Dhabiya Khamis al Muhairi said UAE authorities barred her from travelling from Dubai to Cairo because of her criticism towards the UAE-Israel normalisation deal.
Emirati poet and academic Dhabiya Khamis al Muhairi was banned by UAE authorities from leaving Dubai International Airport on a Cairo-bound flight on Saturday, apparently due to her opposition to the UAE’s recent normalisation deal with Israel.
“I am Emirati writer Dhabiya Khamis. I was banned from flying today due to an order from Abu Dhabi without being given a specific reason,” she wrote on social media.
“Most likely this is because of my publicly announced position against the Zionists and normalisation”.
She also expressed fears over her safety, stating: “I am fearful for my freedom and life from threats and arrest.”
The 62-year-old poet urged human rights organisations to intervene to hold Emirati authorities accountable for “any oppression, arrest, assassination or liquidation I am subjected to”.
Dhabya Khamis: a scholar, poet, and diplomat from the UAE is fearing for her life. She was banned from travel. She wants the world to know that she is being punished for her views against Israel and for her opposition to normalization. Normalization can only be imposed by despots pic.twitter.com/pmCzpOookk— asad abukhalil أسعد أبو خليل (@asadabukhalil) September 26, 2020
Previously a diplomat for the Arab League, al Muhairi was expelled from her job in 2010 after an opinion piece she published in 2009 that criticised the League.
In 1987, she was arrested at her home and held in solitary confinement for months without charge or court proceedings over an article she wrote. She then left the UAE and lived abroad for 30 years.
Al Muhairi said the travel ban is reminiscent of her detention.
“It looks like we are returning to 87,” she tweeted.
The UAE signed a US-brokered normalisation deal with Israel on August 13, and Bahrain shortly followed with its own agreement to establish full diplomatic ties with Israel earlier this month.
The normalisation pacts triggered opposition from Palestinians, who condemned the Gulf states’ actions as a “betrayal” to the Palestinian struggle against Israeli occupation.
Recent reports suggest both Sudan and Oman could announce normalisation deals with Israel as soon as the coming week.
Brook no dissent
In the wake of normalisation, the UAE State Security Agency reportedly arrested scores of Emiratis, Palestinians and Jordanians living in the country for expressing criticism of Abu Dhabi’s so-called “peace deal” with Tel Aviv.
Many Emiratis in exile abroad, where it is safer to express their views, described it as a “betrayal of the nation and the people” as well as “a stain on the regime’s face”.
Amid a crackdown on dissent against the deal in the Gulf monarchy, a network of Emirati activists launched a group called the Emirati Resistance Union against Normalisation (ERUN).
An opinion poll conducted by the Washington Institute for Near East Policy in June revealed that 80 percent of Emiratis oppose the establishment of relations with Israel.
To further clamp down against dissent, UAE government-linked Twitter accounts called on security services to monitor social media posts of residents opposed to normalisation.
Other government-linked accounts promoted the My Safe Society app, which encourages users to report “ideas which threaten the safety of UAE society”. The app has been criticised as “Orwellian” and “totalitarian”.
According to Amnesty International, over 100 peaceful activists and critics of the UAE government have been imprisoned on vague national security-related charges since 2001, with at least 67 still in prison.