UAE residents on edge over security after Houthi attacks

UAE residents on edge over security after Houthi attacks
2 min read
The UAE, which has a majority expatriate population, prides itself on security and stability and on being a leading global travel hub, tourism destination and commercial centre.
The UAE has twice come under attack from Yemen's Houthi rebels in recent days [Haykal/Getty]

Some Abu Dhabi residents feel on edge about security for the first time following two missile attacks in a week on the United Arab Emirates' futuristic capital city, home to high rise towers, world-class museums and a Formula One race circuit.

The UAE, a business safe haven that has seen none of the violence suffered by some other Arab states, was shaken by a 17 January raid by Yemen's Houthi rebels that killed three people in Abu Dhabi, the first such attack on its soil.

On Monday, the UAE said it thwarted another strike.

"Definitely we are nervous... but we have full faith in the UAE leaders. I'm sure they have a good defence system," South African sonographer Shaynaaz Govinda, 31, who has lived in the country for three years, said at an Abu Dhabi shopping centre.

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Sales and marketing executive Randa Rizk, a 35-year-old Egyptian, said she felt "a little concerned" but also voiced confidence in the Emirati government's ability to continue providing a safe place for her family.

Taking to Twitter, prominent Emirati political analyst Abdulkhaleq Abdulla told his over 200,000 followers that the UAE is "confident in its defences and capabilities and strives for the security of its citizens and residents".

The UAE, which has a majority expatriate population, prides itself on security and stability and on being a leading global travel hub, tourism destination and commercial centre.

While Abu Dhabi holds the country's oil wealth, neighbouring Dubai has an economy focused on tourism and international business, and is more vulnerable to shocks.

"This is worrying but honestly I don't see a lot of ground level discussion on this," said an analyst at a bank in Dubai who declined to be identified as they were not authorised to speak to media.

Khaled Majeed, fund manager at SAM Capital in London, said the attacks so far seemed to be more of a warning to the UAE, which is backing Yemeni forces who recently joined fighting against the Houthis in two energy producing provinces.

But some residents worry about further escalations.

"I moved here thinking there would be less chaos," said American medical student Tahlia Rivera, 19, "Overall I feel safe but I don’t know how it will escalate."

(Reuters)