This new move is all about “fostering greater understanding of the UAE” while also recommending law changes when they are needed…

Today the UAE announced the launch of the Soft Power Council.

What’s that, you ask? And why now? Well, let us explain…


Well, it’s a term that was coined by Joseph Nye of Harvard in 1990 – and it means the ability to attract and obtain cooperation without coercion or force. The ‘currency’ that makes soft power work is values, culture and policy, rather than money or war.

Basically, it’s all about making people want to follow you rather than forcing them to do so. According to a 2015 report by Portland Communications and Facebook, the UK, Germany, the US, France, Canada, Australia and Switzerland are the top players in terms of ‘soft power’.

This shows that cultural influence around the world and ‘soft power’ has a distinct Western and Christian-majority bias, which is perhaps why the UAE has set up a Soft Power Council…


In the words of H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President of the UAE, “The council aims to develop a national strategy to include the public and private sectors and share the UAE’s story with the world.”

It will, he explains, invest in “building global understanding and friendships for the UAE, and will bring tangible benefits” in both the “short and long term”.

Sheikh Mohammed meets with an Orthodox Christian church leader who works in the UAE.

Interestingly, the council will review “all legislation and policies that affect the UAE’s status and reputation”, and it will suggest to the cabinet that some of those policies should be changed (many have already).

“We have been celebrating milestones such as national days and co-operating on development initiatives with our brothers and sisters in the Gulf and Arab world; now we want to develop a different strategy to introduce our culture and values to all people across the world. We want to utilise new tools and methods in order to reach more people, and share our knowledge, culture and history with the world.


As Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority and Soft Power Council member, points out, the UAE has changed so much in the past few decades in terms of both culture and legislation, and it’s time that the rest of the world saw that (rather than the common focus of the Western media that tends to see a mall and decide therefore that the UAE is soulless).

“The UAE has established itself globally as a prominent diplomatic state and this council has introduced a new approach, one that addresses people and minds and one that builds a promising civic image, supported by the country’s ongoing futuristic initiatives,” he points out.

Prayer time in the capital.

“Our country has witnessed an active movement over past decades in the fields of culture, arts and tourism, becoming a leading destination of distinction that attracts visitors and tourists from all walks of life regardless of their background or culture, further strengthening the UAE’s position,” he adds.

As Sheikh Mohammed said recently, “here in the UAE we have faced conspiracies, media campaigns, economic wars. But we never stopped, it only made us more determined.”

The Soft Power council will work to both educate people around the world on the laws and cultural values in the UAE that prove critics wrong, while also suggesting changes to legislation that merits criticism.

Minister of cabinet affairs Mohammed Abdullah Al Gergawi will chair the council.

Other members include Dr Anwar bin Mohammed Gargash, minister of state for foreign affairs; Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, minister of state for international cooperation; Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minister of state; Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi, UAE minister of state for Federal National Council affairs and Mohammed Khalifa Al Mubarak, chairman of Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority. Khalifa bin Salem Al Mansouri, acting undersecretary of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development; Sami Ahmad Dhaen Al Qamzi, director general of the Department of Economic Development; Helal Saeed Almarri, director general of Dubai’s Department of Tourism and Commerce Marketing and Saeed Mohammed Al Eter, director general of the Public Diplomacy Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future complete the council.

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Photo: Getty