• Sun. Sep 25th, 2022

Israel experienced new record in tourists from Muslim countries in 2018

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A record number of visitors from Muslim countries came to Israel last year, including almost 55,000 from countries without diplomatic relations with Jerusalem, writes Time of Israel.

According to figures from the Population and Immigration Authority on Monday, 72,109 Egyptian and Jordanian citizens visited Israel (Egypt and Jordan are the only Arab countries with which Israel has full diplomatic relations). Other tourists came from Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Qatar, Malaysia, Indonesia, the United Arab Emirates, Oman, Kuwait and Saudi Arabia.

The figures show an increase of 15 percent from the previous year, when 62,658 tourists from the aforementioned countries traveled to the Jewish state.

Data from other Muslim countries were not available.

In 2018, 12,336 Jordanians and 4,947 Egyptians came to Israel along with 54,799 citizens from the remaining countries without formal ties to Israel.

37,555 Indonesians visited Israel last year, marking a five percent increase from 2017.

In October, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, was “very important” to Israel, writes the Times of Israel.

Two months later, the Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem expressed its “deepest sympathy” to the victims of the devastating tsunami that killed 280 people in Indonesia, writes the Times of Israel.

It is surprising that the second largest contribution of tourists from countries without ties to Israel is Malaysia. Malaysia does not have an Arab Muslim majority, but they made headlines earlier this year after banning Israeli participation in the Paralympic swimming tournament.

After Israel called Malaysia’s decision “shameful”, Malaysia lost the right to host the competition. Still, Malaysia decided to stand by their decision as they would not compromise “for the sake of humanity and in compassion for the Palestinian situation”, the Times of Israel adds.

Nearly 14,000 Malaysian citizens came to Israel in 2018, which is 4,000 more than the year before.

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Going side by side – Muslim woman and Jewish man walking side by side on street in Jerusalem. (Photo: Monica Boston. Flickr.com)

The number of tourists from Arab countries who visited Israel is significantly lower. Only 2,108 Moroccans, 949 Tunisians, 81 from Qatar, 56 from Oman, 36 Algerians, 34 Kuwaitis, 25 from the Emirates and six Saudis traveled to the Jewish state last year.

While the number of visitors from Qatar has increased significantly from previous years – in 2017 there were only 15, the number from Saudi Arabia has decreased from 11 in 2017.

When tourists from Muslim countries without diplomatic ties enter Israel, most of them are expected to visit the country’s religious sites. Tourists can ask officials and immigration authorities not to stamp their passports so they avoid reprisals when they return home. Instead, Israeli officials stamp a separate piece of paper that visitors can throw out when they leave the country.

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