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Gulf States investing heavily in influence


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At a time when the UAE refuses to take calls from US President Joe Biden, hosts Russian President Vladimir Putin, and cuts oil production during a worldwide energy crisis; many observers wonder whether the Emirates is a friend or foe of the West. All the while, the ambiguous Gulf ally has been stealthily buying influence in Washington and currying bipartisan favour strategically, to keep US policy friendly despite the UAE’s unmistakable lack of reciprocity.


Radha Stirling, CEO of Due Process International and leading Gulf expert, explains, “The UAE has become increasingly savvy about the dynamics of political influence in the United States. They have thoroughly mapped the corridors of power, and navigate them with remarkable dexterity. There is no corner in the market of influence where the UAE has not set up shop. This includes millions of dollars paid to PR firms like the Glover Park Group, Terakeet, and TRG; spending over $150 million on Washington lobbyists in the past 7 years, and over $1 billion gifted to American universities like Harvard, Georgetown, and MIT.


“The UAE has also understood that lobbying is not the only avenue for political influence in Washington, but that think tanks can be equally effective vehicles for pushing favourable policies. For example, the Emirates is among the top donors to one of the most influential think tanks in Washington, the Atlantic Council. The UAE embassy donated at least $1 million to the Council last year, according to its annual report; and the Emirates’ Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation gave between $100,000 and $250,000 as well. The state-owned Mubadala Investment Company gave between $100,000 and $250,000 to the think tank; and the