U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry visited the United Arab Emirates on a tour of the region recently. He met with General Sheikh Mohammad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE armed forces. The most interesting part? Very few papers covered the visit, which is a contrast to the great coverage British Prime Minister David Cameron received on his recent trip to India, as Delhi Fellow Peter Bellini describes.
There are many possible explanations for why there was not significant coverage. For one thing, the U.S. Embassy did not send out a press release about it (that I can tell from their website that is). Print still rules in the UAE, and press releases are widely used and often printed verbatim in Arabic language papers in particular. I hadn’t written a press release in years before I moved here but had to brush up on that particular skill quickly.
Another reason could be that the visit was not that exciting nor was it intended to be. I may be blinded by the fact that I am an American, so the news seems naturally interesting, but Kerry is new to the job and likely just getting on the road to meet people that he will work with throughout his post as Secretary of State. According to Gulf News, Sheikh Mohammad and Kerry discussed cooperation between the two countries and topical issues like Syria, and Kerry complimented the UAE on its role in providing aid to victims of conflict in other parts of the world. The geographic location of the UAE and the fact that it is the United States’ largest trading partner in the Middle East means there were likely also conversations about stability in the region and how the two countries could work together to further promote that stability.
Also, there were several big news stories that week. Maybe Kerry just got trumped. Especially in the world of PR where a promising announcement can either benefit from a slow news day or suffer from a busy one, I think we can all say we’ve been there.
Julie Wilder is a Global Fellow in Abu Dhabi, from Los Angeles.
Image by Ralph Alswang [Please note this photo is not from Kerry’s visit to the UAE.]