UAE has ‘unique’ relationship with Iran, says poll author

Hundreds of thousands of Iranians call the UAE home and Dubai is one of Iran's top trading partners.

ABU DHABI // The author of a poll that surveyed more than 7,500 Arab-speaking adults said the UAE held a “unique” relationship with its neighbour Iran, which could help explain some of the surprising figures.

As hundreds of thousands of Iranians call the UAE home and Dubai is one of Iran’s top trading partners, it puts the UAE in a different basket to other surveyed countries.

“There are strong historic ties, especially in Dubai, with Iran,” said Dr James Zogby, managing director of US-based research centre Zogby Research and a contributor to The National’s opinion pages. “There is a very large Arabic-speaking Iranian population living in Dubai so you’re going to get higher numbers there than in Saudi Arabia where connections between both countries are not as great.”

He said the UAE Government was well aware of this.

“They have clear issues with Iran over the islands and its role in Iraq, Syria, Bahrain and now Yemen,” he said. “I think they see it as a regional threat but they also understand that, for many of their people, it’s a trading partner and, for several hundreds of thousands, it’s home so the UAE is in a different situation to other countries.”

He said the Sir Bani Yas Forum, where the survey was presented, brought together policy-makers from the Middle East, Europe and the US.

“We provide some of the data that they use to discuss,” he said. “There was also a panel on the Muslim Brotherhood, the Islamic State issue and the Arab Spring.”

Dr Zogby, who is the president of the Arab American Institute, has been polling on such questions for about a decade.

Published: December 12, 2014 04:00 AM