Dubai office of US-funded National Democratic Institute shut down

Group is third to face unexpected closure in the UAE in past week.

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DUBAI // An American non-profit organisation in the emirate has closed its doors after its licence was cancelled by UAE authorities.

The National Democratic Institute (NDI) had an office in Dubai for almost four years, but was asked to leave last week. On the same day, the polling organisation Gallup and the local branch of a German think tank also announced they were closing their Abu Dhabi offices.

The Konrad Adenauer Foundation, aligned with the German Chancellor Angela Merkel's Christian Democratic party, said it closed at the request of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.

NDI said its licence to operate in the UAE was due for renewal in September. The office in Dubai had four staff, two of whom were Emiratis.

"We do not have any programmes in the UAE," said Les Campbell, NDI's regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. "Our office was simply a regional hub which supported programmes in places like Qatar and Kuwait. The Gulf countries are too small to support a lot of separate offices so a central, easy-to-access location made sense and Dubai has been a good place to work from," he said.

NDI's Gulf operations include working with elected and appointed municipal councils.

UAE officials could not be reached for comment yesterday.