x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Why London academic was banned from UAE

Dr Kristian Coates Ulrichsen was due to appear at the subsequently cancelled event at the American University of Sharjah, entitled The New Middle East: Transition in the Arab World.

Abu Dhabi // An academic was denied entry to the UAE because he consistently de-legitimises the Bahraini monarchy, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement published by Wam, the state news agency.

Dr Kristian Coates Ulrichsen, an academic with the London School of Economics, was to speak at a planned conference at  the American University of Sharjah entitled “The New Middle East: Transition in the Arab World”. The Ministry said yesterday he had been prevented from entering the country because it was deemed to be “unhelpful to allow non-constructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed” in the UAE.

“Dr Coates Ulrichsen has consistently propagated views de-legitimising the Bahraini monarchy,” the statement said. “The UAE took the view that at this extremely sensitive juncture in Bahrain’s national dialogue it would be unhelpful to allow non-constructive views on the situation in Bahrain to be expressed from within another GCC state.”

Middle East scholars were to discuss the local, regional and international impact of the Arab Spring uprisings, with Dr Ulrichsen scheduled to give a keynote lecture on the political situation in Bahrain.

Dr Ulrichsen, an associate fellow at the British international affairs think tank Chatham House and an Arabian Gulf specialist, has written papers including one last year entitled After the Arab Spring: Power Shift in the Middle East: Bahrain’s Aborted Revolution. The conference organisers cancelled the meeting shortly after Dr Ulrichsen returned home.

“The decision was made in response to restrictions imposed on the intellectual content of the event that threatened academic freedom,” the LSE said in a statement. AUS issued a statement echoeing the LSE’s.

The ministry said: “This decision in no way reflects on the strong ties with both the AUS and LSE and their academic excellence, however, in this very specific case, it was important to avoid disruption at a difficult point in Bahrain’s national dialogue process, which we fully support.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae