Silicon Valley Classic: Reject #DictatorDollars

July 23, 2019:  UAE | Letter to Endeavor

11 organizations representing millions of members across the U.S. and worldwide urged Endeavor to end the United Arab Emirates sponsorship of the July 2019 Silicon Valley Classic.

The brutal UAE monarchy is a sponsor of the Silicon Valley Classic women’s tennis tournament via the UAE Mubadala investment fund.  Endeavor company IMG owns and operates the event.

Letter text below:   (PDF here)

July 23, 2019

Ari Emanuel, CEO, Endeavor
Patrick Whitesell, Executive Chairman, Endeavor
Vickie Gunnarsson, Director, IMG Tennis Events
9601 Wilshire Boulevard
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

Dear Mr. Emanuel, Mr. Whitesell, and Ms. Gunnarsson,

On behalf of our millions of members across the U.S. and worldwide, we write to urge you to end your affiliation with the brutal monarchy of the United Arab Emirates and to cancel the UAE monarchy’s sponsorship of the annual Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic tennis tournament. The tournament runs from July 29th to August 4th at San Jose State University in San Jose, California.

As described online, the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is owned and managed by IMG, a part of the Endeavor network of companies. (1) The tournament currently bears the name of the Mubadala Investment Company, a national investment fund owned and run by UAE’s brutal monarchy. The UAE monarchy has a long record of human rights violations, including repression at home, support for anti-democratic forces abroad, and war crimes in Yemen.

Indeed, the UAE’s human rights record is so bad that the U.S. Congress just voted to cut off U.S. military support in response to the UAE and Saudi Arabia’s mass slaughter in Yemen. (2) Not only is the UAE driving war and suffering in the Middle East, but the money behind the Mubadala investment fund comes directly from UAE fossil fuel exports that are accelerating global climate change.

The tournament website describes the Silicon Valley Classic as the oldest women’s-only tennis tournament in the world.  An event with such a proud history should not serve as a public relations tool for a monarchy that is responsible for the deaths of thousands of Yemeni women and girls. By naming the tournament after UAE’s Mubadala fund, Endeavor and IMG are enabling a destructive family dictatorship to promote its interests in the U.S. when that monarchy should instead be facing accountability for its human rights crimes.

After the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi, Endeavor took the important step of returning $400 million in funding that it had received from Saudi Arabia’s monarchy. (3) The UAE’s defacto ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, is a close partner of Saudi Arabia’s ruling Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman. Together, the two monarchies have driven extraordinary levels of suffering in Yemen, Sudan, and Libya.

UAE’s Bloody Record on Human Rights:

The UAE’s bloody record includes killing thousands of civilians in Yemen, imprisoning human rights activists, opposing basic labor rights, backing anti-democratic forces in Libya and Sudan, and even reportedly running a campaign of political assassinations. Not only that, but the UAE spends large sums of money to obscure these ugly realities by pushing their propaganda and policy positions here in the United States.

1. Slaughter of civilians in Yemen:

The UAE and Saudi Arabia have led a brutal campaign of airstrikes, militia wars, and blockades in Yemen. These actions have killed thousands and fueled famine conditions for millions. A UN-commissioned report predicts 233,000 Yemeni deaths by the end of 2019 in the war between the UAE / Saudi-led coalition and Houthi rebels. (4) Today, even as the UAE claims that it is withdrawing from Yemen, the monarchy reportedly maintains militias in the tens of thousands across the war-torn country.

2. Imprisoning reformers at home:

The UAE has imprisoned multiple government critics, giving prominent human rights defenders Dr. Nasser bin Ghaith and Ahmed Mansoor both 10 year prison sentences. (5) (6)

3. Opposing unions:

Migrant workers make up the vast majority of the UAE’s private workforce, and they face significant exploitation and abuse. The UAE bans trade unions, denies migrant workers collective bargaining rights, and penalizes striking workers with deportation. (7)

4. Backing anti-democratic forces:

The UAE has backed the anti-democratic Libyan general Khalifa Haftar in Libya’s civil war. (8) The UAE has also supported military leaders in Sudan who violently attacked the democracy activists who forced the removal of dictator Omar al-Bashir from power. (9)

5. Conducting political assassinations:

According to a recent prominent news report, the UAE has employed US mercenaries in an assassination campaign against political and religious opponents in Yemen. (10)

Buying influence in the US:

While driving an agenda so hostile to human rights, the UAE has spent significant sums of money in the US to advance its political agenda and obscure its brutality.  Sponsoring the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic is one example of this, but UAE-driven propaganda in the U.S. goes much further. As documented by the Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative of the Center for International Policy, UAE has provided millions of dollars in funding to major U.S. think tanks in the monarchy’s drive to influence U.S. politics and foreign policy. (11)

Endeavor’s decision to cut ties with the Saudi monarchy was a significant act of private sector accountability for the Saudi monarchy’s actions. The rulers of the United Arab Emirates are no less hostile to human rights.  We urge Endeavor and IMG to cancel the UAE’s sponsorship of the Silicon Valley Open.

We look forward to your reply. We can be reached at (202) 750-5133 or


Sunjeev Bery
Freedom Forward

Will Davies

Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Jodie Evans, Co-Founder
Medea Benjamin, Co-Founder

David Segal
Executive Director
Demand Progress Education Fund

Hassan El-Tayyab
Just Foreign Policy

Shireen Al-Adeimi
Assistant Professor of Education
Michigan State University

Paul Kawika Martin
Senior Director, Policy and Political Affairs
Peace Action

Jehan Hakim
Yemeni Alliance Committee

Isaac Evans-Frantz
Action Corps

Grace Fernandes
Student Director
STAND: The Student-Led Movement to End Mass Atrocities

Lola Jusidman
NYU for Yemen


1. “Tournament Info,” Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic (website), accessed July 16, 2019,

2. “House Votes to Block Arms Sales to Gulf Nations, Setting Up Trump’s Third Veto,” Catie Edmondson, July 17, 2019,

3. “Endeavor Returns Money to Saudi Arabia, Protesting Khashoggi Murder,” Kate Kelly and Ben Hubbard; The New York Times, March 8, 2019,

4. “Assessing the impact of war on development in Yemen,” Jonathan D. Moyer, David Bohl, Taylor Hanna, Brendan R. Mapes, Mickey Rafa; United Nations Development Programme; Frederick S. Pardee Center for International Futures, Josef Korbel School of International Studies, University of Denver; 2019, p 7,

5. “UAE: Prominent academic jailed for 10 years over tweets in outrageous blow to freedom of expression,” Amnesty International. March 29, 2017,

6. “UAE: Free Rights Defender Ahmed Mansoor.” Human Rights Watch, April 12, 2019,

7. “United Arab Emirates 2017/2018,” Amnesty International,

8. “Trump Has a New Favorite Strongman in Khalifa Haftar,” Samer Al-Atrush, Bloomberg Businessweek, May 3, 2019,

9. “UAE backs Sudan’s transitional military ruler,” The National, April 15, 2019,

10. “A Middle East Monarchy Hired American Ex-Soldiers To Kill Its Political Enemies. This Could Be The Future Of War.” Aram Roston, BuzzFeed News, October 16, 2018,

11. “US Foreign Policy Is for Sale,” Ben Freeman, The Nation, February 21, 2019