UAE denies visas to Lebanese sports ministry delegation

Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Muttalib Henawi
Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Muttalib Henawi

Abu Dhabi authorities have reportedly barred a delegation representing the Lebanese Ministry of Youth and Sports from entering the United Arab Emirates.

Lebanese media sources said that members of the delegation were denied visas to enter UAE and take part in the first Arab Youth Forum in Dubai, reported Arabic Al Jazirah.

This came after the United Arab Emirates decided to downsize number of employees at its embassy in Beirut as part of GCC’s steps to counter Hezbollah and confront its hostile policies in Arab countries.

Lebanon minister regrets move
Sports and Youth Minister Abdul-Muttaleb al-Henawi has expressed regret over the United Arab Emirates’ decision not to grant visas to a Lebanese delegation to attend an Arab youth conference in Dubai.

“I was hoping that the Lebanese delegation would be given visas to participate in this Arab gathering which brings together youths from all over the Arab world. It would have been better to deal with what happened in the right spirit and not politically,” Henawi told the local daily Al-Joumhouria in remarks published Tuesday.

The delegation was set to represent Lebanon in the four-day First Arab Youth Forum for Volunteer groups in Dubai. Sixty people from 12 Arab states were scheduled to participate in the forum, which began Sunday.

UAE officials have not commented on the reason behind the decision not to grant the visas, however Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, UAE and Qatar all issued travel warnings  against Lebanon last month, after Riyadh announced its decision to suspend $4 billion in aid to the Army and police in response to “hostile” stances by Lebanese officials and Hezbollah.

Gulf countries have been angered by positions taken by Hezbollah and Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil, a close ally of the Iranian backed militant group.

Last week, the Gulf Cooperation Council declared Hezbollah a terrorist organization.