Israel, UAE agree on visa-free travel for nationals: Netanyahu

Anjana Sankar /Tel Aviv Filed on October 21, 2020 | Last updated on October 21, 2020 at 06.28 am
uae visa, israel, trump, netanyahu, visa free travel

(KT file)

The visa exemption was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the first-ever official UAE delegation landed in Israel on Tuesday.

The UAE and Israel have agreed to allow visa-free travel for their citizens, and also to establish a $3 billion Abraham Fund to promote economic cooperation and development in the Middle East.

The visa exemption was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after the first-ever official UAE delegation landed in Israel on Tuesday.

"Today, we are making history in a way that will stand for generations," said Netanyahu, addressing the delegation at Ben Gurian Airport in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu is hosting a trilateral summit meeting with the participation of US Secretary of the Treasury Steven Menuchen and UAE Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al Tayer and the UAE Minister of Economy Abdulla bin Touq Al Marri.

The UAE and Israel agreed to normalise ties in August and a US-brokered Abraham Accord was signed on September 15 at the White House, opening a new era in the Arab-Jewish relations. The UAE is the first GCC country and the third Arab nation to normalise ties with Israel. Cabinets of both the countries have ratified the deal.

Obaid Al Tayer, who led the UAE delegation, signed four agreements on behalf of the UAE, namely an agreement on the Promotion and Protection of Investments, an MOU on Mutual Economic Cooperation, an agreement on the Declaration of Intent on Establishing Cooperation in the Area of Financial Services, and an MOU on Cooperation in the fields of Improvement and Development of Science and Advanced Technology. These agreements were signed with Israeli Minister of Finance Israel Katz.

"I express my gratitude and appreciation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for hosting and welcoming the UAE delegation here in Tel Aviv. The historic peace treaty signed was the first step taken towards achieving security and stability in the region, and a means to provide more opportunities for future generations," said Al Tayer.

"We are committed to supporting a legal framework for the movement of people and goods between the UAE and the state of Israel," he said.

Israel and the UAE are also expected to sign a deal allowing 28 weekly commercial flights between Israel's Ben Gurion Airport, Dubai and Abu Dhabi, Israel's Transportation Ministry said on Sunday.

The UAE, the US and Israel also announced the establishment of the Abraham Fund, which fulfils a commitment made in the Abraham Accord.

Through this fund, the UAE, the US International Development Finance Corporation, and Israel will mobilise more than $3 billion in private sector-led investment and development initiatives to promote regional economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East and beyond.

The countries will trilaterally open a development office based in Israel to identify and initiate strategic projects with a high developmental impact, including those that catalyse economic growth, improve standards of living, and create high-value, quality jobs.

The fund will enable its members to launch people-focused investments, providing opportunity and hope for the region and its youth by enabling them to build a future that serves them and their communities. The UAE, the US, and Israel believe that this initiative will create the foundation for stronger regional cooperation based on diversity, exchange, and shared humanity.

The Abraham Fund will bolster regional trade, enable strategic infrastructure projects, and increase energy security through the provision of reliable and affordable access to electricity. The fund also aims to improve agricultural productivity and facilitate reliable and efficient access to clean water in the region.

Ahmed Ali Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State, stated that the fund "reflects the desire of the three countries to put the wellbeing of people first, regardless of their creed or identity". He added that the UAE "is confident the initiative can be a source of economic and technological strength for the region, while simultaneously improving the lives of those who need the most support".

"The Abraham Fund we are launching today will be an essential tool in the realisation of the vision of our leaders to enhance regional cooperation," said Ronen Peretz, Director-General of the Israeli Prime Minister's Office.

"It will support the ingenuity of our entrepreneurs, it will produce the necessary menu of financial tools and it will provide the facilitation of our governments. The combination of business, finance, and government is essential in the creation of projects on the ground." 



Anjana Sankar

Anjana Sankar is a UAE-based journalist chasing global stories of conflict, migration and human rights. She has reported from the frontlines of the wars in Yemen and Syria and has extensively written on the refugee crisis in Bangladesh, Iraq and Europe. From interviewing Daesh militants to embedding with the UAE army in Yemen, and covering earthquakes, floods, terrorist attacks and elections, she has come out scathe-free from the most dangerous conflict zones of the world. Riding on over 14 years of experience, Anjana currently is an Assistant Editor with Khaleej Times and leads the reporting team. She often speaks about women empowerment on her Facebook page that has 40,000 plus followers.

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