Abu Dhabi’s arms show confirmed the importance of the defense industry for the UAE as a major customer and an emerging and credible player within the global arms trade.
Emma Soubrier is a visiting scholar at the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington. Her research focuses on the security strategies and foreign policies of the countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, particularly the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, and Saudi Arabia, and the political economy of arms trade in the Gulf. Soubrier has published numerous articles and book chapters in French and English on Gulf security issues. Her forthcoming book, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates: Diverging Paths to Regional and Global Power (Boulder: Lynne Rienner, 2021) is based on her PhD thesis, which received a Dissertation Award from the Institute for Higher National Defense Studies (France) in 2018.
Soubrier is an expert with the Forum on Arms Trade. As part of a research team with the World Peace Foundation (Tufts University), she is working on a project on “Defense Industries, Foreign Policy and Armed Conflict” funded by the Carnegie Corporation of New York.
Soubrier was previously a postdoctoral researcher at the Centre Michel de l’Hospital, Université Clermont Auvergne (France) and a visiting scholar at the Institute for Middle East Studies at the George Washington University’s Elliott School of International Affairs. This opportunity was rendered possible by the “Ambassador” scholarship from the Directorate General for International Relations and Strategy (French Ministry of Defense). She worked for three and a half years at the French Ministry of Defense and for three years at Airbus Defence and Space. She received her PhD in political science from the Université Clermont Auvergne in 2017 and holds an MA in international relations from Sorbonne University (Paris, France).
The diverging priorities of Abu Dhabi and Dubai have given the UAE room to maneuver, and, increasingly, elements of the two emirates’ specific approaches are being consolidated within a unified strategy.
The new direction taken by the Biden administration might reopen the doors for the United States and European allies to cooperate to bring more security and stability to the Gulf region.
The coronavirus pandemic has come as a reminder of the urgent need for a renewed approach to security that no longer focuses merely on the political and military aspects of security but includes a broader look at people-centered dimensions.
The fast tracking of the F-35 sale to the UAE raises questions regarding the incentives motivating all actors involved in the deal.
The pandemic is forcing a reprioritization of people-centered challenges that Gulf leaders seem to be willing and ready to undertake.
The UAE’s growing military engagement has contributed to the steady rise of the armed forces as the centerpiece of a power and influence strategy carved out by the UAE’s de facto leader, Mohammed bin Zayed.
Arms flows to and from the Gulf states could be challenged by new economic stress in exporting and client states, reassessment of the most pressing threats, and increased congressional scrutiny in the United States.
The Gulf Arab countries’ foreign assistance during the coronavirus pandemic hints at a slight evolution in their respective foreign policies.