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The UAE’s silent Muslim ban: Politics or security?

Homo Sapiens

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The UAE’s silent Muslim ban: Politics or security?


Reports show that the UAE has suspended work and visit visas to 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries.

Yesterday Reuters issued a report concerning immigration into the UAE, more specifically a suspension on issuing new visas for citizens from 13 nations - a temporary measure. The document was obtained through a state-owned ‘business park’ confirming concerns that have been circling this past week.

Initially, the state suddenly banned visit visas and now this circular confirms new employment visas for reasons unspecified at the time of writing. The countries in question are as follows: Iran, Turkey, Syria, Somalia, Algeria, Kenya, Iraq, Lebanon, Pakistan, Tunisia, Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen.

On November 18th, the date the UAE immigration order was cited to have been circulated, the Pakistan Foreign Office (PFO) announced a halt in the processing of new visas and first believed it to be a Covid-19 related precaution, however, the report yesterday shows that this silent ban has been enforced due to unspecified security reasons.

No official statement has been released by the UAE government at the time of writing. The silence in itself is problematic, considering recent regional shifts, in addition to an incoming US president. Creating space for speculation through a lack of comment can ultimately lead to genuine diplomatic strain with any of these nations.

A large percentage of the UAE demographic includes sizable populations from a number of the countries listed, particularly, Pakistan, Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Afghanistan, as well as the remainder of the list.

What diplomatic message does this signal when, for example, the PFO, is not informed and thus made a public assumption?

Some believe that this is a precautionary measure is in response to the two attacks in Saudi Arabia this past month. While the most recent, a grenade attack at an event allegedly organised by the French Embassy, has raised alarms, the identity of the attacker has yet to be confirmed.

The preceding attack, however, also targeting the French, likely due to the contentious statements made by the nation's leader on Islam, the attacker was identified as a Saudi national. This would imply a domestic problem and regarding a specific trigger and not a general phenomena.

Another security consideration to be made, as there has yet to be an official rationale for the temporary ban, would be the UAE’s recent normalisation with Israel. Particularly as Israelis will be allowed entry into the UAE as early as the end of this week, as reported by the Times of Israel.

Further to this, the two nations have agreed on a visa-waiver program to come into effect shortly - one that does not even exist between Israel and the US, their closest ally.

Of the 13 countries temporarily banned, 11 have been outspoken in their condemnation for normalisation of relations with Israel. Formal statements have been made by a number of these governments including Iranian, Lebanese, Turkish, Iraqi, and Pakistani, amongst others.

The ‘Abraham Accords’ are being hailed as a breakthrough in peace, but in reality, it has caused a new layer of tension in the region - intensifying false geopolitical dichotomies and further polarising politics in the Gulf, Arab, and wider Muslim world.

The relevance in grouping this heterogeneous group of countries as Muslim-majority is in large in part due to the recent embedding of religion into the Palestinian movement for statehood. This ‘peace-deal’ has instigated heated debate over the custodianship over the Islamic holy site of Al Aqsa Mosque.

A recent report highlights a group of UAE nationals (a business delegation visiting Israel) entering Jerusalem to visit Haram ash-Sharif and were confronted with angry Palestinians.

In retaliation, comments were made such as, “We will visit Al-Aqsa because it does not belong to you, it belongs to all Muslims.”

A Saudi lawyer chimed into the online debate stating, “it is very important for the Emiratis and Bahrainis to discuss with Israel ways of liberating Al-Aqsa Mosque from Palestinian thugs in order to protect visitors from Palestinian thuggery.”

In addition to different comments from the Palestinian Authority, it would appear that the UAE is moving to take on a larger role regarding the holy site.

Whether for political or undisclosed security precautions, or the two intertwined; the diplomatic message, at the very least the perception of it, is problematic and potentially antagonising towards the countries listed.

As the UAE, which no less than a few months ago had a total ban on Israel, moves to working actively with illegal settlements and promoting ties between nationals, it also ices out other longstanding allies and a large majority of the demographic.

How far will the UAE go for their new friends, and how many old ones will they leave in the wake of this new bond?

With the hope that this is only a temporary measure and not intended as political pressure - at the very least the region hopes, quietly, the silence is lifted.

Disclaimer: The viewpoints expressed by the authors do not necessarily reflect the opinions, viewpoints and editorial policies of TRT World.

We welcome all pitches and submissions to TRT World Opinion – please send them via email, to opinion.editorial@trtworld.com

nadine.sayegh
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Nadine Sayegh
Nadine Sayegh is a multidisciplinary writer and researcher covering the Arab world. She has covered topics including gender in the region, countering violent extremism, the Occupied Palestinian Territories, amongst other social and political issues.

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MTN1917

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A Saudi lawyer chimed into the online debate stating, “it is very important for the Emiratis and Bahrainis to discuss with Israel ways of liberating Al-Aqsa Mosque from Palestinian thugs in order to protect visitors from Palestinian thuggery.”
That is just unbelievable!!!!
 

Homo Sapiens

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List of the countries certainly indicate politics. If these countries ban their air space for Emirati carriers in retailiation, then UAE might get a good lesson. Specially closer of the air space of Turkey, Iran, Iraq and Pakistan will give them big trouble. Aviation is the 2nd largest source of their income and central to their plan of post-oil economy as a connectivity and business hub.
 

aryobarzan

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These Milk COWs are at the end of their milking cycle. The owners arrived in Jeddah last week to ensure whatever milk is left goes to them all ..lol ....Just take a look at this list.
  1. International groups note first ever seen pockets of starvation in Saudi Arabia and Dubai
  2. Pro-democracy group emerges in Saudi Arabia (prohibited)
  3. Populations of all GCC countries dropping as foreign workers flee
  4. UAE contracting companies risk default and closure; workers unpaid, projects abandoned
  5. Foreign contract workers still there: no jobs in KSA, sleeping in cars
  6. Saudi hotels nearly all bankrupt; no staff, no kitchen
  7. Private school owners catering to KSA wealthy are closing and leaving
  8. Saudi airline traffic down 93%
  9. Kuwait broke; can't pay gov't salaries next month; debt downgraded on liquidity risks
  10. UAE flag carrier Eithad Airlines still losing money; $6 billion last 5 years
  11. Two largest oil companies in UAE cash crisis; broke
  12. Saudi Armaco profits now down 50% yoy on top of two previous bad years
  13. Saudi Arabia triples VAT = austerity for import-dependent KSA
  14. UAE international property manager Emaar bonds rated junk
  15. Dubai International Financial Center nearly bankrupt, debt rated junk
  16. Dubai GDP peaked years ago an is now at 2005 levels - and dropping
  17. UAE Emirates Airlines defaults on bonds, then
  18. UAE bails out broke Emirates Airline; owned by gov't via Dubai Investment Financial Corp.
  19. Pretty much every company DIFC invested billions in is a sham, ponzi or outright fraud
  20. Dubai borrowing more money to survive
  21. GCC property value continues plummeting; Empty skyscrapers; Rents lowest in three decades
  22. UAE banks found to be laundering Taliban money
  23. Arabtec Holdings largest infrastructure construction company in ME now in liquidation
  24. $15 Billion investment firm Abraaj Group in liquidation .
  25. UAE's largest healthcare provider, shady NMC Hospitals on verge of liquidation
 

Indus Pakistan

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This is not a Muslim ban. We all know UAE has recognized Israel. Those who run UAE don't want this to be just a paper exercise but want deep relations with Israel. And this would require 10,000s of Israeli's coming to UAE on holiday, to invest, to trade, to work. Only then would this 'recognition' confer advantage to UAE.

However there is only one problem with this. Some zombies [many actually sponsored by GCC in the past] represent a danger to this UAE-Israel relationship consolidating. What is that? Well zombies exploding themselves next to some Israeli's, some zombies planting a bomb near some Israeli tourists etc.

So how do you stop this? Well you look at countries which produce zombies. Sadly Pakistan has entire factories producing these human ticking bombs or crazed Israeli haters. Suddenly the list of countries makes sense. Notice Muslim Turkey which has very strained relations being excluded from the list. Reason Turkey does not produce zombies ...

So call this Zombie ban !!!
 

Ray02589

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The UAE leadership had a gun to their head. One example: the British and Austrlian press are now finally challenging the accounts of Princess Haya, the renegade ex-wife of Dubai ruler who fled to UK and sued him, revealing lurid details of the royal family that has been in the press for many months. It is finally revealed that she covered up relationship with bodyguard with multi-billion dollar hush money.

This ban was likely forced on UAE to divide the Muslim world politically, and thereby keep the attention away from Israel as it accelerates the complete dismantling of Palestinian identity. Dubai is a melting pot where many wealthy and influential Muslims from affected countries have second homes and business ties, and this action affects the rich of these countries even more than the poor (if visas are denied for an extended period).

There is also the India factor. Indians are the majority in the UAE (and several other GCC states) but until recently they were mostly secular Hindus. Now they are increasingly religious and nationalist, and so a huge temple is being built for them in the UAE. There are grumblings about this, especially from Pakistanis, but the UAE sees it only as a commercial venture to draw wealthy Hindu visitors. I believe Israel and the US want to premanently remove the primacy of Islam in the Gulf by building up a huge and religious Hindu community, while at the same time demanding moderation and tolerance from the Muslims so that the Hindus can spew anti-Islam venom in their homes and on social media without pushback, and this is already happening.
 

Homo Sapiens

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This is not a Muslim ban. We all know UAE has recognized Israel. Those who run UAE don't want this to be just a paper exercise but want deep relations with Israel. And this would require 10,000s of Israeli's coming to UAE on holiday, to invest, to trade, to work. Only then would this 'recognition' confer advantage to UAE.

However there is only one problem with this. Some zombies [many actually sponsored by GCC in the past] represent a danger to this UAE-Israel relationship consolidating. What is that? Well zombies exploding themselves next to some Israeli's, some zombies planting a bomb near some Israeli tourists etc.

So how do you stop this? Well you look at countries which produce zombies. Sadly Pakistan has entire factories producing these human ticking bombs or crazed Israeli haters. Suddenly the list of countries makes sense. Notice Muslim Turkey which has very strained relations being excluded from the list. Reason Turkey does not produce zombies ...

So call this Zombie ban !!!
Banning extremist Muslims was not the primary motivation for UAE rulers. Otherwise you would have seen Saudi Arabia, Egypt and France(highest number of recruitment for ISIS from Europe) in this list. But the reality is UAE is very close with these countries relationship wise.

This ban almost exclusively reflect the UAE's perception of it's adversary.

Iran and Turkey= banned for obvious political reasons, not for their extremist citizen. You would not find Iranian and Turkish Muslim radicalized individuals blowing up in other countries. Hundreds of thousands of Israeli visit Turkey each year as a tourists and they do not face any Islmaist attack. UAE is home to half a million Iranian expat without any problem.

Iraq, Syria, Lebanon= For close political co-operation with Iran.

Libya and Somalia= Govt. of these two are backed by Turkey and UAE support the rebel groups. UAE even support Islamist extremist rebels against Somalian govt.

Yemen= Due to Houthi rebels being such a pain in as* for Saudi/UAE war adventure. They have grudge and frustration against this country.

Algeria and Tunisia= Did not support UAE in it's Israel relation, and UAE expect them to join the Saudi/UAE coalition. These countries maintain distance which is perceived by UAE as hostile. You may ask, if extremism was the primary motivation for this ban, then why not Morocco? Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia are similar country when it comes to extremism problem and in the same region. Yet Morocco is excluded because Morocco is perceived to be closer to UAE/Saudi gang.

Pakistan= Similar to Algeria and Tunisia. UAE expect Pakistan to take a robust role supporting UAE/Saudi policies akin to Egypt. Pakistan's burgeoning relationship with Turkey is also making UAE fuming. Turkey is perceived by UAE rulers as the main geo-political adversary and threat.

Afghanistan and Kenya= To confuse and deceive other countries about the real motivation for this ban.
 
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