Dubai Calls Saudi Meat Ban Threat to Gulf Common Market
The Dubai municipality has criticized Saudi Arabia's decision to stop imports of meat from the UAE, saying it was based on "silly remarks" by Saudi officials, and warned that it could hurt efforts to create a common Gulf market.
Saudi Arabia banned re-exports of meat from the UAE in March and has since extended the ban to include exports from the UAE as well, according to the Gulf News on Sunday.
In a strongly-worded statement Saturday, the municipality criticized the way Saudi Arabia handled the issue, saying it had learned about the ban only by reading about it in the press.
"The Saudi decision to stop importing meat from the UAE was not based on any scientific facts, but silly remarks," Dubai officials said.
"It was only proper that the Saudi officials, who prepared a report which formed the basis for the decision, contact the concerned authorities in the UAE to inquire about the remarks mentioned in the report.
"In situations like this, official correspondence takes place between the parties involved such as the ministry of economy and commerce, as well as the competent authorities at the municipalities to understand the reality, particularly if the matter is related to public health.
"But authorities in the UAE have learnt of the Saudi ban only through the media - a very strange occurrence that may endanger the interests of traders and contradict efforts aimed at creating a common Gulf market," it warned.
A Saudi team visited livestock farms and slaughterhouses in the UAE from April 7 to 11 at the request of the Saudi ministry of commerce.
They also visited cattle and sheep farms and meat factories in Abu Dhabi, Al Ain, Dubai, Sharjah, Ajman and Fujairah, said the paper.
The group then returned to Saudi Arabia and issued a report saying some of the factories they visited were using meat from contaminated and infected sources.
The General Secretariat of UAE Municipalities dismissed the claim as baseless last Tuesday.
Secretary General Jassim Darwish said, "There is no scientific evidence for what was claimed in the report. We import the meat and poultry from almost the same countries which Saudi Arabia deals with, whether for local consumption or for export in the form of meat products."
Dubai municipality added the Saudi officials did not contact them about the report before issuing the ban.
"Dubai Municipality finds it very astonishing that the UAE authorities did not receive a copy of the report of the Saudi delegation that visited the country despite a lapse of several months after the technical delegation's visit," it said.
"This would have given the authorities here a chance to study the contents of the report and work towards finding an appropriate solution.
"On the contrary, the report, which was published in the media, upsets the authorities and belittles their efforts in the field of food monitoring and inspection - a process that is undertaken in line with state-of-the-art regulations and at advanced laboratories.
"Now, this has given birth to a new situation: while the meat produced in the UAE, particularly Dubai, is being exported to various countries of the world, it is not allowed in the Gulf markets despite the economic treaties signed by the GCC states!" said the upset and belittled municipality.
"It is very strange that the Saudi report has stated that some Dubai meat manufacturers have denied entry to a Saudi investigation team whereas the latter deny this."
The municipality said that it would welcome a visit by Saudi experts - or, for that matter, from any other country wishing to do so - in order to reaffirm that the local factories are complying with the quality, safety and health standards in line with international rules – Albawaba.com
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