The United Arab Emirates (UAE) has hired the founder of the controversial US security company Blackwater, to set up a paramilitary force made up of foreign mercenaries in Abu Dhabi.

Blackwater founder Erik Prince is to set up an 800-member battalion of foreign troops.

Documents obtained by The New York Times (NYT) on Sunday showed the crown prince of Abu Dhabi being behind the $529m deal.

It is a contentious move, which raises questions about loyalty, the role of citizens and the potential instability brought on by the popular uprisings in the Arab world.

The NYT said the covert unit will be used to put down internal revolts, defend oil pipelines and skyscrapers from any possible terrorist attack.

It also claimed that fighters from Colombia and South Africa have already been flown into the Emirate, where its rulers are reportedly deeply concerned about the popular unrest in the "Arab world as well as the perceived threat from Iran".

Is the UAE being paranoid or just protecting its citizens? What possible security risks could have motivated a small country like the UAE to hire outside help? How does the knowledge that the UAE is arming up with mercenaries sit in general?

Inside Story, with presenter Jane Dutton, discusses with Abdulhadi Alajmi, the board secretary of the Kuwait Historical Society; James Worrall, a fellow at the School of Politics and International Studies at the University of Leeds; and Phyllis Bennis, a fellow at the Institute of Policy Studies.

This episode of Inside Story aired from Monday, May 16, 2011.

Source: Al Jazeera