On June 18, the government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) made a surprise announcement granting nationals of countries suffering from war and disasters a one-year residence visa. Although an important gesture to relieve suffering and provide temporary shelter, Abu Dhabi is not following through on a much more important and sustainable solution to these problems: the permanent resettlement of Syrian refugees from Lebanon, Jordan and other countries to the UAE.
At the New York Refugee Summit in September 2016, the UAE’s Minister of International Cooperation pledged to resettle 15,000 Syrian refugees by 2020. With that pledge, the UAE became the first Gulf state to announce a large-scale plan to extend refugee status to Syrians. Almost two years later, the first refugees have yet to arrive. Is the UAE government reneging on its commitment?