Days after the United Arab Emirates rocked the Middle East by revealing that it would normalize relations with Israel, the first publicly announced meeting between officials of the former enemies took place. They were two of the most powerful men in the country, both of whom normally operate in the shadows.

On one side was Yossi Cohen, head of the Mossad, Israel’s feared overseas espionage agency; On the other hand was Sheikh Tahnoon bin Zayed al-Nahyan, the UAE’s national security adviser. The meeting in the United Arab Emirates in August last year indicated that intelligence cooperation would be at the heart of the new alliance. And it put Sheikh Tahnoon – who has emerged as one of the most influential figures in the UAE – into the spotlight.

His rise over the past decade epitomizes the connection between power, business, and national strategic interest in Gulf states like the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar, where a younger, tech-savvy, security-conscious generation of royals has come to the fore. It also …



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