March 7, 2016
The UAE should sever commercial ties with Iran, as Iranian authorities would not allow Emiratis to “open a shack” in their home country, Dubai’s security chief has claimed.
Lieutenant General Dahi Khalfan bin Tamim, Head of General Security for the Emirate of Dubai, claimed the authorities should cease renewing trade licences and ask business owners to leave the country within three years.
Khalfan made the comments on Twitter, drawing both support and criticism from social media users.
The row made the front pages of newspapers in Iran over the weekend.
Iran has been accused of supporting Houthi rebels fighting in Yemen, and Shia militias in Lebanon and Syria. However, Iran denies providing military support for the Houthis.
Khalfan wrote: “We shouldn’t allow any Iranian to open a commercial shop in the Arabian Gulf. They are not allowing us to open a shack [in their country]. They are useless.”
He further claimed: “China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Africa are a thousand times better than Iran for commercial trading.”
He continued: “Within three years, we must ask all Iranian shop owners to leave the country and not to renew their trade licence. Our people need to open those shops instead of Iranians.”
Khalfan went on to say that Gulf states should ban Iranian commodities from sale as part of efforts to combat “reckless behaviour” on the part of Iran.
Khalfan – who has 1.3 million Twitter followers – further urged them to avoid Iranian goods.
He said: “Every dirham spent on Iranian goods will go towards killing more Syrians and will be used in buying weapons and explosives. Leave the Iranian goods on their shelves. Investment in Iran is just like investment for Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves.”
In January, the UAE downgraded its diplomatic presence in Iran, saying Tehran’s meddling in the affairs of its Gulf neighbours had reached an “unprecedented” level.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs said it had summoned home Saif Al Zaabi, the UAE Ambassador in Tehran, leaving the embassy in the hands of a charge d’affaires, an official who runs the mission in the absence of a diplomatic presence.
The ministry also said at the time that it would require Iran to reduce the number of diplomats stationed in the UAE.
The move came after Saudi Arabia cut diplomatic relations with Iran after protesters stormed and set fire to the Saudi embassy in Tehran. Iran’s top leader had earlier harshly criticised Saudi’s execution of Shia cleric Sheikh Nimr Al Nimr, who was killed in a mass execution.