Dubai to Use Profiling to Detect Israelis

Natalie Brandt

Following the assassination of a Hamas operative, Dubai police will use voice and face profiling to detect Israelis arriving with foreign passports, the police chief said Monday. Israelis have always been forbidden from traveling to the United Arab Emirates on their passports, but dual-nationals could use their alternative passports to enter the country.

Lt. Gen. Dahi Khalfan Tamim said that travelers suspected of being Israeli will not be allowed into the Gulf country even if they arrive on another passport. The Emirates will “deny entry to anyone suspected of having Israeli citizenship,” Tamim said. Dual nationality is fairly common in Israel.

The move follows the killing of a senior Hamas operative in Dubai, blamed by the Emirates authorities on Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency.

Mahmoud al-Mabhouh was found dead in a Dubai hotel room on Jan. 20. The authorities have identified at least 26 suspects of the alleged hit squad that traveled to Dubai.

The hit squad used fake identities and forged European and Australian passports to kill al-Mabhouh. At least 15 of the suspected killers share names with Israeli citizens, further fueling suspicions the Mossad was behind the hit. “It is disgraceful how the killers abused European (and other) passports and UAE soil to assassinate,” Tamim told reporters at the sidelines of a security conference in Abu Dhabi. “We will not allow those who hold Israeli passports into the UAE no matter what other passport they have,” Tamim said.

He did not explain what procedures would be used to identify the Israeli visitors, except that the police will “develop skills” to recognize Israelis by “physical features and the way they speak.” It was also unclear if the measure would apply to Israeli athletes competing in international sports events in the Emirates and how it could affect Israel’s participation in international meetings. Last month, Israel’s Shahar Peer was allowed to play in a Dubai tennis tournament, a year after the event’s organizers were fined $300,000 for denying her a visa to participate in the international tournament. Security concerns had been cited at the time but were later overruled.

Many Israelis hold passports of other countries, allowing them to travel to states that have no diplomatic relations with the Jewish state, including all Arab countries, save Egypt and Jordan. Israel has maintained a policy of ambiguity on the killing, neither confirming or denying involvement.