ABU DHABI (Middle East Eye) – An analysis of Foreign Agent Registration Act (Fara) documents filed by more than two dozen lobbying firms representing Emirati clients between 2020 and 2021 has found that foreign agents working for the UAE reported over 10,000 political activities, including making contacts with Congress, Senate, and major media outlets.
The report said that amount was “a high number relative to other similar lobbies such as Saudi Arabia”.
Published by the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, the report also found that Emirati clients spent more than $64mn on lobbying firms in that same period.
The Quincy Institute’s reporting further found that the 25 lobbying firms and the registered foreign agents representing UAE interests had given more than $500,000 to members of Congress they contacted on behalf of their Emirati clients. In some cases, the contact and the contribution were only days apart.
“On numerous issues — from the UAE’s military intervention in Yemen, to the Abraham Accords, to high-value weapons sales, to the soft-power boosting Expo 2020 Dubai — the UAE’s lobbyists have been working on overdrive to push U.S. foreign policy toward their clients’ interests,” Ben Freeman, a research fellow at the Quincy Institute, said in a statement.
The analysis comes weeks after the Washington Post reported that U.S. intelligence officials said that the UAE attempted to manipulate the American political system, despite being a close political ally.
The officials said the UAE exploited vulnerabilities within the U.S. governance system to ensure American foreign policy was favorable to the Emiratis.
The vulnerabilities mentioned included using influential lobbying firms and lax enforcement of disclosure laws designed to stop the interference of foreign governments.
Since 2016, the UAE has spent more than $154mn on lobbyists, according to records from the U.S. Department of Justice.
The UAE has also spent hundreds of millions of dollars on donations to American universities and think tanks, some of whom have produced policy papers favorable to the UAE.
The UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, previously told the Washington Post in an interview that he was “proud of the UAE’s influence and good standing in the U.S.”
Another investigation from the Washington Post, and the Project on Government Oversight, found that hundreds of retired U.S. military officers, including former generals and admirals, used their military backgrounds to ink lucrative deals working for the UAE and other foreign governments.