Jordanians boycott Dubai dental conference

People walk around an exhibition structure

Visitors explore the Israeli pavilion at Expo 2020 world exhibition in Dubai on 23 November 2021. Israel was set to participate in the event before the UAE and Israel established formal diplomatic relations.

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Palestinians are calling for a boycott of a dental conference in Dubai that they consider a vehicle for normalization.

AEEDC, the United Arab Emirates’ international dental conference, is hosting five Israeli groups, including the Israel Export Institute.

“Involving Israeli companies in a conference held on Arab land” poses a danger to the ethics of the “medical profession itself, by legitimizing a racist colonial regime under medical cover,” the national committee of the boycott, divestment and sanctions movement announced on twitter.

Arab companies are also taking part, including from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, UAE and even Lebanon. A doctor from Oman will speak at the conference.

The Gulf Coalition Against Normalization urged all Gulf participants and corporations to withdraw from the conference.

The Jordan Dental Association announced it would boycott the conference due to “the participation of Zionists.” It urged all members to boycott the event to avoid being penalized under union accountability.

The conference, which is taking place the first three days of February, comes less than nine months after the Israeli military killed two distinguished Palestinian doctors during its 11-day bombardment of Gaza last May that claimed more than a hundred other civilian lives.

Dr. Ayman Tawfiq Abu al-Ouf, head of internal medicine at al-Shifa hospital, was killed along with his wife Reem Ahmad Abu al-Ouf, 40, and their children Tala, 13, and Tawfiq, 17, during the al-Wihda street massacre on 16 May.

At least 44 Palestinians, including 18 children, were killed on the same street that day.

Multiple generations of multiple families were obliterated.

Muin Ahmad al-Alul, 66, another doctor and a colleague of Dr. Ayman, also died in the same attack.

The United Arab Emirates has used athletic competitions and business cooperation as vehicles for normalization even before the Abraham Accords were signed between it and Israel in 2020.

Those steps led to the establishment of formal diplomatic relations in August of that year.

But those conferences are now becoming vehicles of normalization with Arab states with which Israel does not have formal relations, such as Saudi Arabia’s participation in the dental conference as well as next month’s Emirates Airline Festival of Literature in Dubai.

Several Arab writers withdrew from the literature festival and Palestinians are urging other Arab participants to follow suit.

Israeli foreign minister Yair Lapid told the army radio on Tuesday that Israel seeks to “expand the Abraham Accords to additional countries,” according to Tel Aviv daily Haaretz.

“If you’re asking me what the important countries that we’re looking at are, Indonesia is one of them, Saudi Arabia of course, but these things take time,” he said.

His remarks come as Israeli President Isaac Herzog prepares to travel to Abu Dhabi on Sunday for the first presidential visit of its kind to the Gulf state.

Both conferences fall on the heels of an intensifying attack by the United Arab Emirates on Yemen.

The Saudi-led coalition launched airstrikes on a prison in Sa’ada City on 21 January, killing at least 82 and injuring hundreds, according to Doctors Without Borders.

“There are not enough beds for all of the wounded” at the hospital, a staffer with Doctors Without Borders said, “with casualties lying on the floor.”

The airstrikes came after Houthi rebels had launched rockets at Abu Dhabi, killing three people.

Yemen has been subject to a Saudi-led war and bombardment since 2015, which has killed tens of thousands of people and caused the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

“This is the latest in a long line of unjustifiable airstrikes carried out by the Saudi-led coalition on places like schools, hospitals, markets, wedding parties and prisons,” said Ahmed Mahat, the Doctors Without Borders head of mission in Yemen.

“Since the beginning of the war we have frequently witnessed the terrible effects of indiscriminate coalition bombing on Yemen, including when our own hospitals have been attacked.”


Tamara Nassar

Tamara Nassar is an assistant editor at The Electronic Intifada.