U.S. ban on electronic devices from Mideast airports sparks confusion, outrage

Turkish Airlines

The ban on electronic devices in the hand luggage on direct flights from 10 international airports in eight countries of the Middle East and North Africa has triggered confusion and public outrage in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), a close U.S. ally in the Gulf.

Emirati Professor of Political Science, Abdulkhaleq Abdulla, tweeted “Not what you expect from a friendly country.

The U.S. bans electronics on flights from MENA airports Israel excluded.” Shilps C., a travel blogger from Dubai, tweeted “Such ridiculous bans!”

The move sparked also outrage outside the region.

“What’s the rationale behind it?” asked Olivier Guitta, the managing director of security consultancy Global Strat.

Local media reported the U. S. started on Tuesday banning electronic devices such as laptops and tablets from cabin luggage on certain flights originating from eight countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

The biggest carrier in the Middle East Emirates Airline from Dubai said in an e-mailed statement the directive comes into effect on March 25, and is valid until Oct. 14.

Emirates added it can confirm that as per the new security directive issued by the Transportation Security Administration, electronic devices larger than a cell phone/smart phone, excluding medical devices, cannot be carried in the cabin of the aircraft.

The new rule, which took effect on Tuesday, applies to nonstop U.S.-bound flights from 10 international airports in the cities of Cairo in Egypt, Amman in Jordan, Kuwait City in Kuwait.

Others are Casablanca in Morocco, Doha in Qatar, Riyadh and Jeddah in Saudi Arabia, Istanbul in Turkey, and Abu Dhabi and Dubai in the United Arab Emirates.

German daily Die Welt quoted a U.S. security officer who spoke on the television channel NBC saying the move follows “an adaptation of the analysis of threats.”

On March 6, Trump signed a revised executive order barring citizens from Iran, Libya, Syria, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen from traveling to the United States for 90 days.

Two federal judges have halted parts of the ban, saying it discriminates against Muslims. Trump has vowed to appeal up to the Supreme Court if necessary.

A senior government officials said the he airports affected by the electronics rules are served by nine airlines that fly directly from those cities to the United States about 50 times a day.

The carriers – Royal Jordanian Airlines, Egypt Air, Turkish Airlines, Saudi Arabian Airlines, Kuwait Airways [KA.UL], Royal Air Maroc, Qatar Airways, Emirates and Etihad Airways, have until Friday to comply with the new policy, which took effect early on Tuesday and will be in place indefinitely.

The policy does not affect any American carriers because none fly directly to the United States from the airports, officials said.

Officials did not explain why the restrictions only apply to travelers arriving in the United States and not for those same flights when they leave the United States.

The rules do apply to U.S. citizens traveling on those flights, but not to crew members on those foreign carriers. Homeland Security will allow passengers to use larger approved medical devices.