Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, the founder and chairman of Al Habtoor Group, a Dubai-based conglomerate, said in a video message on X social media platform that he had arranged everything for the female students, including university admissions, accommodation, transport, and security. However, he said that the Taliban authorities refused to let them board a plane that he had paid for at Kabul airport on Wednesday morning.
I am unable to express the disappointment I feel now as The Afghan female students, whom I had provided an educational scholarship in collaboration with the @uniofdubai presented by Dr. Eesa Al Bastaki @ebastaki, were unfortunately unable to reach #DubaiAirport this morning to… pic.twitter.com/gJK9dB2yTf
— Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor (@KhalafAlHabtoor) August 23, 2023
“This stands as a profound tragedy, a blow against the principles of humanity, education, equality, and justice,” Al Habtoor said. He also urged all involved parties to intervene and help rescue the students.
One of the students, who did not reveal her identity, said in an audio message that she had been accompanied by a male chaperone, but the airport officials stopped her and others from flying to Dubai.
The Taliban have imposed severe restrictions on women’s rights and education since they seized power in Afghanistan in August 2021. They have banned girls from attending schools beyond the sixth grade and closed universities and high schools to female students.
Al Habtoor had offered scholarships to 100 Afghan women in December 2021, after the Taliban announced their decision to bar women from universities. He said that he wanted to help them continue their education and achieve their dreams.
The UAE has been one of the countries that have provided humanitarian assistance and evacuation flights to Afghans after the Taliban takeover. It has also hosted several rounds of talks between the Taliban and other Afghan factions to facilitate a peaceful transition .