UAE to resume flights to Tunis, ending row over ban on women

Emirates Airlines

The United Arab Emirates said on Thursday it would resume flights to Tunisia after an exchange of security information, resolving a row over a ban on female Tunisian passengers.

A statement by the foreign ministry on state news agency WAM said the decision was taken in light of extensive cooperation and information received from the Tunisian side that eased the national carriers’ concerns.

Tunisia’s transport ministry said an agreement had been reached after “contacts with the Emirati side at various levels”.

The UAE angered Tunisia by banning Tunisian women from its passenger flights in December. Tunis later said the UAE was acting on intelligence that female jihadists returning from Iraq or Syria could try to use Tunisian passports to stage attacks.

“In light of preventing dangers and threats that should be avoided to the largest degree, and in light of an extensive security dialogue and information received from the Tunisian side, the concerned authorities in the UAE have decided to return to normal procedures before the extraordinary circumstance,” the statement said.

Tunisia suspended flights from Dubai carrier Emirates to Tunis on Dec. 24 after the airline refused to carry Tunisian women.

The agreement to resume flights stipulates that the Emirati airline must abide by a bilateral aviation accord signed in 2000, and a desire to “avoid any future incident that affects or harms the fraternal relations between the two brotherly nations”, the Tunisian transport ministry statement said.

The UAE had not commented publicly on the issue until Thursday, except for a tweet by its Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, Anwar Gargash, which said both countries had been in contact about “security measure information”, adding that his country valued and respected Tunisian women.

Agency Report