A marathon not a sprint

Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates describes Israel-UAE relations

By Amir Hayek

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Published: Thu 18 Nov 2021, 12:00 AM

The signing of the Abraham Accords was a historic moment for the Middle East that marked the beginning of an entirely new chapter in the story of our region.

It represents a much larger statement coming from the region. A statement that says now is the time to start building a better future together. A future that will benefit all of our peoples and the next generations.

Reflecting over this past year, we should be extremely proud of all we have accomplished together so far.

Ranging from inaugurating direct flights between Israel and the UAE, to signing agreements, opening Embassies, Ministerial visits and high-level business delegations, business deals, academic cooperation and so much more. We have also seen more than 250,000 Israelis visiting the UAE since the signing of the Abraham Accords, connecting our nations like never before.

That being said, we should always aim for greater and better results and push for higher goals each year.

Building long-term paths

As Israel’s first Ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, I see my mission as one of great importance, to help establish the foundations and build the infrastructure between both countries for the long term.

This is a marathon, not a sprint. The model that our leaders have laid out for us, is one of cooperation and joint effort, where the whole is greater than the sum of the parts. For the relationship between Israel and the UAE to continue to deepen and expand, we need people to know each other and to respect each other’s cultures.

We also need to identify the main sectors for collaboration, set clear goals ahead of us and measure them.

Areas vital to the region such as water, food security, energy and environment, health, space, agrotech, fintech, cyber and others. We as governments need to build the infrastructure and the ecosystem in order to enable the private sector to succeed. For all of the above and many other areas, we have already seen various agreements between Israel and the UAE signed and implemented, and many more are in progress.

One of these agreements is the Free Trade Agreement (CEPA), which is of high importance for improving trade conditions and both governments are working hand in hand to accomplish this goal in the next few months.

It is important to understand we are not just focusing on large companies. Those are intracule to the stability of the relationship. However, we must create the right conditions, which will allow small and medium size businesses to succeed as well, so that everyone can enjoy the fruits of peace.

Finally, yet importantly, I recently had the honour to visit Expo 2020, which is a big win for the UAE. I invite all of you to visit the Israeli pavilion and experience more of Israel. I have no doubt that you will get inspired with new ideas for collaboration.

This journey we embarked upon together a year ago, along with our friends in Bahrain and Morocco, offers many incredible opportunities and holds us to the highest standard of responsibility.

We are committed to a better region and a better future for our children and our peoples. We are only just starting this marathon.

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