A Palace coup Foiled in the UAE

Amid the Arab Spring uprisings of 2011 a senior prince in the United Arab Emirates allegedly plotted a palace coup to overthrow the country’s leaders and transform the autocratic Gulf state into a constitutional monarchy. It is a former royal employee that has shared the information to the Middle East Eye.

Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed al-Nahyan, fourth son of the country’s founder Sheikh Zayed, was the most senior prince involved in the plot, which was uncovered and stopped by his powerful brothers Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan and Interior Minister Saif bin Zayed al-Nahyan, writes Middle East Eye.

A former British investment manager who personally worked with Sheikh Hamdan for 18 months from early spring 2011 told MEE about the prince’s plans on the condition of anonymity. The source said they wanted to reveal the plot because they had become disillusioned with the UAE, principally due to a business dispute that forced them to leave the country at the end of the summer in 2012.

The coup plot has also been confirmed to MEE by a former senior British banking executive who worked in the UAE from before the country’s independence in 1971 until recently and who had, and still maintains, regular contact with high-profile royals from the seven emirates.

Allegations of unrest among the royal elite in the UAE undermines the widely held impression that the tiny oil-rich country is a sea of tranquility in a region of turmoil. Since the attempted coup in 2011, there has been, at least publicly, few signs of discontent across the UAE’s seven emirates.

Hamdan is sidelined from power

Fifty-two-year-old Sheikh Hamdan spent nearly 20 years serving in senior public office after being appointed minister of state for foreign affairs at the age of 27 in 1990. He held that ministerial portfolio until 2006, whilst also serving as the country’s deputy prime minister between 1997 and 2009.

By 2011, when MEE’s source started working for the prince, Hamdan, who was born in al-Ain, had been pushed out of significant public office and was sidelined by his brother Mohammed and half-brother Saif.