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Tighter rules on EU visas would hurt Dubai Inc.

OPINION: Changing the UAE’s open border policies in the wake of the Mossad assassination would have dire consequences for business.

February 23, 2010 5:27 by

As more and more suspects emerge following the murder of Hamas commander Mahmoud al-Mabhouh, the spotlight is turning on how the assassins entered the UAE – and how legislation can be tightened to prevent such security breaches in the future.

Of the 18 suspects in the case, the majority apparently traveled to the UAE on fake British, Irish, German and French passports. The falsifying of the passports – reportedly undertaken at Israel’s Ben Gurion International Airport – has drawn heavy censure from the EU countries involved, as well as from the UAE.

“The UAE is deeply concerned by the fact that passports of close allies, whose nationals currently enjoy preferential visa waivers, were illegally used to commit this crime,” the UAE foreign ministry said in a statement on official news agency WAM.

“The abuse of passports poses a global threat, affecting both countries’ national security as well as the personal security of travelers,” UAE foreign minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan said in the statement.

Some media outlets have interpreted these statements as a sign that the UAE will tighten its entry policies for EU citizens. The UAE currently grants tourist visas upon arrival to citizens of 33 countries, including the UK, Ireland, France and Germany – the four nations allegedly chosen by Mossad in its passport forgeries. Other nations on the list include the US, Canada and Australia.

Before the Mossad assassination, steps to tighten controls at UAE borders were already underway – albeit under legislation that does not affect citizens of the 33 countries mentioned above.

But according to yesterday’s Washington Post, the Mossad assassination may prompt the UAE “to review the open border policies that have made it a commercial and tourist hub”.

The newspaper did not seem to attribute this claim to anything more than hints made by the UAE foreign ministry over “preferential visa waivers”, and acknowledges that the UAE Foreign Minister Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahayan said that the UAE wants “to protect its long-held position as a hospitable country”.

However, a report in the Irish Times has further evidence that the UAE may be considering a review of its entry rules.


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  1. Miss Anne Thropic on February 24, 2010 9:22 am

    Perhaps if the passport control and security staff were a bit more on the ball at Dubai Airport, there wouldn’t be such an issue with people slipping in on false passports. They are just sitting there, sucking time and eagerly awaiting their next paycheque.

    I once accidentally travelled out of Dubai with a keyring in my handbag that had a bullet on it. It was only spotted and confiscated at Frankfurt Airport. And last week I landed in Dubai lateThursday night and when we X-rayed our bags before heading to the taxi rank, the staff weren’t even looking at the screen and I was openly joking with another passenger as to what a waste of time the X-ray machines are.

  2. FrequentDubaiFlyer... on February 24, 2010 12:39 pm

    This is ridiculous.

    If Europe where to tighten its immigration rules each time an Arab national was commiting a crime in Europe… no Arab could put his foot in Europe anymore…. Fortunately enough, we don’t do that!

    Some people like to blame other countries for the crimes made by individuals belonging to a foreign organisation (as far as I know, the Mossad, if it’s them, is an Israeli organisation, not a French or Irish, etc..); some people like to question themselves and how their security staff is trained (and also National Intelligence)…. so Miss Anne Thropic , I’m right with you.

    And if you make it more difficult for European people to come to Dubai, it’ll go back to desert in 5 years time. Isn’t Dubai suffering enough already?

  3. iRISH on February 25, 2010 1:39 pm

    The staff at Dubai airport are well known internationally as the best of the best in terms of checking passports. And how can you ‘accidently’ travel to any place unless you are a total idiot

  4. VisaLess on February 25, 2010 6:38 pm

    I think it is amust to implement the visa statures on the 33 nations, not only for security but for reciprocal treatment. The UAE has been majorly breached more times than what is published and the majority of it has been through the Western passports.

    Kuwait, Oman, and Saudi all implement the visa rules on most westerners and that does not affect them. Brazil implemented reciprical treatment forcing americans to get visas and are doing great.

    So FrequentDubaiFlyer…. when they implement the rule, you will still be grazing on the green grass of the emirates and you will not go back, becuase after living here you have no where to go back to, honestly!

  5. Dania on February 28, 2010 9:41 am

    Actually the EU does have very tight rules on Arab travellers and most Arabs have immense difficulty entering European countires.

    India has a tit for tat policy on visas, if Canada requiers Indian travellers to apply for a visa then India requiers Canadians to apply for a visa too, so why not the UAE? I dont see any Emarati passport holder prancing into any European country freely….he/She needs to go through the paper work, be assessed and then maybe or maybe not allowed….and the same should apply to Europeans….it does to Africans and other Arab nationalities, and frankly, requierement for a visa isnt a deterrant to business !

  6. Miss Anne Thropic on February 28, 2010 4:48 pm

    iRISH, the passport control staff at DXB are totally ineffective, along with the security staff who never look at the X-ray screens. I know of at least one other person who has done jail time in another GCC country who is in Dubai. Yep, those passport control staff at DXB are world class!

    Obviously, I meant that I didn’t accidentally travel out of Dubai but thank you for calling me an idiot. I travelled out of Dubai on purpose but accidentally left a bullet keyring in my handbag. That was the accidental bit of the anecdote…


  7. Andrew on March 1, 2010 1:38 pm

    Have to agree (yet again) with Miss Anne Thropic. Mossad could’ve marched a brass band through immigration and customs in Dubai it would’ve have been noticed, yet alone aroused suspicions.

    Personally I think both the numbers of fake passports and clearly dodgy photos is just Mossad’s way of thumbing their nose at their Arab neighbours, in a situation where they knew they were going to caught as they had to throw the operation together quickly. I kinda admire the chutzpah of it if I’m being honest.

  8. Miss Anne Thropic on March 2, 2010 11:39 am

    Either that or the assassination is a Hamas inside job that they tried to make look like a Mossad job. Pardon the haram/non-kosher pun but Mossad aren’t usually that ham-fisted in their clinical assassinations…

  9. Andrew on March 2, 2010 1:25 pm

    That was my first thought as well, so either they were having a laugh – or there’s a lot more to do it. Props to whomever for the comedy passport photos though.

  10. khaled AlFilasi on March 3, 2010 7:42 am

    At the end of the day this is our country and not yours, why should the people of our country wait and apply for visas when 33 countries get them upon arrival, for Miss Anne you seem very envious of the UAE and its people if you don’t like it just go back to your own country, half of you people crib and complain about how you don’t like the place and how this should be done this way or that should be done that way, simple you don’t like it over here BUZZ OFF… if your countries provided you with 50% of what Dubai does you wont be here in the first place..


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