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UAE Group Launches "Boycott U.S." Campaign

4 May 2002,
IslamOnline & News Agencies

A UAE group Saturday launched a campaign to convince residents of the United Arab Emirates to boycott U.S. firms that extend economic and financial support to Israel, organizers said.

The campaign organized by the national committee for the boycott of U.S. products is "open-ended," said committee president Aisha al-Nuaimi, also a board member of the UAE Journalists Association.

The effort is being coordinated with several NGOs in the UAE as well as with boycott outfits in other Gulf countries, chiefly a Bahraini association that lobbies against the normalization of ties with Israel, she told AFP.

"The campaign aims first of all at changing consumers' habits," said Nuaimi, adding that organizers were drawing up a list of U.S. firms and products that should be shunned.

"The campaign will also feature activities geared toward the targeted segment of the public, such as conferences, documentaries and exhibitions," she said.

The UAE has raised more than 86 million dollars for the Palestinians in two telethons and will play a leading role in the reconstruction of the Jenin refugee camp, destroyed during Israel's military offensive on the West Bank that began March 29.

The Emirati Red Crescent Society has also established an air bridge to fly medicines and other pharmaceutical products to Jordan for transportation to the Palestinian territories.

The National UAE Committee For Boycotting U.S. products called for the recognition of May 11th as an international day for boycotting all U.S. products.

Al Nuaimi said that the campaign aims to support the Palestinian cause and raise awareness in the UAE community. She said that there would be coordination with the Israeli boycott office affiliated to the Arab League and with other boycott activities taking place in Arab countries.

She refuted claims that the boycott will be ineffective in the UAE because of the number of foreigners residing there, adding that many businessmen who represent U.S. companies have been trying to doubt the effectiveness of the boycott to prevent people from joining the campaign.

But, she said, there has been a spontaneous response to the boycott that spread through various sectors of the community, especially in the light of having several European and Asian alternatives in the UAE market.

Meanwhile, the committee in co-ordination with the UAE Journalist association is organizing on May 13 and 14 the first boycotting conference, in which several national Arab committees from Yemen, Bahrain, Qatar, Lebanon, Syrian, Egypt, Kuwait and Jordan will participate.

The conference will discuss the several issues related to the boycott in legal, media, political and economic perspectives.

The Committee will also organize other activities to support the Palestinian intifada including a gallery in which UAE artist will contribute their work in coordination with the Cultural department in the UAE emirate of Sharjah.

The committee was formed on April 11th, after a sit-in was organized by the Dubai Press Club. It now includes 350 members who represent various sectors from civil and social organization as well doctors, engineers, media persons and academics.

Earlier in April, A U.S. report announced that the popular Arab campaign for boycotting American products have resulted in losses for U.S. companies reaching to 40 per cent during the last two months.

The report, issued by the U.S. National council for U.S.-Arab relations, said that stores selling American consumer products such as cars, drinks and foodstuff in the Gulf have lost nearly 40 per cent of their customers because of the campaigns, which were a direct result for the Unites state’s governments support for Israel and its obvious silence regarding the Israeli atrocities in the Palestinian territories.

The report, which was prepared by John Anthony, the council’s president, said that the campaigns were successful because of the religious sermons and civil student organizations, which asked the people to boycott American products and distributed lists that included the names of these products through the internet and through Short Messages on the cellular phones.

Meanwhile, the report said that U.S. campaigns, which claimed that the boycott would harm Arabs especially those with franchise rights in the Gulf, have failed, adding that American businessmen themselves feel that these campaigns are wrong and misleading and only aim to lessen the negative effects of the boycott campaigns.

The businessmen also said that the American policy makers have ignored the harm that will affect the image of U.S. products in addition to children who will grow up in schools that teach them that consuming American products is wrong and goes against the teachings of Islam.

Meanwhile, UAE nationals have asked for an end to the American presence in the Gulf and the reduction of all Gulf-American military cooperation deals.

Most UAE nationals interviewed by IslamOnline agreed that eliminating the presence of U.S. forces on Gulf land is difficult, but reducing the military deals will add legitimacy to Gulf governments and will earn them the respect of Arabs.

With Additional Reporting By Reda Hammad, IOL UAE correspondent