Oct 15, 2007 8:32 | Updated Oct 15, 2007 8:58
Dubai bans Israel from Int’l forum
By SHARON WROBEL http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1192380556145&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FShowFull
In a last-minute decision, Dubai has refused to grant entry visas to an Israeli delegation of 25 forwarding and logistics firms that were planning to take part in next week’s World Congress of the FIATA, the International Federation of Freight Forwarders Associations.
“We are astonished to find out that FIATA has neither made any public comment about the refusal to grant us visas one week before the start of the Congress, nor has it voiced publicly its objection to such a policy,” said Shlomo Sharon, chairman of the Israel Federation of International Freight Forwarders & Customs Clearing Agents. “We have been under the impression and truly expected that in such a politically motivated decision, where one of its ordinary members is discriminated against, FIATA would come up and do more than just inform us, silently, that there are many problems.”
The FIATA World Congress, which is held under the patronage of General Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, vice president and prime minister of United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai, will take place from October 18-22, and was expected to be attended by 90 delegations from around the world.
“It is your duty to protect the principles of free movement of goods and people and you, I am sorry to say, have failed to stand for it,” Sharon wrote in a letter to the President of FIATA last week, demanding that the organization reconsider its position.
FIATA, a non governmental organization, represents an industry covering approximately 40,000 forwarding and logistics firms, employing 8 million-10 million people in 150 countries.
“The responsibility for entry visas lies with the organizer, which in this case is the FIATA,” said a representative of the Industry, Trade and Labor Ministry. “As such the FIATA should reconsider its position and cancel the congress altogether.”
In the run-up to the FIATA World Congress, the Israeli delegation had already transferred large sums to the organizers, booked flights and spent many working hours getting ready for the event.
“Nobody in FIATA has at any time raised the possibility of visa denial, the representatives in Dubai kept us waiting for many weeks with promises but never, I repeat, never felt that it was necessary to inform us about the true nature of the problems,” Sharon wrote in the letter to FIATA. “We, therefore, hold you fully responsible for all airline cancellation fees as well as indirect costs that we had to pay regarding the delegation.”
Dubai has, in the past, enforced an anti-Israel trade ban. Last year, The Jerusalem Post revealed that the Dubai Ports World, which is entirely owned by the government of Dubai via a holding company known as Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation (PCZC), joined the Arab boycott against Israel. Dubai Ports World actively enforced a trade embargo against Israel.