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Foreign groups shut 'over UAE licence issues'

Dubai, April 7, 2012

The UAE said licensing irregularities were behind the closure of 'some foreign institutions' in the Gulf state, a week after two Western pro-democracy groups were told to shut their offices there.

The US-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI) last week said its license to work in Dubai had been abruptly cancelled, and the German Konrad-Adenauer-Stiftung (KAS) was similarly asked to leave the UAE capital Abu Dhabi.

'Some foreign institutions that were operating in the UAE have violated the terms of their licence; some have been operating without a licence,' said Abdul Rahim al-Awadhi, the UAE's assistant foreign minister for legal affairs, without naming the institutions.

'This obliged the legal authorities to issue instructions that they should cease their work in the UAE,' Awadhi was quoted as saying by the state news agency WAM.

Both NDI and KAS said this week they were puzzled by the move to close down their UAE offices, a move seen by analysts as a sign of the Gulf state's anxiety over the potential for political dissent within its borders.

A spokesman for KAS said the group, which did not have a licence, had been trying to obtain one for the past two years and was in Abu Dhabi at the invitation of the emirate's crown prince.

The UAE, one of the world's top five oil exporters, has weathered upheaval that has toppled four Arab autocrats since last year.

In Egypt, NDI was one of a number of civil society groups raided by police last year. Washington hinted at the time it could review its $1.3 billion in annual military aid to Cairo.

That row was defused when Egypt lifted a travel ban it had placed on the groups' American staff, whom it accused of carrying out political activities unrelated to their work, failing to obtain proper licenses and receiving foreign funds without Cairo's approval.

NDI is loosely affiliated with the U.S. Democratic party, while KAS has close links with Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic Union of Germany (CDU).

Merkel said last week UAE officials had said they were closing all Western foundations in the Gulf state.-Reuters




Tags: UAE | US | licence | issue | shut | Foreign groups |

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