On 3 January 2021, Emirati security forces disrupted an Iranian terrorist cell in Dubai. Reports indicate that the cell was planning attacks timed to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the death of an Iranian military officer. Dubai’s business district and a tourist site popular with Israelis were the reported targets of the attack.

Analyst Comment: Iran-linked militant groups have historically avoided planning and conducting attacks in the United Arab Emirates, in part due to the country’s permissive environment for Iranian business that has helped Iran mitigate the effect of U.S. sanctions. It is unknown if this attempted attack signals a policy shift by Iranian officials, or if it was an unsanctioned operation. Nevertheless, travelers should follow developments in the region, and individuals working with U.S. or Israeli enterprises in the UAE should maintain as low a profile as possible.