Israel’s presence at Dubai Expo 2020 is a threat to digital rights Global Voices Français

Israel took part in the Dubai Expo, which is seen as allowing it to commercialize its surveillance technology, which has already hurt journalists and activists in the Middle East. Image used under license (CC BY-SA 3.0).

This article was published by SMEX on December 6, 2021. It is reproduced under a content-sharing agreement with Global Voices.

On October 7, 2021, Israel opened its pavilion at Expo Dubai 2020, after the United Arab Emirates invited Israel to participate in the six-month world expo in 2019, a year before the signing of the Abraham Accords.

About 25 million visitors are expected at the Expo, which will be held from October 1, 2021 to March 31, 2022, and which is seen as an opportunity for Israel, one of the most advanced surveillance states, to polish its image in front of visitors world, a promotional maneuver on the part of the United Arab Emirates.

Expo Dubai will soon open its doors. The Israeli pavilion has no walls or borders, showcasing Israel’s openness, diversity and innovation – an opportunity for millions of visitors from the Middle East and beyond to take a trip to Israel and to the future.

Dubai police deployed fleets of Israeli drones, provided by Israeli aerial data collection company Airobotics, to fly over the exhibit for security purposes. Additionally, the police announced their ongoing collaboration with the Israel Police to counter “criminal networks” in the UAE, The Telegraph reported.

The trade in surveillance technology between the two countries dates back to at least 2007, when authorities in Abu Dhabi signed an $816 million contract with Israeli digital security firm AGT to “protect all vital facilities in the country”. . Dhabi,” as Middle East Eye reports. AGT and its local partners in the UAE – Advanced Integrated Solutions and Advanced Technical Solutions – have been contracted to develop the emirate-wide surveillance initiative for 600 million dollars in February 2011. The initiative is known as Falcon Eye and began use in July 2016, with thousands of cameras on roads, facilities, buildings and the international airport.

In a more recent collaboration, the two countries announced a joint agreement to design advanced unmanned military vessels that can operate semi-autonomously or fully autonomously. Given the two countries’ extensive investment and deployment in surveillance technology and their shared history of human rights abuses, their growing military and security entanglement poses a serious threat to the privacy and digital security of citizens of the Arab Emirates. States, and the Arabic-speaking region in general.

A recent study by 7amleh – the Arab Center for the Advancement of Social Media – found that CCTV and digital surveillance have increased exponentially in East Jerusalem and the West Bank following the occupation’s violent attacks on Palestinians in April and May 2021.

“The privatization of the Israeli security apparatus and the proliferation of private companies founded by former defense and Mossad agents pose a threat to Palestinians [… ] and also for all citizens of the Gulf, with Israeli spy programs sold to dictatorships in the Arab world,” warned Madawi Al-Raheed, a Saudi-British professor whose phone was targeted by Israeli spyware Pegasus in 2019. .

Candiru and NSO Group, two Israeli surveillance companies, have been exposed for selling spyware to the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Morocco and Bahrain, making Israel’s surveillance industry a serious threat to life. journalists and activists working in the Arab world. region and outside the region. In early November, the US Department of Commerce blacklisted NSO Group and Candiru, “thereby restricting the export, re-export and transfer of items within the country” of these companies. Although inclusion on the US Entity List may limit their activity, NSO and Candiru will likely continue to operate under different names.

In October, it was discovered that the leader of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Mohammed, was using Pegasus spyware to hack into his ex-wife’s phone, leading to the termination of his contract with the Israeli group NSO. Previously, the UAE had used the spyware to infiltrate the phones of journalists, activists, lawyers and dissidents, inside and outside the Emirates. The Forbidden Stories investigation revealed that leading Emirati militants Ahmed Mansoor and Alaa Al-Siddiq were among the targets successfully hacked.

A promotional video for the Israeli pavilion says it’s a golden opportunity for the two countries to deepen their ties and find common ground beyond their differences. The very design of space is meant to promote the hypocritical ambitions of the Israeli occupation to “have neither walls nor borders”. This is in clear contradiction to the impenetrable 708 km “separation wall” that Israel began building in 2002 and which runs through Palestinian territory. The Commissioner General of the Israel Pavilion boasts that it is a “completely open space…through which one can see the horizon from end to end”, a claim that sows doubt if the we take into account that it turns Palestine into a terrorist” from its river to the sea.

In response to Israel’s involvement in the photo, the BDS movement renewed its call for a boycott of the Israeli pavilion at the Expo. The UAE and Israel are openly using the World Expo to put on a ‘prettier face’ to cover up and distract from their gross human rights abuses,” the Palestinian BDS National Committee said in a statement. a statement.

Boycott Expo Dubai: A forum to whitewash the UAE dictatorship and Israeli apartheid
The Palestinian BDS National Committee reiterates its call for a boycott of Expo Dubai 2021 and calls on governments, businesses and artists to step back from this whitewashed photo
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In October, the UAE regime will host the Dubai World Expo. The Israeli regime and apartheid will use it to whitewash and normalize their respective war crimes.

We call on governments, businesses and artists to boycott the exhibition.

SMEX invites all visitors to do the same.

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