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President Mohamed Muizu of the Maldives has banned Israelis from traveling to the Indian Ocean archipelago, one of the country’s most popular tourism destinations.

Citizens of the predominantly Muslim nation are growing outraged over the ongoing war in Gaza between Israel and Palestine. To show solidarity for Palestine, President Mohamed is reportedly in the process of creating legislation that will bar Israeli passport holders from entering the country. A committee will be established to conduct and oversee the process.

In 2023, nearly 11,000 Israelis visited Maldives, accounting for more than half of all tourists, AP noted.

As writer and global traveler Imani Bashir highlighted in an Instagram post published June 3, tourism brings big bucks to the Maldives annually. A report from the Maldives Monetary Authority noted that in 2023, the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) surged by 5.5% compared to the same period in 2022, marking a notable acceleration from the 1.8% growth observed in the fourth quarter of 2022.

Moreover, the annual real GDP for the first quarter of 2023 stood at 12.3% above pre-pandemic levels recorded in the first quarter of 2019. The outstanding growth was largely fueled by the strong performance of the tourism sector in the country.

As reported by the Press, the tourism industry in the Maldives raked in a substantial $835.6 million in revenue during the second quarter of 2022. Remarkably, the second quarter of 2023 witnessed an impressive surge with a $47.8 million increase, pulling in a total revenue of $883.4 million USD, equivalent to $13.62 billion MVR in local currency.

Bashir, a five-time expat and travel expert, gave props to President Mohamed for “standing on business” and showing support for Palestine. 

“The GDP is something that helps to measure the economic wealth of a country, so the fact that the Maldives is willing to take that hit is huge because ultimately what this shows is that other countries can also get behind this.”

She added, “I personally hope that Mexico and other big travel and tourist destinations like that will also ban Israeli passports, even if they have dual citizenship…I’m just saying the Maldives just moved up on my bucket list. “

President Mohamed also announced plans to designate a special envoy to evaluate Palestinian requirements and initiate a fundraising drive to help in their time of need. In response, Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, Oren Marmorstein, advised against travel to the Maldives for Israelis, including those with foreign passports and urged those already present to consider departure.

The Maldives isn’t the first country to show support for Palestine.

In February, South Africa called for Israel to be held accountable for the violence they have committed against Palestinian citizens living in Gaza while attempting to seize the area, PBS reported.  

During a hearing at the United Nations’ top court in the Netherlands, South African officials accused Israel of committing apartheid and called their actions “inherently and fundamentally illegal.” Per Reuters, Palestinian health officials say Israel’s ground and air attacks on Gaza have killed more than 35,000 civilians. 

Vusimuzi Madonsela, the Ambassador of the Republic of South Africa to the Kingdom of the Netherlands, told the panel, “South Africa bears a special obligation, both to its own people and the international community, to ensure that wherever the egregious and offensive practices of apartheid occur, these must be called out for what they are and brought to an immediate end.”

Palestinian officials recently submitted an application on behalf of the “State of Palestine” to the top U.N. court, seeking permission to join South Africa’s case accusing Israel of apartheid in Gaza.

 

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