UAE refuses to grant visa to Israeli tennis player

The United Arab Emirates has refused to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer to take part in a $2 million tennis tournament in Dubai.

UAE refuses to grant visa to Israeli tennis player

The United Arab Emirates has refused to grant a visa to Israeli player Shahar Peer to take part in a $2 million tennis tournament in Dubai this week, the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Tour said.

The board of directors will now meet to discuss the future of the Dubai tournament. WTA rules insist that any player should be allowed to play at any event on the tour.

The Dubai Tennis Championship is one of the WTA Tour's most prestigious events and this week features every player from the world's top 10 except the injured Nadia Petrova.

Like most Arab countries, the UAE has also no diplomatic ties with the Jewish state and Israelis are routinely denied entry.

Dubai Duty Free, owners and organisers of the event, have made no comment. There was no immediate comment from the UAE government.

Peer, a former top 20 player currently ranked 48, became the first Israeli to play in a tour event in the Gulf Arab region when she took part in the Qatar Open in February 2008.

Qatar, which had low-level ties with Israel including an Israeli trade office in its capital, suspended those relations in protest against the three-week Israeli offensive against the Gaza Stripi killing 1300 Palestinians, a third of them children.

At the time, Peer said she had received a warm welcome in Doha.

"I really got a warm welcome from the tournament," Peer said. "When you go on the court you don't think about politics. You just want to play your tennis. They treat me really nice. I feel very comfortable."

"I'm not coming here to help the politics of course, but if by me playing in this tournament it can help anything in the world, for peace or anything, I'll be really happy," she said.

The Gaza offensive caused deep anger around the Arab and Muslim worlds.

Reuters

Last Mod: 15 Şubat 2009, 17:39
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