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UAE Security Wall / Security Fence

Since 2005 the UAE Government has been erecting fences along its borders with Saudi Arabia and Oman. The sheer size of the security portion of the federal budget indicates its importance to the UAE, especially considering that the budget does not capture the Emirate of Abu Dhabi's spending on defense. The UAE has shifted its defense priorities toward border security and counter terrorism. For example, the UAE is building a wall on the border with Oman and Saudi Arabia. It is looking for security and surveillance packages for its land and sea borders and for its offshore oil facilities.

Since 9/11, the UAE has transformed the military and internal security agencies to focus more concretely on border security with an eye toward blocking extremists' entry into the country. The UAE's land and sea borders are still porous and vulnerable. From border security measures such as iris scanners at 17 ports of entry, a 525 mile long "security wall" along the border with Oman and Saudi Arabia, and listening and observation posts equipped with video, infrared and sound technology along the land borders, the UAE Government is spending significant amounts of money on border security initiatives.

The UAE's push for domestic development of an armed unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) is also an effort to further enhance its border security. The problem with the UAE Government's hardware profile, however, is that the government often procures the equipment before designing an operational plan fully. This, coupled with the UAEG tendency to buy equipment piecemeal, from different international companies, often leads to non-interoperable systems.

The UAE Government often launches a project with an international partner and then expands the project itself, without further contracts. For example, the government contracted Raytheon to assist with the border security project along a discreet length of the Saudi Arabia-UAE border, and then planned to complete the border security fence along the Omani-UAE border independently. According to Lunday, "They wanted to take what we had done and just carbon-copy it along the rest of the border. They didn't understand that different terrain has different needs."

Although most of the illegal aliens who enter the UAE via its porous land and sea borders are seeking to enter the UAE for economic purposes, the UAEG is aware that its borders could be exploited by terrorists and terrorist facilitators. The UAE has continued to reshape its Land Forces by transferring 5,000 soldiers to the Frontier Corps responsible for border security, but these units have remained part of the UAE Armed Forces -- rather than being transferred to the Ministry of Interior as previously announced. Minister of Interior Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan (a member of the Abu Dhabi ruling family) resisted the transfer of the Frontier Corps to the MoI, preferring instead to leave the border security function to the UAE Armed Forces.

The Frontier Corps is responsible for investigating any illegal border crossings, and local newspapers frequently report the arrest of "infiltrators" by the Frontier Corps. The coastline of the UAE is patrolled by the UAE Coast Guard, which plans to use as many as 200 small patrol craft in the future to conduct a picket line interdiction operation 12 miles outside the coast and around the exclusion zones to investigate any unregistered dhows or ships entering the patrol zone. Despite these patrol craft, the UAE sea border is often used by illegal aliens who enter the country through the Gulf of Oman and attempt to walk across to the emirates of Sharjah or Ajman.

By 2007 the UAE was nearing completion of a new fence and checkpoints along the entire UAE-Oman border. The purpose of the fence is to stop illegal immigration from Oman to the UAE. The Shihuh are the largest and oldest tribe in the UAE. The Shihuh, most of whom live in mountainous ares in RAK and Fujeirah in the UAE, and ing the mountains of the Oman's Musandam Peninsula, historically have been difficult to govern. The Shihuh have their own distinct culture and several distinct dialects -- see ref A.) Although the Shihuh are based in the northern portion of the UAE and Oman, they can now be found working, and in some cases residing, in all major UAE cities. The new fence being built along the UAE-Oman border restricted freedom of movement across their historical homeland, which spans both two countries. They complained they are now required to cross the border at al Jeer and must show identity cards. Not only did they dislike the inconvenience, they find it offensive that they cannot travel freely between their newer homes in the UAE and their older homes and lands in the mountains in the Omani part of the Musandam.



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