The skyline of one of Abu Dhabi's prime areas. It took the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council nine months to come up with a plan to streamline the capital’s urban growth. Image Credit: Gulf News archive

Abu Dhabi: The UAE has ordered a number of foreign institutions to shut down for either violating the terms of their licences or having obtained no licence at all, a senior official said on Thursday.

“Some foreign institutions that were operating in the UAE have violated the terms of the licence; some have been operating without a licence. This obliged the legal authorities to issue instructions that they should cease their work in the UAE,” Dr Abdul Rahim Al Awadhi, Assistant UAE Foreign Minister for Legal Affairs, was quoted by WAM as saying.

Dr Al Awadhi did not name these institutions, but Gulf News learnt the German think tank Konrad Adenauer Foundation, which has been operating in Abu Dhabi since 2009, was ordered to close down because it never obtained a licence and the Dubai-based National Democratic Institute, an organisation affiliated with the American Democratic Party, was shut for violating the terms of its licence.

German government representative told Gulf News it was trying to work with the UAE for the reopening of a think-tank in Abu Dhabi.

“The German Government regrets the decision of the UAE to shut down the office of Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung in Abu Dhabi. We are in close contact with the UAE Government in order to find a solution in this matter,“ a spokesman for the German Foreign Ministry told Gulf News.

The spokesman did not confirm or deny whether the German think tank has ever obtained or applied for a licence ever since it was opened in the Abu Dhabi.

“Both German Government and German Parliament attach great importance to the precious international work of the German political foundations,” the spokesman said.
The Konrad Adenauer Foundation has close ties with German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s party, Union of Christian Democrats.

Merkel said last Thursday that Germany would “attempt to maintain close cooperation with the UAE”. “However, we of course wished that the Konrad Adenauer Foundation could continue its work there,” she told reporters.

The UAE also closed down the Dubai office of the National Democratic Institute (NDI), an organisation affiliated with the American Democratic Party that claims to “work to promote and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide” for working on a general training licence, sources told Gulf News.

“On Wednesday, March 28, authorities [not sure from where] visited the office and told us our licence was cancelled, effective immediately — no reason given,” Leslie Campbell, NDI regional director of Middle East and North Africa, told Gulf News via e-mail.

Having operated in Dubai for almost four years, Campbell said the NDI office’s operations were geared outside the emirate.

“We do not have any programmes in the UAE and never had. Our office was simply a regional hub, which supported programmes in places like Qatar and Kuwait. The Gulf countries are too small to support a lot of separate offices so a central, easy-to-access location made sense and Dubai has been a good place to work from,” Campbell said.

An analyst based in Dubai, who requested anonymity, told Gulf News these sort of organisations cannot be considered non-governmental organisations (NGOs) because they are funded by western governments and major parties in the US and Europe. “For me, they have suspicious goals,” he added.