The Challenges of Digital Diplomacy in the Era of Globalization: The Case of the United Arab Emirates
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has embraced digital diplomacy as a part of its foreign relations strategy. Thus, this research uses case study methodology via in-depth interviews with Emirati officials and scholars and UAE-based foreign policy academics and practitioners to investigate the challenges associated with UAE digital diplomacy. Although the UAE has embraced globalization and its associated digital tools in furtherance of its foreign policy, it is plagued by deglobalization challenges that threaten the full benefits of digital diplomacy. Institutionally, this includes the following: obstacles presented by state security and state censorship, media regulations, organizational culture, personnel challenges, and linguistic challenges. Structurally, the UAE also faces challenges such as negative regional perception, difficulty in audience identification and targeting, keeping up with a fast-paced global media environment, fake news from hostile sources, usage by nonstate actors, a culture of anonymity, risk of cyberattacks, and technical and digital divides. Finding the right balance between digital empowerment and regulating the digital realm to address legitimate national security concerns will ultimately determine the success or failure of UAE’s digital diplomacy.