Al Islah (United Arab Emirates)

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Al Islah
Founded 1974
Ideology Sunni Islamism
Islamic fundamentalism
Anti-Western sentiment
Political position Islamist
International affiliation Muslim Brotherhood

Al Islah is an Islamist group based in the United Arab Emirates that is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood.[1]


Al Islah has origins in the UAE dating back to the 1960s when Egyptian Brotherhood members fleeing Gamal Abdul Nasser’s regime traveled to the Persian Gulf region.[2] It was officially formed in 1974 when with the approval of Dubai ruler, Sheikh Rashid bin Saeed al-Maktoum,[2] Egyptian teachers who were members of the Muslim Brotherhood came to work in the UAE and began to recruit young Emiratis.[3] Dr. Ali Salem Humaid, chairman of Dubai based think-tank, the Al Mezmaah Centre for Studies and Research, has stated that the recruited young students, “operated secretly through front organizations like mafia-style gangs, money-laundering and espionage rings.”[4] The group continued to build influence in the 1970s and 1980s, serving in high posts in the education and justice sectors.[2] The work and activities of Al Islah have been directly linked to the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.[5]


Al Islah has stated that it shares ideology with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.[5] Al Islah has attacked the UAE for the country’s religious tolerance and sanctioning of community churches that have been part of the UAE since prior to the formation of the state.[6] They have also stated their strategic objective as to seize power and establish a religious government.[7] Since its formation, its members have promoted several measures limiting the rights of women, and sought to impose strict controls on social issues.[8][9] Muslim Brotherhood member Tharwat Kherbawi said the Muslim Brotherhood finds the present UAE government to be an impediment, and the country itself to be a treasure and a crucial strategic and economic prize.[10]


Al Islah is a UAE-based organization that is affiliated with the Muslim Brotherhood in other countries.[11] It has reportedly received $3.67 million in funding from a Muslim Brotherhood organization outside the UAE and coordinated activities with three Muslim Brotherhood organizations in other Arab countries.[7][12] Former Al Islah member, Ali Rashid Al Noaimi, the Vice Chancellor of United Arab Emirates University, said Al Islah, "get their orders from outside," and "they are not loyal to their country."[10]

Plans for military wing[edit]

Al Islah has been reported to have been forming a military wing that has sought to recruit retired military officers and young Emiratis and is alleged to have plotted the establishment an Islamist state in the UAE.[12][13] Members of Al Islah have denied reports that it has set up an armed wing. The UAE's state prosecutor has charged members of Al Islah with violating state security, having links to foreign organizations and insulting the political leadership.[14]

In 2013, it emerged that Al Islah and the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt were undertaking efforts to infiltrate and destabilize the United Arab Emirates. In a joint police operation by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, 11 Egyptian expatriates in the UAE were arrested on charges of subversion, stealing state secrets and operating under the influence of—and sending large amounts of money to—the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood. The men are accused of belonging to a "cell" seeking to overthrow the UAE government, with the intention of exporting the influence of Egypt's new Islamist-dominated political order.[10]

In March 2013, a trial began in Abu Dhabi for 94 individuals linked to Al Islah for an attempted coup.[15] The opening day of the trial consisted of a procedural hearing, informing defendants of their rights and the charges filed against them.[16] The hearing was attended by Emirati civil society groups and representatives of the local press.[17] Some human rights organizations have spoken out against the secrecy of the trials. An Emirati, whose father is among the defendants, was arrested for tweeting about the trial. On April 8, 2013 he was sentenced to 10 months in jail.[18]

On July 2, 2013 a verdict was issued in the trial of the 94 individuals. Of the 94, 56 suspects received prison sentences ranging between three and ten years. Eight suspects were sentenced in absentia to 15 years in jail and 26 were acquitted.[19]

On 7 March 2014 the Muslim Brotherhood was branded a terrorist group by the UAE government.[20]


  1. ^ Kasolowsky, Raissa (20 September 2012). "UAE Islamists had military wing, planned Islamic state - papers". Reuters. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c Boghardt, Lori Plotkin. "The Muslim Brotherhood on Trial in the UAE". The Washington Institute for Near East Policy. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  3. ^ Rashid al-Noaimi, Ali (15 October 2012). "Setting the Record Straight On Al-Islah in the UAE". AL-MONITOR. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  4. ^ Salama, Samir (13 April 2013). "Rise and fall of Muslim Brotherhood in UAE". Gulf News. Retrieved 26 April 2013. 
  5. ^ a b "Gulf states must tackle Muslim Brotherhood threat: UAE". Yahoo News. 8 October 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  6. ^ Gargash, Anwar (26 August 2012). "Amid challenges, UAE policies engage gradual reforms". The National. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  7. ^ a b "Brotherhood detainees in UAE make confessions". Gulf Today. 20 September 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  8. ^ Salem, Ola (5 October 2012). "Islah 'does not represent UAE interests'". The National. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Forstenlechner, Ingo (Winter 2012). "The UAE, The "Arab Spring" and Different Types of Dissent". Middle East Policy (XIX): 54–64. 
  10. ^ a b c Ibish, Hussein (8 January 2013). "Is the Muslim Brotherhood targeting the UAE?". NOW. Retrieved 24 January 2013. 
  11. ^ "Brotherhood 'sought Islamist state in UAE'". The National. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  12. ^ a b "Gulf states must tackle Muslim Brotherhood threat: UAE". Reuters. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  13. ^ "Brotherhood 'sought Islamist state in UAE'". 21 September 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  14. ^ "UAE Islamist group denies reports it has an armed wing". Reuters. 23 September 2012. Retrieved 20 November 2012. 
  15. ^ "UAE coup plot trial begins in Abu Dhabi". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  16. ^ "UAE tries 94 Islamists over plotting to seize power". Agence France Presse. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  17. ^ Alpert, Emily. "United Arab Emirates trial opens for 94 accused of trying to seize power". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 5 March 2013. 
  18. ^ Ben Brumfield; Caroline Faraj; Saad Abedine (11 April 2013). "Man faces 10 months jail for tweets about trial in UAE". CNN. Retrieved 18 April 2013. 
  19. ^ Bayoumy, Yara (2 July 2013). "UAE court jails scores of Emiratis in coup plot trial: TV". Reuters. Retrieved 4 July 2013. 
  20. ^ Alaa Shahine and Glen Carey, Bloomberg News (9 March 2014). "U.A.E. Supports Saudi Arabia Against Qatar-Backed Brotherhood". Bloomberg News. Retrieved 9 March 2014.