Iran-UAE tourism threatened by escalation in tensions
Iran has threatened to ban its citizens from travelling to the UAE in a stark escalation of tensions between the Gulf neighbours over Iran’s nuclear program.The development follows an expression of support by the UAE’s ambassador to Washington, Yousef al-Otaiba, for America’s threats to launch military action against Iran’s nuclear sites.”We cannot live with a nuclear Iran,” al-Otaiba told a conference in Aspen, Colorado. “I am willing to absorb what takes place at the expense of the security of the UAE.”The comments earned a swift rebuke from Iranian officials, with the threat of a ban on travel tied to a “teeth-breaking” response from the UAE’s northern neighbour.The UAE is traditionally one of Iran’s most popular tourism and business destinations, with a large expat community residing in Dubai. Trade, including tourism, is valued at $10 billion per annum between the two countries.Earlier, Dubai Airports and Abu Dhabi Airports Company (ADAC), which oversee the UAE’s two largest airports, released statements officially denying claims from Iran that they were refusing to refuel Iranian commercial airliners landing in both cities as part of an escalation of UN sanctions against the country.”Since last week, our planes have been refused fuel at airports in Britain, Germany and UAE because of the sanctions imposed by America,” said Mehdi Aliyari, secretary of the Iranian Airlines Union, as reported by Iranian news agency ISNA. “Refusing to provide fuel to Iranian passenger planes by these countries is violation of international conventions.”Yet, Dubai Airports was unequivocal in its denial of Aliyari’s claims. “Dubai Airports confirms that all Iranian aircraft flying into and out of the airport are being refuelled as normal,” it said in the statement.