Middle East United Arab Emirates

Israeli Mass Surveillance System Launched in UAE

The monarchy uses Israeli surveillance technology to police its population.

(teleSUR) Authorities in the United Arab Emirates Wednesday announced the launch of new technology to deepen its surveillance of the Gulf State’s civilian population, the Middle East Eye reported.

The new Falcon Eye surveillance system—sold to the UAE by an Israeli defense contractor—“links thousands of cameras spread across the city, as well as thousands of other cameras installed at facilities and buildings in the emirate,” the Abu Dhabi Monitoring and Control Center said in an official statement. The Falcon Eye will “help control roads by monitoring traffic violations while also monitoring significant behaviors in (Abu Dhabi) such as public hygiene and human assemblies in non-dedicated areas.”

The new surveillance system also enables tracking, and can collect huge caches of data on an individual’s movements and activities.

While authorities revealed the system’s launch, they did not disclose that Falcon Eye is manufactured by the former Israeli intelligence agent Mati Kochavi, which is indicative of the strengthening, if discrete, ties between the two countries.

Officially, the two countries have no diplomatic relationship, with the UAE offering its public support for the Palestinian struggle for statehood. Israel announced in December that it was going to open a branch of its International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi.

The monarchy already has an expansive security apparatus to help crush dissent within its borders. The New York Times reported last week that more than 1,000 people have been placed under covert surveillance, many of them dissidents and journalists.

“The reason why Emirati authorities would target me for surveillance is because between March 2012 and April 2014 I documented human rights abuses in the UAE while working for an organisation I helped found—the Emirates Center for Human Rights,” Rori Donaghy wrote in an op-ed in the Middle East Eye.

In his time in the UAE, Donaghy said he documented myriad abuses including the mistreatment of migrant workers, and arresting women for reporting sexual assault.

As Donaghy writes, “beneath what is superficial glamour and piecemeal development … you are left with an authoritarian state whose pretenses at liberalism and democratization are a fig leaf designed by highly-paid public relations firms who have successfully built a global brand that has seen the Emirates slogan emblazoned on everything from the football shirts of Real Madrid to the cable cars of London.”

This post originally ran on teleSUR.