UAE shuts office of US research institute RAND

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The United Arab Emirates has shut down the Abu Dhabi office of the RAND Corporation, the American policy research institute, in the latest of several closures of foreign research institutions and think tanks in the Gulf Arab state this year.

The UAE, a major oil exporter and regional business hub, has not seen the unrest that has ousted autocratic Arab rulers elsewhere, but analysts and diplomats say the US ally is anxious to prevent any instability spreading to its turf.

In March, the UAE closed two international think-tanks promoting democracy overseas, Germany's Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) and the US-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI), citing licensing irregularities.

"We were asked by the authorities in Abu Dhabi to close the office," Jeffrey Hiday, director at RAND's office for media relations, told Reuters in an emailed statement.

He declined to comment on the reason for the closure.

No UAE official was available for comment.

RAND has had a small representative office in Abu Dhabi since 2010, Hiday said, which "facilitated evidence-based research and analysis by RAND experts in such areas as education, public safety and environmental health".

The clients for RAND research were emirate- and federal-level government institutions, he said.

The closures of NDI and KAS caused consternation in Washington and Berlin. NDI is loosely affiliated with the US Democratic Party, while KAS has close links with German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union (CDU).

A spokesman for KAS said in April that the group, which did not have a licence, had been trying to obtain one for the past two years and was in Abu Dhabi at the invitation of the emirate's crown prince.

Merkel herself told reporters that UAE officials had said they were closing all Western foundations in the Gulf state.

The Abu Dhabi Gallup Center, which was a branch of the US polling and research firm, also closed down earlier this year.

Over the past year the UAE has shown little tolerance of home-grown dissent, detaining more than 60 local Islamists, who the authorities say are members of the Muslim Brotherhood and were plotting to overthrow the government.

In recent days at least another four people have been arrested in what human rights campaigners said might be part of a crackdown on online dissent and a tightening of the Gulf Arab state's Internet law.

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Posted by: Hisham

Think Tanks are not new to Middle East; these organisations conducts research and engages in advocacy in public policy in areas such as political strategy, social policy, economy, science or technology issues, industrial or business policies and then overthrows the governments.
Many think tanks are non-profit organizations, while RAND is funded by US government. Some think tanks are clearly partisan in purpose. Others are more issue-oriented and promote social and economic reforms.
About 1,815 think tanks organisations from USA and Europe are directly connected to Illumicorp organisation.

Posted by: Abdul hafeez Sheikh

I think this step is reasonable as the research organization like RAND need to follow the rules and regulations of the host country .

Posted by: zuzo

@procan:why do i sense a discontent and discomfort tone in the comment u have posted,u should be happy if some one wants to be independent and do what they can best without any outside influence.

Posted by: procan

It is my sincere hope this is not the early stages of a change in the relationship with the UAE and the Western Group .Of course the UAE must do what is best for there people. We have enjoyed a great relation ship and are hopeful moving forward that it may continue. This Canadian wishes nothing but the best to all the people of the UAE and there Royal Highness's .

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