One year of Abraham Accords: Almost quarter million Israelis visit UAE

Rasha Abu Baker /Abu Dhabi Filed on August 12, 2021
Photo: Ryan Lim

Eitan Na'eh, Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Israel, explains that the people of both nations would find they have a lot in common.

Since the normalisation of relations, over 230,000 Israelis have visited the UAE, said Eitan Na'eh, Charge d'Affaires of the Embassy of Israel in the UAE.

"Israelis are very excited about the prospects of developing relationships with the UAE," and one indication of this is the fact that "almost a quarter of a million Israelis have already visited here and this is during Covid. Of course, we still have challenges, Covid is an immense challenge."

He explained that the more people from both sides interact with each other, the more they will find that they have more in common than they thought.

"By seeing each other, meeting each other, sitting in coffee houses in Abu Dhabi or Dubai, Ras al Khaimah, or Tel Aviv," is something that will certainly continue to affect the way that people from both countries view each other, he added.

Such visits in the future - Covid permitting - will help people from both sides relate and forge a better understanding.

"It will normalise the image of what Israel is and what the UAE is," explained Na'eh. "And through talking and relating to each other – not as Jews and Muslims, or as Israelis and Arabs or Emiratis, but as people to people with the same dreams and issues. We are learning how to communicate and to trust each other, to understand what we mean when we say or do something, to understand the different systems."

He went on: "We have different histories, but we are also a relatively new country, 73 years old versus almost 50. Still new in historical terms. We are still building a country, still moulding and shaping our political culture."

Na'eh accepted that given the history of relations, or more the lack of it, between Israel and the Arab world, many people from both sides will require some more time to build trust and transparency.

"What we are witnessing now after the official accords were declared is that we are planting seeds of relations between states, between state institutions, the private sectors, business people and the people of both nations," he explained. "This is what we are trying to do. We are still at the early stages. We are still learning everything that we can about how to do business together, learning about the potential of cooperation."

Rasha Abu Baker

Rasha Abu Baker is an Emirati journalist and editor. She is Associate Editor and Bureau Chief at Khaleej Times, Abu Dhabi and has a special enthusiasm for human-interest stories, feature-writing and profile interviews.

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