Tiger Woods owns property there. So does David Beckham and Posh Spice. So does Bradjalina. And they’re far from the only Westerners.
So when news broke that Israeli tennis player Shahar Peer was denied a visa by the United Arab Emirates over the weekend, many asked the obvious question: What’s their problem with tennis players?
Actually, Peer was denied a visa just days before she was set to play in Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships – a Women’s Tennis Association tournament that already listed her in the draw. So since Dubai hosts this tournament and a men’s one as well – and Roger Federer often trains there before the Australian Open – it seems Peer may have been denied her promised visa for some other reason.
Let’s see. She’s ranked 48th in the world, so she qualified for the tournament.
She plays tournaments around the world, so she’s not on a no-fly list.
Hmmm… I’m starting to think it’s because she’s from Israel, a country that has no diplomatic relationship with the UAE.
If that’s the case, just wait until they hear what WTA officials say about this.
“We are deeply disappointed by the decision of the United Arab Emirates denying Shahar Peer a visa that would permit her to enter the country to play in the Dubai Tennis Championships,” Larry Scott, chief executive officer of the WTA Tour, said in a news release on Sunday.
“Ms. Peer has earned the right to play in the tournament and it is regrettable that the UAE is denying her this right.”
No, “regrettable” is locking your keys in the car. It’s failing to put leftovers in the fridge or forgetting a friend’s birthday.
This is bullshit, plain and simple.
“The Sony Ericsson WTA Tour believes very strongly, and has a clear rule and policy, that no host country should deny a player the right to compete at a tournament for which she has qualified by ranking,” added Scott.
Well, the UAE did just that. But I’m confident if they do it again, tour officials will step things up by using the word “unfortunate” shortly after cashing their massive cheques.
Not to worry, I’m sure her colleagues have her back.
“All the players support Shahar,” said seven-time Grand Slam champion Venus Williams in an interview with the Associated Press. “The players have to be unified and support the Tour whichever direction they take on the issue.”
Apparently, Williams’ support of Peer is limited to saying “players support” her. As she said, if the Tour decides not to do anything, Williams will support that.
The Tour did not cancel the tournament, so Williams will defend her title there this week.
Sorry to get all conspiracy-minded on you, but is it a stretch to say that the UAE is using the recent actions in the Israel-Palestine conflict as an excuse for denying her a visa?
Shall we look at the UAE’s reason for denying the visa?
Tournament organizers have expressed a concern for her safety. They have not said much more.
If anything, organizers should have said they are concerned with the safety of the fans – at least that would sound less patronizing.
But I wouldn’t buy that either.
The UAE is a master of getting away with crap like this – and not just because they can spend their way to hell and back. They present a facade of liberal thinking to the West, but can be just as backwards as most Arab nations.
But I digress – clearly I’m being too judgmental.
It’s not like they imprison homosexuals – oh wait, they do.
At least they have freedom of speech. Oops, no they don’t. But hey, Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is, after all, filled with some crazy ideas.
Well, rest assured, slavery has been abolished. Crap, I forgot that – although they deny it – there’s plenty of evidence that the state actually funds slavery, smuggling in women from all over the world to be held as sex slaves by brothel owners and wealthy citizens.
Just peruse a local Dubai newspaper, you might spot some advertisements for “absconding servants” placed by “owners.”
Oh, swing low sweet chariot of lies – those are escaped slaves!
I know how supportive the Arab world is to women playing sports… professionally… while wearing skimpy outfits.
But I think it’s time for the WTA to show a little chutzpah and get the hell out of there until the UAE can prove they deserve one of the biggest tournaments in women’s tennis.
Contact Tom Patrick at