Arab News reports on the story making its way through Saudi-bashing forums about how Saudia — the national airline of Saudi Arabia — allegedly discriminates against Jews by not allowing them to transit the country on route to further destinations. As the Saudi Arabian Airlines spokesman reports, this is not a matter of religious discrimination. Jews can indeed transit the country, or enter it for that matter. Israelis however, no matter their religion, can not. This is because Saudi Arabia and Israel do not have diplomatic relations. Airlines do not carry passengers to a destination in which they cannot receive permission to enter, plain and simple.

The attempted ‘gotcha’ on the part of a New York politician fails because he neglected basic international law. Or, perhaps it succeeded in the eyes of those he’s trying to court through ignorance.

Saudia rejects ‘discrimination’ allegation
JEDDAH: JASSIM ABUZAID

Khaled Al-Molhem, director general of Saudi Arabian Airlines, has rejected allegations that his airline discriminated against nationalities but emphasized that it would uphold the sovereign rights of countries.

“We don’t discriminate against passengers on the basis of nationality and religion,” Al-Watan Arabic daily quoted Al-Molhem as saying while commenting on US media reports that Saudia did not allow an Israeli to board its flight.

“Diplomatic relations and political exchange are basic requirements for a person to enter a country,” the Saudia chief said indicating that Saudi Arabia does not have diplomatic relations with Israel.

Al-Molhem made it clear: “We cannot accept a passenger if his country does not have political relations with Saudi Arabia because it would be impossible for him to enter the country.”


July:19:2013 - 07:17 | Comments & Trackbacks (5) | Permalink
5 Responses to “Contrived Flap Flops”
  1. 1
    Keith Said:
    July:23:2013 - 05:58 

    I think the “Diplomatic Relations” excuse is a bit of a red herring. The UK does not have formal Diplomatic relations with Iran at present, having kicked out all their diplomats a couple of years ago. But that does not prevent UK nationals travelling to Iran and vice versa.

    I am afraid the truth is that Saudi Arabia will never knowingly allow a Jew to enter its hallowed territory. What other country asks for religion on its immigration/landing cards? Were you to enter Jewish or atheist for that matter on your card, it would be interesting to see how far one got. I guarantee you that there is not a single foreigner with an Iqama (residence visa)in Saudi Arabia who has owned up to being Jewish. Let’s not forget that when the USA in its great wisdom decided to send a Jewish Ambassador to Riyadh, he was never allowed to present his credentials to the King and quite soon was replaced.

    Come on John, you know it’s true.

  2. 2
    John Burgess Said:
    July:23:2013 - 07:43 

    @Keith: How states deal with their diplomatic relations is up to the states. There’s no requirement that all states act the same way.

    It is not at all true, however, that Jews do not and cannot work in or travel to/through Saudi Arabia. They do. I’ve seen them, met them, been to their homes in Saudi Arabia. They even hold private religious services in their homes — as do members of any faith other than Islam.

    The Saudi government asks whether a person is Muslim or non-Muslim; it doesn’t care for any finer distinctions. All you need do is answer “Muslim” or “Non-Muslim” as the case applies. I’m unaware of the US having sent a Jewish ambassador to Saudi Arabia only to have him rejected. The US, as a matter of course, sends Jewish officers to Saudi Arabia. In fact, the only Ambassador to be rejected, to the best of my knowledge, was Hume Horan. The reason given by the Saudis — which I have no reason to doubt — was that his father was a highly placed Iranian official. They suspected that Horan might have mixed loyalties — a conclusion I do not agree with.

  3. 3
    Keith Said:
    July:23:2013 - 10:41 

    John, I beg to differ. I do not believe that a foreigner seeking employment in Saudi Arabia who stated that his religion was Judaism would be granted a visa. Just the same as there are virtually no Sikhs in Saudi, at least not when I was there for nine years. Salafists/Wahibis regard Sikhs as heretics as I am sure you know, and it was only with the greatest difficulty and with diplomatic pressure that Air India eventually managed to get their Sikh country manager into Saudi. Even getting visas for Hindus or Budhists was problematic. Of course there are Jews working in Saudi, but they enter as non-Jews. And as I am sure you are aware, the all important Iqama identification document that we foreigners (perhaps not diplomats) had to carry at all times clearly states one’s religion. In fact foreign Muslims got a green Iqama and all non – Muslims a brown one, so there was instant recognition of the infidel.

    As for holding religious services John, you know full well that these are clandestine; how many Catholic Filipinos have ended up in prison after a raid by the Muttawa, (religious police) on a religious service in a private home. How many cruxifixes, bibles and the paraphenalia of other religions have been confiscated at Saudi Customs and tossed on the floor. Beyond counting.

  4. 4
    John Burgess Said:
    July:23:2013 - 16:12 

    @Keith: What can I say? I worked with Jewish Americans, Canadians, French, and British. Some worked for diplomatic missions, but most worked for private Saudi companies and a few for the Saudi government.

    As I noted, the Saudi forms do not want to know what sect or religion you follow, only whether you’re Muslim or Non-Muslim.

    I’m sure that religious paraphernalia has been confiscated when people try to bring it into the country, not matter the religion it comes from, but that is not Saudi law. I also know people — including Saudis — who have brought in Bibles, Torahs, and various other religious texts.

    Assuredly, I’m not even remotely saying that there’s religious freedom in Saudi Arabia. I am saying that the religious repression has lessened since the 1980s.

  5. 5
    Andrew Said:
    July:24:2013 - 17:00 

    There are indeed Jews who have entered our country.

    I have met them and they did not lie to our authorities.

    It is possible, of course, that there may be limits of numbers for such Jews in our nation.

    However, there is not an exclusion total of Jews.

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