Omani and Kuwaiti companies quit Bahrain airshow with Israeli participation

Omani and Kuwaiti companies quit Bahrain airshow with Israeli participation
Two companies - one Kuwaiti, the other Omani - pulled out of the Bahrain International Airshow amid campaigns against normalisation with Israel piled on the pressure.
3 min read
10 November, 2022
Oman's Salam Air was one of the companies to pull out from the air show [Getty/archive]

Omani and Kuwaiti firms have withdrawn from an air show taking place in Bahrain featuring Israeli companies, amid calls from activists to pull out of the event.

Oman’s Salam Air withdrew from the Bahrain International Airshow, taking place between 9-11 November, while the Kuwait Finance House removed its logo from the exhibition's list of sponsors, according to local media.

Salam Air denied its withdrawal was due to calls for a boycott of the airshow due to Israeli participation.

"SalamAir was not able to participate with a display aircraft in the Bahrain International Airshow this year due to operational reasons, new destination launches, maintenance requirements and aircraft delivery reschedule," the airliner told The New Arab.

Kuwait Finance House did not respond to The New Arab's request for comment.

Pro-Palestine groups in the Gulf have campaigned against any normalisation of ties with Israel, following Bahrain and the UAE's establishment of ties with the country.

Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait still have no ties with Israel, and nationals in these countries are opposed to closer relations.

"Salam Air. We know that you do not know this information. [But] with your participation in the Bahrain International Airshow, you will stand by the representatives of the Zionist military companies," the Omanis Against Normalisation group wrote on Twitter last month.

"So out of respect for the blood of Muslims and us and the will of the Sultan [of Oman], who said the Arabs should not be betrayed, we ask you to withdraw."

Another group called the Gulf Coalition Against Normalisation thanked the Kuwait Finance House for removing itself from the list of event sponsors.

Bahrain was one of four Arab states to normalise ties with Israel in 2020 through the highly controversial, US-brokered Abraham Accords. The two countries have already signed numerous deals for cooperation, including in the military sector.

There has been strong speculation in recent years that Oman may also establish relations with Israel. In October 2018, then-Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu – who has won a new term in office – made a rare visit to the Sultanate.

Oman still maintains an Arab boycott of Israel until an independent Palestinian state is established.

Kuwait also remains solid in its stance against the normalisation of relations with Israel.

In May 2021, the Kuwaiti parliament passed a bill banning Kuwaiti nationals and expatriates from visiting Israel. The new law also outlawed expressions of sympathy for Israel.