Counterterrorism Strategies in UAE

Nowadays, almost all countries have to deal with different threats to their security. The most dangerous one among them is terrorism. Everybody knows that currently, this problem is much more acute and urgent. Every state endeavors to defeat the source of terrorism (various terrorist groups, such as Al-Qaeda, Islamic State (“Daesh”) and others), or at least to deter the aggressors and protect themselves. Unfortunately, the major source of global terror is the Middle East, and it will remain so for a long time in the future. Western countries can do little to solve this problem. Therefore, it means that the main responsibility rests with the countries of the Middle East. The United Arab Emirates, like other nearby states, is directly influenced by new splashes of violence and cruelty. Terrorism violates both domestic and international laws, thus endangering the global community. Therefore, every country concerned about the threat should devise its own strategy to protect the community and values from the said phenomenon.

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Since the anti-ISIS strategy of the USA and its Arabic allies failed, the Heads of Government believe that ISIS will direct its forces against the UAE. The government of the UAE says that it made several efforts to suspend the development of the oil-dependent economy of ISIS, cut off financing, and block all the significant sources of incomings. “Additionally, in 2015, the UAE has undertaken a more prominent role in countering extremism within the greater Middle East. As such, the continued elevated regional security threat has the potential to affect security in the UAE” (“United Arab Emirates 2016 crime & safety report: Abu Dhabi,” para. 11). On the other hand, ISIS has threatened to cause bloodshed in the key financial centers of the UAE – Dubai, and Abu-Dhabi. Now, the representatives of the ISIS terrorist group try to promote subversion activities within the country. High levels of terrorism within the country will pose a threat for every resident. That means that the key strategy of this terrorist group is to promote disturbance and violation of the order. In its vision for 2030, the UAE says that it is a strong, peaceful, and prosperous society, embracing a dynamic multicultural world. These aims can be reached by taking the following measures: 1) providing non-interference in the domestic affairs of the UAE; 2) protecting the borders of the UAE and its allies; 3) defeating the enemy which is represented by ISIS. According to Katzman (2014), “The UAE’s willingness to help defeat the Islamic State appears to be an outgrowth not only of the UAE threat perception of the Islamic State organization but also its apparent frustration at the lack of resolution of the Syria crisis that began in 2011. Now the variety of ways and means can be used for both protecting and fighting the threat in question.”

Diplomatic and military methods are the most constructive in defeating Daesh. They include the cooperation of States in the spheres mentioned above. Therefore, the participation of the United Arab Emirates in all the regional and international counter-terrorist organizations is of the highest importance. It must be developed further. The UAE has founded the Global Counterterrorism Forum. “The International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, known as Hedayah, was formally launched in Abu Dhabi in December 2012” (“Country reports on terrorism 2014,” 2015, p. 218). The Global CVE Expo 2014 was held in the UAE. More than 200 politicians in high positions, big entrepreneurs, technology specialists, economic and political experts attended this meeting to work on new ideas, programs, plans of action aimed at combating violent extremist outbursts. Cooperation with other states plays a great role. Therefore, the UAE is among such countries as Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and Bahrain in participating in airstrikes against ISIS.

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Since the UAE is the financial center of the region, it has vast opportunities to counter the financing of terrorism. However, during a variable period, the country was unable to freeze and confiscate terrorist funds. After that, the Federal Law on Terrorist Crimes 2014 was amended. The amendments authorized the Governor of the Central Bank and the Public Prosecutor to arrest assets, which could be used for terrorist needs. Both organs work in cooperation. The first action should be taken by the Governor, who freezes suspicious funds for seven days. The Public Prosecutor must be informed about the fact during this period. If the Prosecutor considers such funds connected with terrorist activity, then he will be allowed to prolong this period for investigation. If the connection to the terrorist activity of the funds is proven, all the assets can be seized by the court.

In July 1999, the Central Bank instituted a Financial Information Unit, consisting of only 6 employees, but it was extended to 12 persons after the 9/11 events in the USA. According to the Central Bank of the UAE (“Anti-money laundering – New law,” n. d.), the activity of this institution is now under the regulation of the New Anti-Money Laundering Law, which requires the FIU to establish a special database and update it on a regular basis. The database information should be used for facilitating investigations, conducted by law enforcement bodies. In this case, international cooperation is not excluded, since information on suspicious transactions can be transferred to the relevant organs of other countries. It is clear that such information can be used only for the purposes set forth in the said Law, which are combating money laundering, terrorism financing, etc. When FIU analyzes all the reports on suspicious transactions, they may refer to the Public Prosecutor to coordinate their further steps. On the other hand, the Prosecutor himself can consult with the FIU concerning a particular subject matter. It must also be taken into account that all the criminals and persons connected to the crimes mentioned above in any way will be subject to strict sanctions and punishments, including imprisonment and fines.

It is clear that the government needs large amounts of money to implement different counter-terrorist roadmaps and take the appropriate security measures. The UAE cannot rely on petrodollars in combating terrorist activity. To diversify the economy and prevent this crisis, the government of the UAE began to look for alternative ways of development and new methods of attracting foreign investments. The first important step is to transmit the money received from the sales of oil to different spheres of the economy. It will enforce the industry power of the state. The formation of a free economic zone in the territory of the country turned out to be most successful in that process. Dubai Internet City and Dubai Media City were the first free-trade zones. It is very profitable to invest money in the tourism infrastructure; it will convince more foreigners, especially Europeans, to visit the country. Further development of the UAE airlines will also bring profits. There are two key institutions that are responsible for combating terrorism – the State Directorates both in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. The State Security Court is an important institution of the judicial system. It is responsible for settling security issues.

With the view of backing training academies, the governmental bodies concerned with immigration and customs signed several Memoranda on Cooperation. These MOCs are still in force. The performance of the country`s law enforcement bodies, border security, and judicial systems is undermined due to the lack of human resources. It is caused by the policy to employ citizens only (11 percent of the population). That is why it will be quite difficult to prevent any terrorist activity. However, the government is vigilant concerning any possible threat.

It is strategically important to defeat terrorism to support and perform the plan embodied in Vision 2030. This program contains different goals and aims which must be achieved by 2030. Providing a secure and safe place for life is the most significant among them. It relates to all the UAE cities, especially those of great political, economic, administrative, and cultural significance. In Vision 2030, it is noted that the government needs to ensure that Abu Dhabi remains safe and secure since it does not stop attracting people from different countries, regions, fields of occupation, etc. According to Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 (2011), they created the Abu Dhabi Safety & Security Planning Manual to reach their security goals. It is aimed at providing safe conditions for development and prosperity. The Manual was created in a period of nine-month. “In 2011 Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development and Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council stated that the initiative included a major benchmarking study that, for the first time, examined both community safety and protective security practices at an international, regional and domestic scale” (“Abu Dhabi Vision 2030,” 2011, p. 201). “The Manual integrates the needs of different agencies and its content shall inform developers, owners and a range of professionals, including urban planners and designers, transport planners and safety and security specialists to create a solid foundation for safe, secure and sustainable communities” (“Abu Dhabi Vision 2030,” 2011, p. 201).

In conclusion, the threat of terrorism is exceptionally dangerous. The UAE is not the only country that must deal with it. Nobody knows how to combat such activity. That is why regional states try to put all their efforts together to come out as a united front. There is no certain method of reaching the goals mentioned above. However, the United Arab Emirates endeavors to develop its power in different ways and with the help of all possible means. Therefore, the United Arab Emirates is a significant ally in the international war against terrorist activity.


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