenism to impress the US and the West and garner more support and international legitimacy.[53] Others criticize the UAE for human rights violations and the limitation of political participation. Some view the UAE as biting off more than it can chew, only to hit a wall in its rise as a regional power. “The UAE decided it would be a leader in shaping the Middle East. Now it’s made a dramatic U-turn.” [54]

On January 9, 2020, The New York Times Magazine published a feature article on MBZ by Robert F Worth titled “Mohammed bin Zayed’s Dark Vision of the Middle East’s Future”. Although the article does not contain much new information, it is not without insights. The author’s depiction of the UAE as a liberal autocracy is right on the money. The fact that The New York Times would publish two articles profiling MBZ within a few months is indicative of the fascination with the man and the country he rules.[55]

Officials in the UAE are well aware of the importance of the relationship between the two countries; and are sanguine about its future and prosperity. Ambassador Al Otaiba in an interview on January 13, 2020 noted, “I always say that if you look at the US-UAE relations as a stock it would be rising very consistently with the exception of a couple little blips”.[56]

The UAE seems to have persuaded Washington of its importance and its distinction from other GCC states. The future of the relationship will depend on how much the UAE can do in pursuing policies in alignment with Washington, and how much it can sustain the positive image it has carved for itself as a progressive and forward-looking country. As Abu Dhabi strengthens its ties with the US, criticisms will mount from rival states that will keep gnawing at this relationship. How UAE foreign policy elites will navigate the troubling waters of Washington diplomacy will leave a lasting imprint on the relationship.End.



Dr. Albadr Alshateri was a professor at the UAE National Defense College in Abu Dhabi. He earned a Ph.D from the University of Michigan in comparative politics, international relations and political economy as well as two masters degrees in political science and in Middle Eastern and North African Studies. He holds a BA from Indiana University, where he studied political science and Near Eastern Languages and Cultures, as well as a certificate in African studies. Dr. Alshateri has received numerous awards, including a prize for his dissertation entitled “The Political Economy Of State Formation: The United Arab Emirates in Comparative Perspective”, from the Society for Arab Gulf Studies (USA). Dr. Alshateri has contributed articles to Al Ittihad Newspaper (Abu Dhabi), Al Khaleej Newspaper (Sharjah), The National (Abu Dhabi) and Gulf News (Dubai).




[1] “Top Ports Deal Myths and Falsehoods,” Media Matters, March 3, 2006. retrieved January 4, 2020.

[2] “Save us from our Politicians,” Newsweek, March 19, 2006. retrieved January 20, 2020.

[3] Ibid. See also Eben Kaplan, “The UAE Purchase of American Port Facilities,” Council on Foreign Relations, February 21, 2006, retrieved January 4, 2020.

[4] David E. Sanger, “Under Pressure, Dubai Company Drops Port Deal,” The New York Times, March 10, 2006. retrieved January 5, 2020.

[5] Caline Malek, “Barack Obama gives keynote address to World Government Summit in Dubai,” The National, February 8, 2016. retrieved on January 29, 2017.

[6] See the quite revealing interview of Obama in Jeffrey Goldberg’s “The Obama Doctrine,” The Atlantic April 2016. retrieved on January 29, 2017.

[7] Hillary Rodham Clinton, Hard Choices, New York: Simon and Schuster, 2014, p. 335.

[8] Calvert W. Jones, Bedouins into Bourgeois: Remaking Citizens for Globalization, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2017, p. 9, fn. 8.

[9] “In the UAE, the United States has a quiet, potent ally nicknamed ‘Little Sparta’,’’ The Washington Post, November 9, 2014. Retrieved on January 28, 2017.

[10] US Department of Defense, “Remarks by Secretary Carter at the 2016 IISS Manama Dialogue, Manama, Bahrain,” December 10, 2016. retrieved October 27, 2019.

[11] Benjamin Siegel and Matthew Mosk, “Trump Aide Submitted Drafts of 2016 ‘America First’ Energy Speech to UAE For Edits, Emails Show,” ABC News,

July 30, 2019. retrieved January 5, 2020.

[12] “Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Receives Call from US President Donald Trump,” The National, March 7, 2019. retrieved January 5, 2020.

[13] Kate Kizer, “The UAE’s Dominant Role in Trump-Era Foreign Policy,” The American Prospect August 2, 2019. retrieved January 5, 2020.

[14] The UAE is lowest in all GCC countries except for oil poor Bahrain. See Tim Callen, Reda Cherif, Fuad Hasanov, AmgadHegazy, and Padamja Khandelwal, “Economic Diversification in the GCC: Past, Present, and Future,” IMF Staff Discussion Note, December 2014, passim.

[15] Lubna Bint Khalid Al Qasimi, “Perspective: Tolerance— A Precious National Resource,” in Melondena Stephens Balakrishnan et. al. (eds.) UAE: Public Policy Perspectives, London: Emerald Publishing Limited, 2017, p. 7.

[16] Samir Salama, “How the UAE Actively Promotes Religious Tolerance, Peaceful Coexistence,” Gulf News, July 8, 2017., retrieved July 8, 2017.

[17] Ibid

[18] Ibid.

[19] Khalid S. Almezaini, The UAE and Foreign Policy: Foreign Aid, Identities and Interests, London: Routledge, 2012, pp. 35-36.

[20] Cited in ibid, p. 37.

[21] Gaith A. Abdulla, The Making of UAE Foreign Policy: A ‘Dynamic Process Model’, The Emirates Occasional Papers, 84, The Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 2014, p. 24.

[22] Ibid, p. 26

[23] POINTS FOR A/USTR NOVELLI’S FTA BILATS, WikiLeaks, March 2, 2005. , retrieved January 29, 2017.

[24] Ibid.

[25] Robert M Gates, Duty: Memoirs of a Secretary at War, (New York: Vintage, 2015), p. 395.

[26] Leon Panetta, Worthy Fights: A Memoir of Leadership in War and Peace, (New York: Penguin Books, 2015), pp. 411-12.

[27] “The Most Powerful Arab Ruler isn’t M.B.S. it’s M.B.Z,” The New York Times, June 2, 2019. retrieved October 4, 2019.

[28] See Ryan Grim and Akbar Shahid Ahmed in “His Town,” The Huffington Post Retrieved January 28, 2017. See also a cable sent from Abu Dhabi to the Department of the State describing Al Otaiba as “A smart interlocutor with a firm grasp on the

issues he addresses, Yousef’s portfolio has become increasingly broad and includes some of the UAE’s most pressing political, military, security and economic issues.” In “The UAE’s Young New Ambassador,” WikiLeaks, March 27, 2008, Retrieved January 28, 2017

[29] Ryan Grim and Akbar Shahid Ahmed in “His Town,”

[30] Omar Saif Ghobash, “Advice for Young Muslims: How to Survive in an Age of Extremism and Islamophobia,” Foreign Affairs, January/February 2017., retrieved on July 22, 2017.

[31] Sultan Al Qassemi, “U.A.E’s Reformed Foreign Ministry a Pioneer in the Region,” The Middle East Institute, April 11, 2017., retrieved July 23, 2017.

[32] Ibid.

[33] “How Dubai became a model for free trade, openness and ambition,” The Economist, June 21, 2018. Retrieved on September 29, 2019.

[34] Ibid, 402-3.

[35] “Dubai wins right to host World Expo 2020 bid,” Khaleej Times, November 28, 2013., retrieved July 23, 2017.

[36] Kheir Al-Kodmany, Understanding Tall Buildings: A Theory of Placemaking, (London: Taylor & Francis, 2017) p.1 and 13

[37] See ibid.

[38] Andrea B. Rugh, The Political Culture of Leadership in the United Arab Emirates, New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2010, p. 125.

[39] Yousef Al Otaiba, “A Vision for a Moderate, Modern Muslim World,” Foreign Policy, December 2, 2015.

retrieved on October 13, 2019.

[40] “In the UAE, the United States has a Quiet, Potent Ally Nicknamed ‘Little Sparta’,’’

[41] See the storyline in retrieved on January 28, 2017.

[42] Embassy of the UAE, “Key Areas of Bilateral Cooperation,” retrieved October 13, 2019.

[43] Matthew Wallin, U.S. Military Bases and Facilities in the Middle East, American Security Project, June 2018, p. 10. retrieved January 7, 2020

[44] Embassy of the UAE, “Key Areas of Bilateral Cooperation”.

[45] Matthew Wallin, U.S. Military Bases, p. 10. retrieved January 7, 2020

[46] Ibid.

[47] Jamal S. Al-Suwaidi, Woman and Development (Abu Dhabi: the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, 2019), p. 172, in Arabic

[48] UAE Government Portal, “Women”. accessed October 15, 2019.

[49] Ilhem Allagui and Abeer Al-Najjar, “From Women Empowerment to Nation Branding: A Case Study From the United Arab Emirates,” International Journal of Communication 12(2018): 79.

[50] “Women and Nation Building: The Case of the United Arab Emirates,” Hawwa: Journal of Women of the Middle East and the Islamic World, 7 (2009): 272 & 282.

[51] Ibid, p. 299.

[52] UAE Government Portal, “Tolerance initiatives,” accessed on October 22, 2019.

[53]  For example, Christopher Davidson, After the Sheikhs: The Coming Collapse of the Gulf Monarchies, (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015).

[54] Hassan Hassan, “The Emiratis Bit Off More Than They Could Chew,” Foreign Policy, September 9, 2019. retrieved October 17, 2019.

[55] retrieved January 13, 2020. The first article was published in June 2019 under the title “The Most Powerful Arab Ruler,” cited above.

[56] Rebecca Anne Proctor, “Inside the Home of Yousef and Abeer Al Otaiba,” Harper’s Bazaar Arabia, January 13, 2020. retrieved January 22, 2020.

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