Can I Enter Dubai With an Israeli Stamp in my Passport?

Can I enter dubai with an Israeli stamp in my passport

The other day, somebody asked me: “Can I enter Dubai with an Israeli stamp in my passport?”

 

I didn’t have a definitive answer for them, but I definitely had the same question when I traveled to the Middle East last summer.

 

Before I visited the United Arab Emirates, the company that set up my trip to Dubai informed me that I would not have any issues. A few travel forums told similar stories. And while the answer on those sites sounds like a resounding yes, there is a slight caveat. (Note: I actually did not have Israeli stamps in my passport. I forgot that I had received a new passport after I had traveled to Israel.)

But when I entered the country, the agent in his white abaya and black agal fastened around his head, studied my passport and then looked at me as if I were an alien asking for permission to visit Earth. Then he asked, “Did you come from Israel?”

 

I was taken aback, since I did not have the stamp. (But of course, Noah Levi Lederman, is not the most Christian- or Muslim-sounding name in the world.)

 

“New York,” I informed him.

 

He let me enter.

 

I didn’t think much about the interaction, until the next morning when an expatriate brought up Israel in conversation. She told me that her friend, who had a passport book filled with Israeli stamps had entered Dubai dozens of times, but, after encountering the wrong abaya-clad border agent, was prohibited from entering the UAE.

 

Since the UAE population is made up mostly of expatriates–and the ones living in Dubai make up about 80 percent of the city–it’s difficult to actually meet an Emirati. But during a lunch at one of Dubai’s most incredible hotels, I met one of those rare Emiratis and the topic of Israel came up again. As prejudgment would have it, I expected her to launch into a diatribe against the Jewish homeland. But instead, she said, “I really would love to visit Israel.”

 

Since the UAE does not recognize Israel as a legitimate country, she explained that she would not be able to travel there directly. She sat pondering possible ways of entry, such as flying to Jordan and crossing one of the land borders.

 

“But I worry that [the Jordanians] will inform my government on me,” she said.

 

“What could the government do to you?” one of the other women at our lunch asked. “This is your home.”

 

“They will question me. They could make things difficult.”

 

This summer as we plan to travel the world, I thought it worth remembering that, thanks to politics and religious animosity, not all of us have the same international freedoms. For some people this makes travel to some of the coolest places on our planet seem as likely as manned missions to Venus.

 

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Posted on by Noah Lederman in Lost In Translation, Or Bust

4 Responses to Can I Enter Dubai With an Israeli Stamp in my Passport?

  1. Mario Aeby

    My Swiss passport carries an Isreali stamp which I received during a visit in early 2009.

    On December 31 2014 I had no issues at all to enter Dubai. I don’t think the immigration officer even spotted the stamp among all those other stamps and visas in my passport.

    I assume this topic is mainly an urban myth which you can’t purge from the Internet anymore …
    Mario Aeby recently posted…Welcher Prozess verwendet unter Linux welchen Netzwerkport?My Profile

    • Noah Lederman

      I suspect being Swiss and your stamp-filled passport helped you out a bit. While it’s not common practice in Dubai, I suspect the question asked of me by the border agent and the stories, albeit hearsay, told to me by trusted sources have me suspect that it’s a bit more than urban myth. What’s your assumption based on?

  2. Mahmud Siddique

    I am from Bangladesh. A few Bangladeshi-American friends (they had US passports) entered Dubai after visiting Israel. The immigration officer did scrutinize the Israeli immigration stamps but let them through without any questions or comments. They did say that she was rude and slow, but that’s been my experience with almost all Emirati aiport staff. Now Saudi Arabia is a different story…

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