In the years before the establishment of the federation of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 1971, a number of Arab Islamists flocked to what would be the new country, as functionaries in government, particularly in education and the judiciary. Foremost among them were Egyptians, who saw better economic opportunities in the UAE than in Egypt, and were also fleeing from anti-Muslim Brotherhood crackdowns under President Gamal Abdel Nasser. That impact upon the Emirati educational system was substantial — and socially, that period created the impetus for the formation in the newly created UAE of al-Islah, an Islamist group of Emiratis that was closely aligned with the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
That sort of “honeymoon period” drew to a close in the 1990s, as Emirati authorities began to become uncomfortable with the rhetoric and social program of al-Islah. The group remained legal, but its upward mobility was stunted as the authorities became more suspicious of it. Egyptians continued to migrate to the UAE, as did other Arab nationalities, but Brotherhood activity within the UAE beyond al-Islah was slowly restricted to study circles among Arab expatriates.