Tunisia on Sunday suspended all Emirates flights to and from the North African country, AFP reported. The move came two days after Tunis said the United Arab Emirates had banned women holding Tunisian passports from flying or travelling through its territory.
Many women had said that the airline had denied them permission to board their flights to Dubai or that they had to undergo additional visa checks. Some of the women had said that their flights were inordinately delayed.
“The Ministry of Transport has decided to suspend the flights of Emirates Airlines to and from Tunisia until the company can find a suitable solution to operate its flights in accordance with international laws and treaties,” the government said.
Emirates confirmed the development and said that it will follow the Tunisian authorities’ instructions.
The United Arab Emirates, however, said that the delays were due to security information. “We contacted our Tunisian brothers about security information that necessitated taking specific procedures,” UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs Anwar Gargash said on Twitter. “We highly value Tunisian women and respect them.”
Many Tunisian rights groups and people on social media criticised the United Arab Emirates and called its measures “discriminatory and racist”.