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Babylon & Beyond

Observations from Iraq, Iran,
Israel, the Arab world and beyond

Category: Aviation

UNITED ARAB EMIRATES: Government plans to charge Canadians up to $1,000 for visas


Don't expect a lot of Canadians at the annual landmark Dubai Shopping Festival next year unless they're willing to plunk down serious cash to enter the country.

The United Arab Emirates is set to begin charging Canadian travelers up to $1,000 for entry visas starting Jan. 2.

They would need to pay a $250 fee for a one-month visa, a $500 fee for a three-month visa and $1,000 for a visa valid for up to two weeks at a time over a six-month period, according to the website of the UAE Embassy in Ottawa.

Canada was previously among 30 countries whose citizens could obtain entry visas upon arrival at UAE airports. The new guidelines come amid a growing battle between the UAE and Canada over landing rights for commercial flights.

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ISRAEL: More help on the way to fight Carmel fire

As more international help continues to fly into Israel to help combat the fire decimating the Carmel woodland, the worst in the country's history, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed thanks for the many helping hands. He has spoken with 30 heads of state over the the last three days and says he finds the mobilization heartwarming. There is "no shame" in receiving help, said Netanyahu. "It is part of our existence in a global village.... We both receive and extend assistance."

The wake-up call was harsh and Netanyahu heard it well.  The prime minister announced his intention to supply Israel with an aerial firefighting force, "which we need in this era of global warming." Speaking Satuday at the command center set up at Haifa University, Netanyahu commented on assistance from the Palestinians, Jordan and Egypt, and said that forming and equipping the force will establish "a regional network for the benefit of our peoples." A proposal for building the force will be submitted quickly and budgeting expedited.

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WEST BANK: Building the airport before the state

In its "Palestine: Ending the Occupation, Establishing the State" program presented in August 2009, the Palestinian Authority said that one of its objectives is the construction of Palestine International Airport in the West Bank.

Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said in the forward to the document that this program "centers around the objective of building strong state institutions capable of providing, equitably and effectively, for the needs of our citizens, despite the [Israeli] occupation." He gave his program two years to be implemented.

The Ministry of Transportation, delegated the task of following up on building the airport, said Wednesday that it had completed all necessary feasibility studies and that groundbreaking will take place in the first half of next year.

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IRAN: Three aviation incidents in 24 hours highlight hazards of flying


As many as 600 people aboard three different planes owned by Iranian airline companies were endangered when two of the aircraft made emergency landings after the engines caught fire and another ran off the runway, all within a 24-hour period.

Iran's aviation industry has a history of fatal technical failures, with 14 fatal civilian and military aviation accidents since 2000, seven of which have taken place during Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's presidency, according to a previous report by the Los Angeles Times.

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IRAN: Flight attendant fired, minister threatened with impeachment in 'Persian' vs. 'Arabian' Gulf spat [Updated]


Here are two words that'll cost you your job in Iran: "Arabian Gulf."

Iranians take seriously their claim that the body of water separating them from the Arabian Peninsula should be called the Persian Gulf, and not the Arabian Gulf, as some in the Arab world call it. 

A Greek flight attendant for the Iranian-owned Kish Air learned this lesson the hard way. 

He was fired, according to Iranian media, after he allegedly traded words with passengers who complained against the use of the phrase "Arabian Gulf" on a plane's in-flight monitors.

Iranian officials have reprimanded the airline and deported the flight attendant. 

Now a group of lawmakers is gunning for the minister of transportation, Hamid Behbahani, a crony of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, over the incident, according to a report by the Mehr News Agency (in Persian).

"The use of a false name instead of the Persian Gulf on board the Kish-Tehran flight sparked the move," Mehr quoted lawmaker Mostafa Kavakebian as saying.

[Updated, Feb. 22, 9:15 a.m. PST: Behbahani has since delivered a warning that airlines flying to and from Iran have 15 days to remove any references to the "Arabian Gulf" or even "The Gulf" from their in-cabin television monitors "If they fail to do so, first they will be prevented to enter Iran for one month and if they enter Iran they will be grounded and the departure permission will not be issued for them," he said, according to state television. "If [the offense] is repeated, the permission for the airline company will be revoked."]

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IRAN: Deceased airline executive's tale shows civil aviation challenges, dangers


Contrary to reports in the Iranian news media and this paper, the son of a well-known Aria Airlines executive who perished in a crash aboard one of his company's planes last summer is alive and well, and hoping to clear up some facts about his late dad.

The executive, Mehdi Dadpay, or Dadpei, was a retired U.S.-trained air force fighter pilot. 

After the revolution, he risked his liberty to return home, distinguishing himself as a commander of an Iranian air force unit fighting in the Iran-Iraq war. He later organized humanitarian interventions in disaster areas. All this earned him the "grudging respect" of the political leadership, his son Ali Dadpay says. 

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