There has been some controversy this week regarding Dubai’s refusal to grant a visitors visa to Israeli tennis player, Shahar Peer so she can compete in the Dubai Tennis Championships.
It is my undestanding that visit visas are not grated to anyone with an Israeli stamp on their passports, or indeed a passport from Israel itself. Israeli sports people have got around this restriction in the past by travelling to Dubai on second passports. It is not known on which passport Shahar made her application for a visa.
Shahar competed in Qatar last year. You could argue that Qatar is Dubai’s rival for the sporting and business hub of the Middle East.
Apparently last year Dubai prevented an Israeli player from competing in the men’s doubles and the WTA protested and gave Dubai a warning that it had 12 months to rectify the siutation, meaning Dubai could not restrict players that had earned the right to compete in the 2009 tournament.
If Dubai maintains its current stance, it runs the risk of being struck off the international tennis circut by the WTA.
However, if it capitulates and allows visitors on Israeli passports then it appears to have sold out to the West in the eyes of many Arabs.
Stuck between a rock and a hard place, Dubai is being forced to make a choice.