United Arab Emirates

Introduction:

In 2020 a normalization agreement was signed between Israel and the UAE, establishing official diplomatic relations between the countries for the first time. That said, since 2007 Israeli cyber and security companies have been operating in different ways in the UAE[1].

Israel - UAE Relations:

Historically, UAE countries were part of the Arab boycott of Israel, as well as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) boycott since 1973. While the Arab boycott was officially lifted as part of the Oslo accords in the early 90’s, only in 2020 were diplomatic relations established between the countries[2]. This normalization agreement focused on economic, energy, and military trade between the countries[3].

Military relations:

In 2007, the UAE contracted 4D Security Solutions, a U.S.-based firm headed by an Israeli expat, Mati Kochavi, to roll out a “smart” surveillance systems throughout Abu Dhabi[4]. In reality, a crucial part of the technology was provided by an Israel-based subsidiary, Kochavi’s Logic Industries. (In 2015, the company laid off over a third of its Israeli workforce in order to maintain a contract with a Gulf client)[5]. This project, completed in 2016, resulted in “Falcon Eye,” one of the most intrusive city surveillance systems in the world[6]. NSO Group, an Israeli company that operates the spyware Pegasus, has also operated in the UAE since 2016.

Usage of Israeli Arms:

In 2016, the UAE used Israeli spyware, Pegasus, operated by the infamous NSO Group, in a hacking attempt against Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati human rights defender[7]. Today, Mansoor is serving a 10-year sentence for his human rights work. DarkMatter, an Emirati cyber intelligence program engaged in surveillance of other governments, militants, and human rights activists critical of the monarchy, also has ties to Israel[8].

Human Rights Violations:

In 2019 Amnesty International documented several cases in which the rights of detainees were disregarded most often by the State Security Agency (SSA). Arrests without warrants, torture and disappearances were all documented in relations to detainees, and especially political opposition. The authorities continued to arbitrarily detain and prosecute peaceful dissenters, and opposition voices, including many journalists.[9]. While no new executions were reported, courts continued to issue new death sentences, primarily against foreign nationals for violent crimes.

Externally, the UAE, alongside Saudi Arabia, is a co-leader of the coalition conducting armed intervention in the armed conflict in Yemen since 2015. The coalition is implicated in war crimes and other serious violations of international law and gross human rights violations[10].

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United Arab Emirates

In 2020 a normalization agreement was signed between Israel and the UAE, establishing official diplomatic relations between the countries for the first time. That said, since 2007 Israeli cyber and security companies have been operating in different ways in the UAE[1].

Historically, UAE countries were part of the Arab boycott of Israel, as well as the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) boycott since 1973. While the Arab boycott was officially lifted as part of the Oslo accords in the early 90’s, only in 2020 were diplomatic relations established between the countries[2]. This normalization agreement focused on economic, energy, and military trade between the countries[3].

In 2007, the UAE contracted 4D Security Solutions, a U.S.-based firm headed by an Israeli expat, Mati Kochavi, to roll out a “smart” surveillance systems throughout Abu Dhabi[4]. In reality, a crucial part of the technology was provided by an Israel-based subsidiary, Kochavi’s Logic Industries. (In 2015, the company laid off over a third of its Israeli workforce in order to maintain a contract with a Gulf client)[5]. This project, completed in 2016, resulted in “Falcon Eye,” one of the most intrusive city surveillance systems in the world[6]. NSO Group, an Israeli company that operates the spyware Pegasus, has also operated in the UAE since 2016.

In 2016, the UAE used Israeli spyware, Pegasus, operated by the infamous NSO Group, in a hacking attempt against Ahmed Mansoor, an Emirati human rights defender[7]. Today, Mansoor is serving a 10-year sentence for his human rights work. DarkMatter, an Emirati cyber intelligence program engaged in surveillance of other governments, militants, and human rights activists critical of the monarchy, also has ties to Israel[8].

In 2019 Amnesty International documented several cases in which the rights of detainees were disregarded most often by the State Security Agency (SSA). Arrests without warrants, torture and disappearances were all documented in relations to detainees, and especially political opposition. The authorities continued to arbitrarily detain and prosecute peaceful dissenters, and opposition voices, including many journalists.[9]. While no new executions were reported, courts continued to issue new death sentences, primarily against foreign nationals for violent crimes.

Externally, the UAE, alongside Saudi Arabia, is a co-leader of the coalition conducting armed intervention in the armed conflict in Yemen since 2015. The coalition is implicated in war crimes and other serious violations of international law and gross human rights violations[10].