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Saudi Arabia denies visa to Israeli delegates heading to UN tourism event

The delegation was comprised of residents of the Israeli-Circassian town of Kfar Kama

Illustrative - Circassians in traditional garb, in Kfar Kama (Photo: Public domain)

Saudi authorities denied visas to an Israeli delegation headed for a United Nations tourism event in Saudi Arabia, according to a Bloomberg report. 

The delegation was comprised of residents from the Israeli-Circassian town of Kfar Kama. The UN World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) invited the group to an event in the Saudi city of Al-'Ula after their town was put on an exclusive list of tourist destinations. 

The Israeli delegation was initially concerned when it discovered its members did not receive their visas in the beginning of March.

Despite appeals by UN officials to provide the members of the delegation with visas, the Saudi authorities refused.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry is currently in contact with the UN World Tourism Organization and has insisted that the delegation must receive its visas.

The UNWTO selected Kfar Kama last year for inclusion in its prestigious list of recommended tourist villages to visit. 

Kfar Kama, located in Lower Galilee in northern Israel, was founded more than 150 years ago by Sunni-Muslim Circassians, whose origins can be traced to the northwestern Caucasus mountains, where they have lived for thousands of years. 

In the 19th century, the Caucasus was occupied by the Russian Empire and more than 1 million Circassians were murdered. The rest of the population was deported from their homeland and became refugees. 

The nearby Ottoman Empire absorbed the Circassian refugees, encouraging them to settle in parts of its territory, including Israel.

The All Israel News Staff is a team of journalists in Israel.

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