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]. Since the agreement Israel and the EU conduct close official military ties. 

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]

In the nine months after the two countries signed the normalization agreement at the White House, Israel and the UAE have signed extensive trade and cooperation deals, and bilateral trade is already expected to have exceeded $354 million. More than 200,000 Israeli tourists have traveled to the UAE, the Israeli Foreign Ministry reported.[27]

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 operated in the UAE since 2016.[11].

UAE’s Ministry of Interior since reportedly used hacking technology of the Israeli cyber company Cellebrite since 2011.[12]. Cellebrite signed a deal in Abu Dhabi in 2020, Globes reported. The deal is estimated to be worth $3 million, and was apparently signed with a government agency in Abu Dhabi.[13]. Globes reported that the deal was brokered by former Israeli Mossad executive David Meidan. In July 2021 Cellebrite published a job offer for a Director of Strategic Accounts to be located in the UAE.[14].

In November 2021 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Emirati defense conglomerate EDGE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop advanced uncrewed surface vessels. Under the MoU, the companies will jointly design a ‘first-in-class’ series of 170 modular uncrewed surface vessels (m-USV) to be used for all types of military and commercial applications. EDGE’s entity ADSB will collaborate with IAI to develop these USVs.[29]

In November 2021 Elbit Systems launched a new venture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The new subsidiary, Elbit Systems Emirates (ESE), will seek to foster a long-term cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, oversee customization of solutions to operational needs of end users and lead the transfer of technologies to local partners.

In January 2022 Elbit Systems announced its United Arab Emirates-based subsidiary was awarded a $53 million deal to supply airborne defense and electronic warfare systems for the UAE Air Force’s tanker aircraft. The five-year deal includes delivery of a multi-turret Direct Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) capability.[28].

Official Visits

June 2021: Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid made a state visit in the United Arab Emirates for the inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi.[27]

October 2021: The head of the Emirati air force, Ibrahim Nasser Muhammed al-Alawi, arrived in Israel this week in a landmark first visit to observe the military’s massive biennial Blue Flag exercise, an international aerial drill being held this month over the Negev desert.[22]

November 2021: The head of the Israeli air force, Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin met with his Emirati counterpart and visited the Dubai Airshow in Dubai.[23]

Joint Training

In April 2021 Israeli fighter jets flew alongside Emirati aircraft as part of a major international aerial exercise hosted by Greece, simulating in-air dogfights, large airstrikes and rescue operations, the Israeli military reported.[19]

In November 2021 Forces from the UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the US participated in a joint maritime exercise in the Red Sea.[18]

Arms Fairs

IDEX 2021:

Israeli companies that exhibited at IDEX 2021 arms fair in Abu Dhabi: Aeronautics, Amicell, Attenti, Avnon, Beezz, Bird Aerosystems, Camero, Controp, Double Shoot, Edgy Bees, Elbit Systems, Emtan, Ewave, Valert, Hornbill, Plasan, Imco, International Intelligence Agency, ISDEF, ISM Safes, IAI, Israel Shipyards, IWI, Jenovice, Lior, Marom, Vikisense, Ophir Optics, Phantom Technologies, Rafael, Reshef Graf, RP, Sibat, SK Group, Smartshooter, Steadicopter, Trinity Group, Unirom, Uniscope, Uvision, Video Inform, Vidisco.[20]

Skylock’s DOME system was exhibited in February 2021 in the UAE at IDEX and afterwards several deals were signed. UAE company IGG has signed a deal. 

IDEX organizers signed an agreement with the organizers of The Israel Defence Exhibition (ISDEF) to coordinate Israeli participation in the conference in Abu Dhabi. As part of the agreement, companies from the Gulf’s defense sector will also take part in ISDEF 2021/22.[21]

 

Dubai Airshow 2021:

Israeli companies that exhibited at Dubai Airshow: Astronautics, Elbit, Elta, IAI, Nir-Or, Rafael, Sibat, Sinbad, Tomer, Uvision.[24]

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].

It was revealed that Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the runaway daughter of the ruler of Dubai, was captured in 2018 with the help of Pegasus spyware.[15].

In December 2020, University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab disclosed that Saudi and Emirati authorities used Pegasus to hack 36 Al Jazeera journalists.[16].

In 2021 the Guardian reported that more than 400 people from the UK appeared in a leaked list of numbers targeted by the Spyware Pegasus between 2017-2019. The principal government responsible for selecting the UK numbers is United Arab Emirates, so the report.[17].

Those with UK numbers appearing on UAE’s Pegasus list include[17]. :

  • Lady Uddin, an independent member of the House of Lords.
  • A lawyer working for a London law firm advising Princess Haya. Haya is embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Sheikh Mohammed in the family division of the high court of justice.
  • John Chipman, the chief executive of the defence thinktank the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
  • Matthew Hedges, a British academic who was detained in the UAE for seven months in 2018. His number first appears in the data while he was in the UK, before embarking on his trip.
  • Roula Khalaf, the editor of the Financial Times
 
In November 2021 the Newspaper TheMarker reported that NSO Group has sold its Pegasus spyware to two UAE leaders: the ruler of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed, and the ruler of Dubai Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum.[25]

In October 2021 England’s High Court ruled that Sheikh al-Maktoum gave “express or implied authority” to hack his ex-wife’s phone using Israeli Pegasus software. Also hacked were five members of her entourage, and two of the princess’ lawyers.[26]

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].

Sales Records Table:

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1. ^ https://www.972mag.com/israel-uae-deal-arms-industry/

2. ^ https://www.972mag.com/gulf-oil-israel-arms-industry/

3. ^ https://www.timesofisrael.com/full-text-of-the-treaty-of-peace-signed-by-israel-and-the-united-arab-emirates/

4. ^ https://www.washingtoninstitute.org/policy-analysis/gulf-cyber-cooperation-israel-balancing-threats-and-rights

5. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/business/logic-cuts-payroll-for-arab-client-1.5303483

6. ^ https://www.ohchr.org/Documents/Issues/RuleOfLaw/NegativeEffectsTerrorism/ICJHR.pdf

7. ^ https://www.middleeasteye.net/opinion/israel-uae-deal-two-police-state-solution

8. ^ https://www.nytimes.com/2018/08/31/world/middleeast/hacking-united-arab-emirates-nso-group.html

9. ^ https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/united-arab-emirates/report-united-arab-emirates/

10. ^ https://www.amnesty.org/en/countries/middle-east-and-north-africa/united-arab-emirates/report-united-arab-emirates/

11. ^ https://citizenlab.ca/2018/09/hide-and-seek-tracking-nso-groups-pegasus-spyware-to-operations-in-45-countries/

12. ^ https://www.vice.com/en/article/aekqjj/cellebrite-sold-phone-hacking-tech-to-repressive-regimes-data-suggests

13. ^ https://en.globes.co.il/en/article-cellebrite-1001346762

14. ^ https://www.cellebrite.com/en/about/careers/positions/?comeet_cat=sales&comeet_pos=CD.12E&comeet_all=all&rd (Last entrance: 29.07.2021)

15. ^ https://www.trtworld.com/magazine/the-role-of-the-uae-and-saudi-arabia-in-the-pegasus-spyware-saga-48861

16. ^ https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/21/al-jazeera-journalists-hacked-by-spyware-sold-by-israeli-firm

17. ^ https://www.theguardian.com/world/2021/jul/21/uae-linked-to-listing-of-hundreds-of-uk-phones-in-pegasus-project-leak

18. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-uae-bahrain-and-u-s-forces-conduct-first-joint-red-sea-military-drill-1.10375926

19. ^ https://www.timesofisrael.com/israeli-uae-fighter-jets-fly-together-in-large-international-exercise-in-greece/

20. ^ https://idexuae.ae/exhibitor/exhibitor-list/

21. ^ https://www.calcalistech.com/ctech/articles/0,7340,L-3855950,00.html

22. ^ https://www.timesofisrael.com/in-landmark-visit-uae-air-chief-in-israel-to-observe-blue-flag-exercise/

23. ^  https://www.ynetnews.com/article/byfs4davf

24. ^ https://www.dubaiairshow.aero/exhibitor-list

25. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/tech-news/.premium.HIGHLIGHT-two-uae-princes-each-got-their-own-personal-nso-spyware-1.10391909

26. ^ https://www.dw.com/en/uk-court-rules-dubai-ruler-hacked-ex-wifes-phone-with-pegasus/a-59429210

27. ^ https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/israel-s-foreign-minister-lapid-lands-in-uae-for-first-state-visit-1.9951084

28. ^ https://www.defensedaily.com/israels-elbit-systems-to-supply-dircm-ew-systems-for-uae-air-forces-tankers/international/ 

29. ^ https://www.naval-technology.com/news/iai-edge-agree-to-jointly-develop-modular-usv/

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 operated in the UAE since 2016.[11].

UAE’s Ministry of Interior since reportedly used hacking technology of the Israeli cyber company Cellebrite since 2011.[12]. Cellebrite signed a deal in Abu Dhabi in 2020, Globes reported. The deal is estimated to be worth $3 million, and was apparently signed with a government agency in Abu Dhabi.[13]. Globes reported that the deal was brokered by former Israeli Mossad executive David Meidan. In July 2021 Cellebrite published a job offer for a Director of Strategic Accounts to be located in the UAE.[14].

In November 2021 Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and Emirati defense conglomerate EDGE have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) to develop advanced uncrewed surface vessels. Under the MoU, the companies will jointly design a ‘first-in-class’ series of 170 modular uncrewed surface vessels (m-USV) to be used for all types of military and commercial applications. EDGE’s entity ADSB will collaborate with IAI to develop these USVs.[29]

In November 2021 Elbit Systems launched a new venture in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). The new subsidiary, Elbit Systems Emirates (ESE), will seek to foster a long-term cooperation with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Armed Forces, oversee customization of solutions to operational needs of end users and lead the transfer of technologies to local partners.

In January 2022 Elbit Systems announced its United Arab Emirates-based subsidiary was awarded a $53 million deal to supply airborne defense and electronic warfare systems for the UAE Air Force’s tanker aircraft. The five-year deal includes delivery of a multi-turret Direct Infrared Countermeasure (DIRCM) capability.[28].

Official Visits

June 2021: Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid made a state visit in the United Arab Emirates for the inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi.[27]

October 2021: The head of the Emirati air force, Ibrahim Nasser Muhammed al-Alawi, arrived in Israel this week in a landmark first visit to observe the military’s massive biennial Blue Flag exercise, an international aerial drill being held this month over the Negev desert.[22]

November 2021: The head of the Israeli air force, Maj.-Gen. Amikam Norkin met with his Emirati counterpart and visited the Dubai Airshow in Dubai.[23]

Joint Training

In April 2021 Israeli fighter jets flew alongside Emirati aircraft as part of a major international aerial exercise hosted by Greece, simulating in-air dogfights, large airstrikes and rescue operations, the Israeli military reported.[19]

In November 2021 Forces from the UAE, Bahrain, Israel and the US participated in a joint maritime exercise in the Red Sea.[18]

Arms Fairs

IDEX 2021:

Israeli companies that exhibited at IDEX 2021 arms fair in Abu Dhabi: Aeronautics, Amicell, Attenti, Avnon, Beezz, Bird Aerosystems, Camero, Controp, Double Shoot, Edgy Bees, Elbit Systems, Emtan, Ewave, Valert, Hornbill, Plasan, Imco, International Intelligence Agency, ISDEF, ISM Safes, IAI, Israel Shipyards, IWI, Jenovice, Lior, Marom, Vikisense, Ophir Optics, Phantom Technologies, Rafael, Reshef Graf, RP, Sibat, SK Group, Smartshooter, Steadicopter, Trinity Group, Unirom, Uniscope, Uvision, Video Inform, Vidisco.[20]

IDEX organizers signed an agreement with the organizers of The Israel Defence Exhibition (ISDEF) to coordinate Israeli participation in the conference in Abu Dhabi. As part of the agreement, companies from the Gulf’s defense sector will also take part in ISDEF 2021/22.[21]

Dubai Airshow 2021:

Israeli companies that exhibited at Dubai Airshow: Astronautics, Elbit, Elta, IAI, Nir-Or, Rafael, Sibat, Sinbad, Tomer, Uvision.[24]

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].

It was revealed that Latifa bint Mohammed al-Maktoum, the runaway daughter of the ruler of Dubai, was captured in 2018 with the help of Pegasus spyware.[15].

In December 2020, University of Toronto-based Citizen Lab disclosed that Saudi and Emirati authorities used Pegasus to hack 36 Al Jazeera journalists.[16].

In 2021 the Guardian reported that more than 400 people from the UK appeared in a leaked list of numbers targeted by the Spyware Pegasus between 2017-2019. The principal government responsible for selecting the UK numbers is United Arab Emirates, so the report.[17].

Those with UK numbers appearing on UAE’s Pegasus list include[17]. :

  • Lady Uddin, an independent member of the House of Lords.
  • A lawyer working for a London law firm advising Princess Haya. Haya is embroiled in a bitter custody battle with Sheikh Mohammed in the family division of the high court of justice.
  • John Chipman, the chief executive of the defence thinktank the International Institute for Strategic Studies.
  • Matthew Hedges, a British academic who was detained in the UAE for seven months in 2018. His number first appears in the data while he was in the UK, before embarking on his trip.
  • Roula Khalaf, the editor of the Financial Times
In November 2021 the Newspaper TheMarker reported that NSO Group has sold its Pegasus spyware to two UAE leaders: the ruler of Abu Dhabi Mohammad bin Zayed, and the ruler of Dubai Mohammad bin Rashid al-Maktoum.[25]

In October 2021 England’s High Court ruled that Sheikh al-Maktoum gave “express or implied authority” to hack his ex-wife’s phone using Israeli Pegasus software. Also hacked were five members of her entourage, and two of the princess’ lawyers.[26]

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].