Don’t Reward Emirates Airlines for the UAE’s Decision to Ban Israeli Tennis Player

In case you hadn’t seen, the government of the United Arab Emirates refused to grant a visa to Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer to play in the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships in Dubai.  The reason why I’m writing about this anti-semitic bunch of nonsense is because there is an airline angle to this story:  Emirates Airlines is wholly owned by the government of Dubai.  The same government that decided not to give an Israeli a visa to play tennis based solely on her religion and where she lives.

Regardless of how you feel about what’s going on in Israel and the West Bank, this is a ridiculous display by a government that has been granted plenty of leeway in how it deals with migrant workers (appalling) and the Israel issue (pretty much don’t ask, don’t tell – until now).

The good news is that you can do something about it.  You can start by not flying Emirates.  If going to Dubai, Delta offers nonstops from Atlanta.  Quick connections are available on a bunch of carriers that don’t represent governments that discriminate based on religion (yes, yes, I know that the US government hasn’t been particularly welcoming to Muslims…two wrongs don’t make a right).

You have a second option on nearly every route Emirates flies – given the goverment’s behavior, I recommend choosing one of those other options.  The UAE relies on tourism and continued real estate growth – not oil – for their wealth.  Travelers can actually make an impact by not visiting and not flying their airline.  Don’t reward Emirates for discrimination.


  1. I tend to agree with you. Countries have a choice to live in the modern world, or not live in the modern world. Flying Emirates is a little like attending the party of an acquaintance who has a fondness for racist humor on the self-justification that he throws a nice party.

  2. I couldn’t have said that better myself…

  3. Precisely for the above reasons I have not travelled to the US since summer 2001 (well before 9/11), or bough their products if it could be avoided. Interesting, isn’t it…

  4. 1. The article points out that the US discriminates against muslim people and that “two wrongs dont make a right.” Fair enough, but then why shouldn’t US airlines be subject to your ridiculous boycott?

    2. Jared incorrectly states they discriminated against this tennis star because of his religion – not because of his national identity. I’m so over this confusion of anti-semitism and opposition to the STATE of Israel. I have a feeling that if an American Jew applied for a visa he’d get it just as fast as any muslim. Similiary, any muslim israeli’s would probably be denied.

    3. Sure the government of Dubai owns emirates – but we have no reason to believe that emirates management supported/cared/had anything to do with this visa decesion. They ar

    4. Suggesting we fly delta is like suggesting we jump into a lake of fire. Not reasonable.

  5. Sanjay:

    1) You are free to boycott whichever airlines you’d like. However, unlike Emirates, none of the US carriers are owned by the US government.

    2) In the case of Israel, religion and country are tightly tied together. It’s a difference without a distinction.

    3) You are correct – there is no reason to believe that Emirates Airlines supported the decision. But their owners did, and that’s what I care about.

    4) At least the lake of fire is not owned by racists.

  6. Jared,
    I guess I shouldn’t be, but I’m surprised your post is apparently so controversial with some. Thanks for having guts and sticking to your guns.
    FYI the Wall Street Journal has an article today saying that they’ve dropped their sponsorship of the tennis touranment over this incident. The article states that other sponsors including Newsweek and Rolex either declined to comment or didn’t respond to requests. Yet another reason the Journal will be worth continuing to pay for, while Newsweek will remain something I only read at the doctor’s office.

  7. Thanks, Marla. I’m not sure what’s controversial about this whole thing, or why other sponsors didn’t drop out immediately. I give credit to the Tennis Channel for being the first to react to this by dropping their coverage of the tournament.

  8. Jared:

    Picking on Emirates Airlines for what the government of the UAE has done is pretty silly.

    The logic breaks down from there:

    1. Emirates is owned by the State of Dubai, and they aren’t the ones in charge of visas to the UAE.
    2. Last time I looked, about 20% of the Israeli population isn’t Jewish, so that is very far from being a distinction without a difference.
    3. I’m not even sure the UAE recognizes Israel, and if so, under international law, they don’t have to allow Israeli citizens in. Sorry, I can’t visit Cuba either.

    The proper response is exactly what Roddick did today, and left the tourney. Props to him.

  9. I’m not picking on Emirates, nor am I suggesting that Emirates did anything wrong. I’m saying that Emirates’ owner did something wrong, and we shouldn’t be supporting their ownership. I think everyone can make their own decision about whether they should visit Dubai (I actually enourage other Jews to visit Arab countries, because I think everyone who visits is pleasantly surprised by how similar we all are). But I think supporting businesses owned by the government is a bad idea – you are free to fly whoever you want.

  10. We are disagreeing on who owns Emirates: yes, Dubai is part of the UAE but there are some serious differences between Duabi and the federal UAE. That may all be moot as Abu Dhabi is bailing everyone out.

    Happy ending:

  11. United Arab Emirates has the right to bannd any israil citizen to come to there country cuz u know what israil doesthe same thing so be quiet

  12. Sure they have the right to ban Israelis…and I have the right to tell people not to fly Emirates because of it. And please stop acting as if the UAE’s decision to ban the Israeli tennis player is based on their extreme outrage over Israel’s behavior. Give me a break.

  13. there is no way I will stop flying Emirates and switch for Delta… which offers no drinks, ugly fat old flight attendants and little food…not willing to punish myself for 12 hours in solidarity with a tennis player with no chances of winning…

  14. …as many of the other guys said, if you are jewish american, you Will be granted the visa… so where is the anti semitic policy here??? And you said that the owners of the american companies are not racist??? How can you be sure??? According to your policy we should then stop flying all the american carriers because they have been used to transport the military that killed thousands of innocents in Iraq

  15. How hypocritical is that “withdrawing sponsorship”, so do you think it is more ethical to remove sponsorship than support dictatorships??? FYI your “fair and non racist” companies are supporting (among many others) Nguema Mbasogo, a horrible dictator in Equatorial Guinea, killing and enslaving thousands but as he is of benefit to your country, therefore received with honours in the US…