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UAE: Bin Zayed awarded ‘prestigious’ prize by pro-Israel think tank

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The Crown Prince of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has been awarded the “prestigious” Scholar-Statesman Award by the pro-Israel think tank, the Washington Institute for Near East Policy (WINEP). The award has been given for his role in delivering the so-called Abraham Accords.

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A gala marking the first anniversary of the accords, which saw the UAE and three other Arab states — Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco — normalise relations with Israel, will be held on an undisclosed date. The de facto ruler of the UAE will be handed the award at the event.

Previous recipients of the award are some of the most controversial figures in world politics. They include former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former British Prime Minister Tony Blair.

“Through his bold and visionary act, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan led the way for peace between Israel and the UAE and paved the road for three other Arab countries… to make their own agreements for full diplomatic relations with the Jewish state,” said WINEP executive director Robert Satloff.

The prince was praised for his “pioneering leadership” in normalising ties with Israel and setting a “new standard for religious tolerance” in the UAE by opening churches and synagogues.

READ: Israel: sharp rise in trade with Arab countries since normalisation

The choice of Bin Zayed for this year’s award is unlikely to come as a surprise. The organisation emerged out of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee in 1985, the main pro-Israel lobby group in the US. Critics say that the think tank was charged with furnishing the intellectual scaffolding that would be used to justify Washington’s unconditional support for Israel in a changing domestic and international environment.

In recent years the UAE is also said to have piggy backed on WINEP influence in Washington so much that the organisation has been accused of parroting talking points and arguments passed to it by Abu Dhabi.

The Gulf has a powerful lobby in the US. Earlier this month a report warned that the UAE was “buying the silence” of major US think tanks and policy groups through lucrative donations.

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