The UAE is continuing to operate direct flights and tours to the Yemeni island of Socotra despite not having the permission of the government.
According to local sources, hundreds of foreign tourists have arrived on the archipelago over the past few days using visas granted to them by Abu Dhabi, from where weekly direct flights started in March.
Earlier this month an adviser to the Ministry of Information, Mukhar Al-Rahbi, said the island had “become violated by the UAE, which has planned to control it for years.”
“Today [the UAE] has become the primary controller in Socotra. Even the tourist delegations take permission to enter Socotra from the UAE,” he said.
Israeli Tourists in Socotra –
— الخبر اليمني (@alkhabar_ye) April 9, 2021
Images of foreign tourists have circulated recently across social media, with many activists claiming most are Israeli. Reports emerged last month after an image purporting to show a group of Israeli tourists accompanied by Emirati security officers and their assistants on the island.
The UAE-backed Southern Transitional Council militia which effectively controls the island after seizing its capital last year are also said to be preventing the entry of Yemeni citizens from the mainland under the pretext of preventing the spread of coronavirus.
The arrival of Israelis on the island comes months after normalisation agreements between Israel and along with the UAE and Bahrain were signed in September last year. Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways has already begun offering direct flights to Tel Aviv. The first flight carrying Israeli tourists to the UAE’s Dubai took place in November. Bahrain’s Gulf Air is set to start flights to Israel next month.