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Digital diplomacy of the United Arab Emirates
Material posted: Publication date: 09-12-2019
The UAE is a pioneer among Arab countries in implementing the "soft power". To implement this concept, various tools are used, including public diplomacy (Public Diplomacy). The basic idea of public diplomacy as such can be summarized as follows: it is “the process of communication of the government with foreign audiences, the purpose of which is to foreign public understands the ideals and ideas of the nation, had the idea of... the culture of the country... on national objectives”. For the implementation of public diplomacy Emirates actively uses Internet resources, thereby making public diplomacy in the digital.

UAE today – a country of active Internet users (explainable by the youth of the population). Based on data from Global Media Insight[1], from 9.61 million people use social networks to 9.52 million - that is almost the entire country. Interestingly, every year about 140 persons are joining social networks. According to statistics, WhatsApp messenger is the most common and the most popular social networks - Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. It is not surprising that the authorities of the Emirates make every effort to promote a positive international image and its agenda on these grounds, using methods SMM (Social Media Marketing), branding and PR and. The development of digital technologies and digital diplomacy dedicated and official documents in the UAE. So, in the Strategy of soft power of the UAE media diplomacy refers to the 6 major areas of soft power.

Digital diplomacy UAE can be divided into two components: actions in the country on the digitalization of the government with the aim of consolidation of an image of the most advanced countries in the middle East in digital-respect and soft power of the UAE in the international online space.

  1. Digitalization. All state agencies have their own websites and any services that may be online. In the future, the UAE government is committed to full paperless government – smart (paperless) government. Due to such state initiatives, such as Smart mobility, citizens receive a ready set of applications on a smartphone for all services. Achievements Emirates in the field of application of modern technologies in public administration received praised by international experts in 2018 the Swiss international Institute for management development IMD Institute has published a Ranking of Digital competitiveness, which the UAE won the first place in the BW and 17th in the world (surpassing Germany) in the field of the digital economy[2].
  2. UAE in the international online space. The UAE is gaining special popularity so-called diplomacy, social networks (social media diplomacy), through which the promotion of the image of the UAE, in particular through the representatives of power. For example, Twitter, the Prime Minister of the UAE has 9.8 million subscribers[3] (11-e a place among world leaders); Instagram crown Prince of Abu Dhabi – 2 million subscribers, Twitter, Minister of foreign Affairs - 4.5 million. of Course, all the foreign companies also have their own social media pages, and created special institutions for the coordination of such activities – for example, the UAE Office of Public Diplomacy under the foreign Ministry of the UAE. The popularity on online platforms, of course, is a winning resource, allowing you to cultivate an attractive image of the UAE and, consequently, to develop effective national branding. The success of the national branding of the Emirates, and, consequently, soft power, confirms the report of a reputable advertising Agency of The Future Brand, annually publishes a world ranking of national brands, for 2019, in which UAE was ranked 16th in the world and 1st among Arab countries (leaving behind powerful States such as KSA and Qatar)[4].

One of the latest trends in digital diplomacy Emirates - carried out at the paradiplomatic level (at the level of individual state actors). In this respect, stands the Emirate of Dubai is the most populated Emirate with the highest number of foreign residents, the most recognizable and publicized Emirate of the country. An important activity of the leadership of Dubai is also the creation of “smart” government (smart/digital government) as examples of “government of the future” for other countries. For this purpose, in 2001 a project was launched electronic government (e-government). In 2013 this trend continued with the launch of the Dubai Smart Government Initiative and programs of Smart Government Applications and the transfer channels of communication between government and residents in social networks – Youtube and Twitter, that translates the model of city management, in fact, in a virtual environment. Dubai-level of the Emirate publish its strategy for the development of digital-sector – unique to the Middle East Dubai the concept of the Internet of Things about the development of digital technology in the field of administration, management, management, international relations of the Emirate. The expanded conception of these goals gives a different document – the Smart Dubai 2021, which establishes the goal to make Dubai the leader in the ranking of smart cities in the world.

However, despite the peaceful nature of UAE digital diplomacy, sometimes controversial cases. In 2017, the Gulf region shook the Qatari crisis, which were drawn and the UAE, having established a blockade against Qatar. In 2017-18 he Arabic edition was published by numerous news, according to which the UAE along with Saudi Arabia and Bahrain used to create fake web bot pages on Twitter shortly before the crisis to escalate anticachectic sentiments, and after the crisis to maintain this rhetoric[5]. Antimaterie mood in UAE came in the beginning of the crisis to such an extent that the UAE authorities threatened with imprisonment anyone who expressed sympathy to Qatar in social networks. UAE was implicated in the spread of fake news to harm the image of Qatar - so on Twitter were circulated false information about the fire planes Qatar Airways at Doha airport[6]. Later account and the news was removed as violating the Twitter terms of use. It is reported that, in coordination with the KSA, the UAE also develop the theme of the creation of the Internet trolls (troll farms) to warm up the public (the latter an experiment in African countries)[7].

Digital security UAE. Safe interaction in the online space has become so hot topic in the UAE that would affect its rulers in their official messages to the nation. So, in the fall of 2019, Prime Minister of the UAE published a "Message to the nation for the new season", where he emphasized that the chaos and anarchy in social networks can destroy any achievement of the state. He stressed that the image of the UAE does not need to increase the number of "followers". In addition, the Prime Minister has noticed that to coordinate online activities and maintaining the image of the UAE, there is actually Mead, which clearly conveys information about the vectors emigrant diplomacy to the public. His message, the Prime Minister made the following striking phrase: "We will not allow to destroy the 48-year-old heritage of the country on the platforms of type Twitter."

In this regard, it is important to specify that the UAE has its own strategy for Cyber security from 2019. It affects such as the regulation of cybercrime, protection of critical infrastructure from hacker attacks, increase of awareness of people, create teams of cyberprotection.

Thus, we can conclude that the UAE today, from all States in the Middle East the most actively joined the digital sphere and actively use media as a tool for the formation of a positive image of the country abroad and to promote their national interests. Emirates take these steps along with the internal digitalization of structures and systems development of protective mechanisms in the online environment, making digital diplomacy an integral part of foreign policy activities of the UAE.

Anastasia Ilyukhina



  1. Dubai Cybersecurity Strategy. URL:
  2. Smart Dubai 2021. URL:
  3. Dubai Smart Government. URL:
  4. استراتيجية إنترنت الأشياء في دبي [Dubai's Internet of Things Strategy] URL:
  5. استراتيجية القوة الناعمة لدولة الإمارات [The UAE Soft Power Strategy]
  6. الاستراتيجية الوطنية للأمن السيبراني-2019 [National Cybersecurity Strategy 2019] URL:
  7. محمد بن راشد في رسالة الموسم الجديد [Mohammed bin Rashid''s Letter of the New Season] URL:


[1] UAE Social Media Usage Statistics 2019. URL:

[2] IMD World Competitiveness Rankings 2019 Results. URL:

[3] the Official Twitter Account of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum, UAE Prime Minister:

[4] Future Brand Country Index 2019. URL:

[5] The fake Twitter accounts influencing the Gulf crisis. URL:

[6] UAE fake news about HIA draws global condemnation. URL:

[7] Saudi, UAE and Eritrean Trolling Cooperation. URL:

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