LOBBYING TRACKER

PRESENTED BY

Levick logo

DATAPOINTS

Includes lobbying by individual emirates

$18.2 Million

LOBBYING SPEND (2018)

14

LOBBYING/PR FIRMS

79

REGISTERED AGENTS

AL-MONITOR
LOBBYING RANK

#5 (tie)

Terakeet
(for UAE)

Hired: March 2020

NEW Registration statement

The United Arab Emirates has hired a firm to optimize search engine results for its Washington embassy and its personnel, including Ambassador Yousef Al Otaiba and his wife Abeer Al Otaiba. The embassy paid Syracuse, New York-based Terakeet $350,000 last year, according to a newly filed lobbying registration.
 
Terakeet CEO Mac Cummings and CTO Patrick Danial are both working on the account along with Gabriela Alise, Anneliese Harrison, Ryan Hurlburt, Antoinette Kimball, Brianna MacBlane, Shannon Reedy, Kenneth Schiefer and Curtis Weyant. Terakeet notably helped Hillary Clinton’s 2016 campaign with outreach to battleground states.

Covington & Burling
(for Nakibullah Basiri)

Hired: March 2020

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

Nakibullah Basiri, the general manager of “commercial equipment supply companies” in Dubai, has hired Covington & Burling to lobby for help with his request for a non-immigrant B-1 visa. Alan Larson, a former undersecretary of State for Economic, Business, and Agricultural Affairs under President George W. Bush, is lobbying on the account.

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
(for UAE)

Hired: 2007
2018 fees: $3.6 million

NEW Informational materials

Akin Gump senior policy adviser Hagir Elawad distributed an op-ed by the United Arab Emirates’ ambassador to the United States, Yousef al-Otaiba, touting the launch of the country’s first civilian nuclear power plant and the US-UAE civil nuclear agreement that made it possible. Elawad is the embassy’s former legislative affairs director.

Glover Park Group
(for UAE mission to UN)

Glover Park Group
(for UAE embassy)

Hired: July 2019

Glover Park Group
(for Abu Dhabi Investment Authority)

Hired: 2009
2018 fees: $367,000

The Glover Park Group received $406,000 from the United Arab Emirates’ UN mission, $245,000 from the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority and $40,000 from the UAE Embassy in Washington in the six-month period ending Jan. 31. The only lobbying activity the firm reported for those clients were Aug. 26 emails to an aide to Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., regarding “US-Morocco relations.” Glover Park in turn paid Breakwater Strategy $84,000 for its work on the UN mission account. Breakwater is headed by Max Gleischman, a former communications director to ex-US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power.

American Defense International
Akin Gump subcontractor
(for UAE)

Hired: July 2018
2018 fees: $225,000

NEW Supplemental
(Aug. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020)
Meetings: House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash.

American Defense International was paid $270,000 by the United Arab Emirates in the six-month period ending Jan. 31. Michael Herson, the president and CEO of the firm, met with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., on Jan. 29, and accompanied a congressional staff delegation to the UAE from Oct. 5 to Oct. 8. The firm also reported gifting two bottles of wine worth a total of $130 to UAE Ambassador to the US Yousef Al Otaiba, who has a “legendary wine collection,” according to a book written by New York Times correspondent David Kirkpatrick.

FTI Consulting
(for Abu Dhabi Investment Authority)

Hired: Feb. 2018
2018 fees: $343,000

NEW Supplemental
(Aug. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020)

The Abu Dhabi Investment Authority paid FTI Consulting $293,700 in the six months through January for “communications consulting services.”

Edelman
(for Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing)

Hired: Nov. 2018
2018 fees: $4,000

NEW Supplemental
(Aug. 1, 2019 – Jan. 31, 2020)

NEW Registered agent
Mary Elizabeth Martin

Edelman received $150,000 from the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing in the six months through January. The firm notably helped plan a fall 2019 CEO tour that was ultimately canceled and worked on an upcoming March 2020 “familiarization” trip for tour operators. The firm also added public relations professional Mary Elizabeth Martin to the Dubai Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing account, bringing the total number of people on the account to 15. 

Camstoll Group
(for Outlook Energy Investments)

Hired: 2012
2018 fees: $7 million

NEW Registered foreign agent
Kevin Chao

Analyst Kevin Chao has registered as a foreign agent for Abu Dhabi-owned Outlook Energy Investments via The Camstoll Group.

BCW
(for Emirate of Ras al-Khaimah)

Hired: May 2019
Contract: $84,000/month

NEW Registered foreign agents
Geoffrey Beattie
Sabrina Browne
Nonna Khouri

BCW (Burson Cohn & Wolfe) has added three people to its $84,000-a-month account with the government of Ras al-Khaimah: Geoffrey Beattie, Sabrina Browne and Nonna Khouri. The firm signed a deal with the UAE emirate in May for “strategic communications services to support Ras Al Khaimah's objectives in the US and Europe.”

Michael Korens
Former counsel to US Senate Aviation Subcommittee
(for Emirates Airline)

Hired: 2015
2018 fees: $40,000

NEW Q4 domestic lobbying filing

Emirates Airline paid Michael Korens $10,000 in the fourth quarter of 2019 to lobby Congress, the White House and the departments of Transportation, State and Commerce amid a push by US airlines to punish Gulf carriers over alleged government subsidies.

    Michael Korens
    Former counsel to US Senate Aviation Subcommittee
    • 2019 fees: $40,000
    Williams and Jensen
    • Hired: 2015  
    • Latest Filing  
    • Registered agents

      • Christopher Hatcher
      • Susan Hirschmann
      • Matthew Hoekstra
      • Karina Lynch
      • Melinda Maxfield
      • Erin Mullen
      • Laura Simmons
      • David Starr
      • Eric Stewart
    • 2019 fees: $60,000
    Federal Advocates
    • Hired: 2019  
    • Latest Filing  
    • Registered agents

      • Jennifer Arangio
        Former National Security Council senior director for International Organizations and Alliances
      • Kevin Talley
    • 2019 fees: $60,000

UAE seeks to shield itself from Gulf blowback

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
bookmark

Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.

Posted: September 11, 2019

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) spent more than $18 million last year to try to tar one Gulf neighbor and dodge the blowback against another.

Already one of the biggest spenders in the Washington influence game before its diplomatic break with Qatar in June 2017, the UAE has almost doubled its lobbying and public relations budget since then in an effort to paint Doha as an untrustworthy US ally. In recent months that effort has largely focused on trying to force Al Jazeera to register as a foreign agent of Qatar in a bid to curtail the rebellious network’s reach.

But the UAE has also had to defend its own policies as Abu Dhabi under Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan plays an increasingly assertive role in the region.

That campaign has run into unforeseen complications over the past year as the UAE’s main ally, Saudi Arabia, fell out of favor in Washington following the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi. Bipartisan outrage over the killing soon translated into congressional pressure to end US refueling support and arms sales to the Saudi and Emirati alliance against the Iran-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, although President Donald Trump used his veto to keep US arms sales flowing.

The UAE still has concerns, however. A month-old lobbying filing by UAE lobbyist American Defense International reveals a list of amendments the country wants dropped from the pending annual defense bill, including a congressional demand for a detailed description of the military involvement by the UAE and other countries in the conflict in Libya, restrictions on US support for the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s intervention in Yemen, and a request for a study on how the United States monitors exports of surveillance-related capabilities and their potential for abuse by foreign governments.

The emirates are also facing backlash for their support for southern secessionists in Yemen, who have their own lobbying presence here in Washington. Previously a key ally against the Houthis, the UAE is now facing accusations from the Yemeni government — disseminated by its embassy in Washington — of having bombed government forces. The increasingly messy situation and resulting civilian casualties have only strengthened US calls for an end to the four-year war, with the Wall Street Journal reporting late last month that the Trump administration now wants to open direct talks with the Houthis.

With its role on the international stage coming under scrutiny, the UAE is intent on showcasing its domestic reforms and achievements. In a region wracked by religious intolerance, the emirates scored a PR coup when it hosted Pope Francis in February for the first ever visit by a pontiff to the Arabian Peninsula.

Meanwhile, the UAE’s influence operations in Washington have continued to grow. Ambassador to the US Yousef al-Otaiba hired TRG Advisory Services in September 2018 for $50,000 per month to help develop US programs “with a particular focus on programs associated with science, technology, cultural diplomacy, education, tolerance, values, women's empowerment and related areas.” And this July, the embassy retained the Glover Park Group for $80,000 to conduct in-person focus groups and nationwide online community discussions regarding unspecified “public attitudes” through September.

HIGHLIGHTS

Main lobbying firm:
Camstoll Group

 

 

$18.2 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018

 

 

WINS
  • White House prevents congressional arms sales restrictions
  • US steps up pressure campaign on Iran
  • UAE hailed for religious tolerance
LOSSES
  • UN accuses UAE of key role in Libya violence
  • Congress revolts against Yemen war
  • Campaign against Al Jazeera 

  • Trip: April 12, 2019 to April 19, 2019
    5 staffers; $20,000
  • Trip: Oct. 13, 2018 to Oct. 19, 2018
    7 staffers; $19,000
image-from-the-document-manager

UAE lobbies for sanctions against Turkey

Editor

Julian Pecquet

@JPecquet_ALM

jpecquet@al-monitor.com
bookmark

Julian Pecquet is the Editor of Special Projects for Al-Monitor, where he supervises the award-winning Lobbying Tracker as well as managing long-form stories. Before that he covered the US Congress for Al-Monitor. Prior to joining Al-Monitor, Pecquet led global affairs coverage for the political newspaper The Hill.

Posted: December 12, 2019

The United Arab Emirates is pressing Congress for sanctions against Turkey, lobbying filings reviewed by Al-Monitor reveal. Charles Johnson, a partner with UAE lobby shop Akin Gump, emailed what appear to be two Senate staffers Nov. 7 to encourage Congress to punish Ankara over its incursion against Kurdish militants in northeastern Syria. The email was sent a week after the House passed Turkey sanctions legislation from Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, D-N.Y. The Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed its own sanctions bill Wednesday.

“I am reaching out on behalf of our client, the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates, to underscore the UAE's condemnation of Turkish aggression in Syria and support for sanctions measures against Turkey such as the House-passed ‘Protect Against Conflict by Turkey Act’ (H.R. 4695),” Johnson wrote. “I hope this information is helpful as you continue to monitor developments in Syria, and as the Senate considers potential sanctions measures.”

The email calls the Syrian incursion a “direct threat to stability and peace in the region” and goes on to point out that UAE archrival Qatar was one of the few countries in the region not to condemn the move. Johnson also says that Qatar has doubled down on its support for Turkey despite congressional criticism, describing Doha’s $15 billion investment pledge to Ankara in 2018 as being “intended to undermine newly-initiated US sanctions.”

Akin Gump in previous filings had disclosed lobbying for sanctions “against Iran and other countries,” but not Turkey specifically. The UAE’s influence campaign against Qatar, by contrast, is well documented. Akin Gump has represented the UAE embassy in Washington since 2007, which paid it $3.6 million last year.

The recipients of the email are identified only as “Andrew & Matt.” The Senate Foreign Relations Committee's Democratic counsel is named Andrew Keeler and his Republican counterpart is Matthew Sullivan, but Al-Monitor was unable to confirm that's who the email was sent to. Johnson did not respond to a request for comment. The email released by the Foreign Agents Registration Act unit at the Department of Justice was forwarded to Melissa Laurenza, a partner at Akin Gump who focuses on campaign law and lobbying registration.