View of part of the Fujairah Corniche and the Hajar Mountains in the Background

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Israeli Flag Flies for First Time but are all Israelis able to Visit the UAE?

Israeli Flag Flies in UAE
Israel National News reported that the United Arab Emirates raised an Israeli flag for the first time this week in recognition of an Israeli delegation attending an international energy convention.

“Israeli representatives Simona Halperin, of the Foreign Ministry, and Dr. Avraham Arbiv from the Ministry of National Infrastructures, sat under the flag while participating in the committee meeting of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in Abu Dhabi on Monday.”

“‘Despite the fact that Israel does not have diplomatic relations with the United Arab Emirates, the Israeli representatives were received as equal members, and the Israeli flag flew for the first time in that country,’ said the ministry in a statement.”

Importance of International Relationships
The decision to enable the UAE to serve as the international headquarters of IRENA has been an important factor in the Gulf nation easing its restrictive policy towards Israel.

Any future successful bids to host significant international conferences and major sporting events such as the Olympic Games will require a warming of ties between the two nations and a change to the UAE’s visa policy.

Israeli-UAE Relations on the Tennis Court
An international uproar broke out in February 2009 when Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was denied a visa to attend a tennis tournament in the UAE.

A few days later the decision looked as if it had been overturned when a male player from Israel was granted a visa to play in Dubai’s men’s competition. The Dubai organizers received a significant fine, a protesting TV network withdrew from giving coverage and the UAE was threatened with having the annual tournament taken from it.

Need for Clarification
The decision to admit the male Israeli tennis player to the UAE was accompanied by the rider that the UAE was not reversing its policy of withholding visas to Israeli citizens. It is pleasing to see Israeli citizens attending the meetings of IRENA and flying the Israeli flag.

Web sites still abound, like this one that declare the UAE’s traditional policy (shared by many Arab states) in preventing people from entering the country if they present an Israeli passport or have a passport with stamps they obtained from visiting Israel.

The visa policy needs to be clear and consistent so that Israeli citizens know whether they are welcome or not in the United Arab Emirates.

Zalman Nelson, Israeli Flag Raised in the United Arab Emirates, Israel National News, 15 October 2009.

Other Stories and Related Sites
See the Textile and Spice Souks of Dubai UAE, Experiencing the Emirates, 14 October 2009.

BMW Oracle Objection to RAK More About Light Winds than Iranian Dangers, America’s Cup in the UAE, 9 October 2009.

Inaugural Fujairah Fishing Classic is Al Luring, Fujairah in Focus, 16 October 2009.

Dr Geoff Pound

Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at) on Facebook and Twitter.

Image: Israeli delegates Arbiv and Halperin at the IRENA meeting and the Israeli flag flying for the first time in the UAE. (Photo courtesy of MFA)