x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

UAE envoy defends country against UK newspaper editorial

The response followed an editorial in The Guardian newspaper that criticised the UAE's human-rights record and its leadership.

ABU DHABI // The ambassador to Britain has hit back at an editorial criticising the UAE, highlighting the UAE's diversity and success.

In a response titled "The UAE is not the intolerant society it's claimed to be", published on Monday on The Guardian's website, Abdul Rahman Al Mutaiwee lauded the rapid progress and accomplishments in education and governance.

"The majority of the UAE's population comes from outside its borders but it remains a tolerant Muslim society where all faiths worship freely - with, for instance, the first woman Anglican priest ordained in the Gulf," Mr Al Mutaiwee wrote. "These achievements have been made not in spite of the UAE's Government, but because of it."

The response followed an editorial in The Guardian newspaper that criticised the UAE's human-rights record and its leadership.

Mr Al Mutaiwee defended the arrests of more than 60 alleged members of Al Islah, the UAE's branch of the Muslim Brotherhood this year.

"The charges against them have nothing to do with political reform and their case will be heard in due course by UAE courts," he wrote.

He clarified that the arrests were unconnected to a petition last year calling for full suffrage for the FNC.

"The UAE made no criticism of the petition's call for political reform," he wrote. "The five [of 130] signatories who were later arrested were charged with offences completely unrelated to the petition and were released following trial."

He highlighted the role of women in the UAE, saying 70 per cent of graduates and four cabinet ministers are female. Mr Al Mutaiwee also hailed the two countries' close ties.

"Today Emiratis enjoy prosperity and freedom, and the UK has a firm friend in a strategically important part of the world, defending and promoting values we both hold dear," he wrote. "That is something to commend, not disparage."

jthomas@thenational.ae