After more than 10 years of operating in Dubai, the Gulf Research Centre (GRC) will be moving its operations to Geneva after being denied a renewal of its professional licence in the Emirate.
The centre issued a statement yesterday saying its 10-year professional licence was not renewed by Dubai's Department of Economic Development.
The licence, said the statement, covered areas of social science research, publishing, translation, conference organisation and consultancy work among others.
The GRC is one of the few think tanks operating in the UAE and the GCC that is not directly affiliated to a government or an international institution.
Its founder and chairman Abdul Aziz Saqr said the decision was not communicated to the think tank in writing.
"I'm disappointed because after I spent Dh150 million on this institute in Dubai in the past 10 years, brought thousands of people to Dubai, trained hundreds of UAE students, I'm [being forced] to leave. We put Dubai on the research map," he said.
Saqr said he never received any complaints about the GRC's work in writing and that he wished he was notified about objections to its activities earlier "instead of after my licence expires".
The GRC was rated as number two think tank in the Middle East in the 2010 Global ‘Go-To Think Tanks' survey of the Think Tanks and Civil Societies Programme of the University of Pennsylvania.
Its position has closely reflected those of Gulf governments, particularly Saudi Arabia, but Saqr said it is an entirely independent and audited entity, funded solely by him.
The think tank conducts political and economic research on the six-member states of the Gulf Cooperation Council as well as Iran, Iraq and Yemen, publishes scholarly articles, and offers consultation to government officials and diplomats in the region and beyond.
Since it was established, the GRC has built strong links with prominent think tanks around the world, and its researchers make regular media appearances on issues pertaining to the region.
Some of its former researchers have also been recruited by UAE ministries. The Department of Economic Development did not comment on the issue.
From / Gulf News