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 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].

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

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

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].