Includes lobbying by individual emirates

$18.2 Million







#5 (tie)

Akin Gump Strauss Hauer & Feld
(for UAE)

Hired: 2007
2019 fees: $6.4 million

NEW Informational materials

Akin Gump’s Hagir Elawad emailed a message on Libya on behalf of the United Arab Emirates. “The Ambassador has asked that I share the below messages to everyone who is tracking Libya and I urge you to share this message with your respective members immediately,” Elawad wrote. “This same message has been conveyed to senior levels in the Administration.” Elawad goes on to explain that, according to a UAE analysis, Turkey’s actions in Libya are “being done very deliberately to bait Egypt into entering and right now, Egypt is seriously considering it.” In the email, Elawad also asserts that “Turkey has brought in 15,200 terrorists/extremists from Syria into Libya” and “Egypt will NOT allow a Muslim brotherhood -supporting country to set up shop on its border. That is an existential threat to them. That would be the equivalent of having China in place of Canada, and Russia in place of Mexico.”

Teneo Strategy
(for Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation)

Hired: April 2020
Contract: $3 million/year

NEW Contract

Teneo Strategy has registered to work for the Abu Dhabi-based Salama bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation, the family foundation of Princess Salama bint Hamdan — who is married to Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed, one of the Middle East’s most powerful rulers. The $3 million-per-year contract ends in December 2021. Teneo co-founder and President Doug Band, a longtime aide to President Bill Clinton, is registered to work on the account along with Managing Director Faten Alqaseer, Senior Vice President Jennifer Clark, Senior Vice President Jack Coster, consultant Emily Johns, Senior Managing Director Andy Maas, Vice Chairman Robert Mead, Senior Managing Director Matthew Miller, Senior Managing Director Padraic Riley and Senior Managing Director Sparky Zivin, the global head of Teneo Research. According to the contract, Teneo will oversee design and project management of key narrative and communications; conduct perception research; support the development of a narrative “used to amplify outreach activity”; develop and execute an international communications strategy; strengthen the foundation’s crisis response capabilities; and provide media relations support. Teneo notably also works for Saudi Arabia’s NEOM Company, which is owned by the country’s Public Investment Fund and is in charge of developing Saudi Arabia’s $500 billion futuristic Neom mega-city.

TRG Advisory Services
(for UAE)

Hired: Sept. 2018
2018 fees: $540,000

NEW Amendment

TRG Advisory Services, which works for the United Arab Emirates’ embassy in Washington, has changed its address from Alexandria, Virginia, to New York City.

KARV Communications
(for Emirate of Ras Al-Khaimah)

Hired: 2013
2018 fees: $440,000

NEW Supplemental
(Nov. 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020)

The Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah paid KARV Communications $240,000 in the six-month period ending April 30, during which time the firm provided PR and communications advice and oversaw the maintenance of the emirate’s website.

Gilliland & McKinney International Counsellors
Akin Gump subcontractor
(for UAE)

Hired: April 2019

NEW Supplemental
(Nov. 1, 2019 – April 30, 2020)

UAE law and lobbying firm Akin Gump paid Gilliland & McKinney International Counsellors $12,000 in the six-month period ending April 30. During that time period, according to a filing, former Senate Finance Committee international trade counsel John Gilliland “provided policy and strategic advice with respect to legislative and policy developments concerning the Foreign Agents Registration Act and concerning US foreign and economic policy.”

Haake & Associates
(for ECOLOG)

Hired: May 2020

NEW Domestic lobbying registration

ECOLOG, the Washington subsidiary of the Dubai-headquartered integrated services company Ecolog Deutschland, has hired Haake & Associates to lobby on government contracting issues. The Dubai-headquartered company is contributing $60,000 for the lobbying effort. Tim Haake, the former deputy commander of mobilization and reserve affairs at US Special Operations Command, will lobby on the account.

Brunswick Group
(forAbu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism)

Hired: 2016

NEW Contract

Abu Dhabi paid The Brunswick Group more than $3.4 million since 2017 to promote events and sites in the United Arab Emirates, including Louvre Abu Dhabi and Qasr Al Hosn, the oldest building in Abu Dhabi, the firm revealed in new filings. Brunswick Group was hired by Abu Dhabi’s Department of Culture and Tourism through multiple agreements. According to lobbying filings, it was also hired by former Foreign Policy editor David Rothkopf’s The Rothkopf Group (TRG), which contracted it to do international and regional PR work for CultureSummit Abu Dhabi 2018. An engagement letter that was disclosed called for Brunswick to be paid $70,000 for PR for the 2018 event.

Brunswick Group and its affiliates have done the work since November 2016; however, “in March 2020, Brunswick Group LLC and its affiliates suspended all US-facing and US-related work and activities for the Department of Culture and Tourism–Abu Dhabi pending this FARA registration,” the firm wrote in a filing. Foreign agents who registered and are currently working for Brunswick include Tristan Hills-Bos, Liza Eliano, Fanny Guesdon, Kim Mitchell, Roya Nasser and Dana Sleiman. Alice CarterJohn DivineyAmanda Mead and Agnish Ray no longer work at Brunswick but registered. Brunswick disclosed disseminating more than 400 pages of informational materials relating to the Abu Dhabi work.

Bullpen Strategy Group (Definers)
Akin Gump subcontractor
(for UAE)

Hired: Dec. 2017
2018 fees: $220,000 (from Harbour Group)

NEW Agreement

Bullpen re-ups contract with UAE: Bullpen Strategy Group, the public affairs firm co-founded by Republican opposition researcher Joe Pounder, is taking on more responsibilities — and getting paid more — by the United Arab Emirates. The firm will now “conduct research and news monitoring” and “assist with content development,” and will continue to “provide strategic communications support and guidance” and “submit public records requests.” According to a filing, which was effective May 14, Akin Gump will pay the firm $37,500 in May and $32,500 per month starting in June. In December 2017, Pounder signed a $20,000-per-month contract with Akin Gump for the UAE work. Senior Vice President Christian Hertenstein and former Business Insider reporter Joe Perticone are the sole foreign agents registered on the account.

Sanitas International
(for Expo2020 Dubai)

Hired: April 2019

NEW Supplemental (termination)
(Oct. 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)

Sanitas stopped working for Expo2020 Dubai as event postponed: Sanitas International stopped working for Expo2020 Dubai on March 15, 11 months into its one-year contract. In a new filing, the firm disclosed receiving $384,000 in the six-month period ending March 31, bringing its 2019 fees from the expo to $907,000 and its total fees for the contract to $1.04 million. Foreign agents working on the account disclosed meeting with aides to Reps. Dean Phillips, D-Minn., and Lizzie Fletcher, D-Texas, to discuss legislation introduced by Phillips and co-sponsored by Fletcher to authorize federal funding for the State Department to build a US pavilion at the expo (the UAE eventually announced that it would fund the pavilion). The Sanitas contract ended as the expo’s organizers prepared to delay the event by a year amid the novel coronavirus pandemic. The virus could have long-lasting impacts on Dubai’s economy.

Harbour Group
(for UAE)

Hired: 2009
2018 fees: $5 million

NEW Supplemental
(Oct. 1, 2019 – March 31, 2020)
Fees: $3.4 million

NEW Terminated foreign agent
Taylor Thomson

The United Arab Emirates’ Embassy in Washington paid The Harbour Group $2.8 million in the six-month period ending March 31, during which time the firm reported $97,000 in expenses. The Harbour Group disclosed conducting outreach to various media outlets, companies, universities, state governments, think tanks, religious groups and NGOs, which included The Hill, the American Jewish Committee and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

Taylor Thomson, the director of public affairs for The Harbour Group who was a foreign agent for the UAE, stopped working for the firm Jan. 17.

    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
    Haake & Associates

UAE seeks to shield itself from Gulf blowback


Julian Pecquet



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.


Main lobbying firm:
Camstoll Group



$18.2 million

Total lobbying and PR spending for 2018



  • White House prevents congressional arms sales restrictions
  • US steps up pressure campaign on Iran
  • UAE hailed for religious tolerance
  • 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

UAE lobbies for sanctions against Turkey


Julian Pecquet



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.