Sultanate seeks answers as UK probes episode

By: Bader al Kiyumi

MUSCAT: Feb. 24: Abdulaziz bin Zahir al Hinai, Omani Ambassador in London, regrets the treatment meted out to Omani girls in the United Kingdom on arrival at London Stansted Airport. The girls were in detention for few hours without informing the Omani Embassy in London. “I hoped this is an isolated incident and hope this will not happen again. Last year and particularly after the UK launched E-visa the number of Omanis who visited Britain increased by 150 per cent — from 12,000 to 30,0000,” Al Hinai stated. He added that the Omani Embassy in London requested clarifications from the British authorities “why the Omani students were treated in this manner.”

Also, the embassy in London has contacted the Omani Embassy in Holland to meet the girls and get more details of the case. “Senior Omani officials will be visiting the United Kingdom soon to make entry for easier for Omanis,” he added. In an interview with BBC Arabic, the UK’s Parliament Member Alan Duncan described the kind of treatment meted out to the Omani girls as a “big mistake.” He asked for an emergency investigation into the case. He added that if the students have arrived and their visas are expired, the security authorities can deal with them in a different way, they can send them back to Holland, and this treatment is ‘unacceptable.’ Jon Wilks, British Ambassador to Oman, earlier apologised for the incident. “We are sorry for the distress that has been caused to the girls,” he added.

“We have asked the Home Office to establish, as a matter of urgency, what has happened and whether there are different measures that need to be taken in future.

“It was a technician problem and I agree that deportation is a right decision according to visa rules, but the detention was wrong”, Wilks added.

He stated: “I contacted the Home Office in London to avoid repeat of such cases as Omanis never get involved in terrorist cases or any economic problems”.

To a question whether this treatment is because of religion, the ambassador said “there is a tension, but I do not think it has anything to do with religion.” “London is considered as one of the Western cities open to Arab in investment. Next week I will be in London and I am going to meet the Omani ambassador there to discuss how to ease norms for Omanis in UK easier. After this incident, we are going to tell the British Border Security how to deal with Omanis particular and GCC citizens in general. Oman and the UK has a good and a historical relations and as an ambassador I want to develop this relations.”

The United Kingdom looks forward to develop the relations and since the Sultanate recently faces economic challenges, UK can be a main supporter in different ways, particularly we can benefit from our experience in the past and how we can avoid problems.

“On political relations, we are cooperating with Oman in different issues including Yemen.” He described Omani diplomacy as brilliant and Omanis know how to deal with international situations in a wise manner. “We would like to benefit from the Omani experience on how to solve problems in a peaceful way. Omanis are always solving problems in a peaceful way and we have to respect this amazing diplomacy. With the spread of terrorism in the region, we have to follow the Omani policy on how they solve this problem,” ambassador added. He added that Western countries can work together with the Sultanate of Oman in finding solution to various regional problems, and we appreciate Omani efforts in the Iranian nuclear case.


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