Dear President Isaac Herzog,
Welcome to the UAE. As the co-founder of the UAE- Israel Business Council and the Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum it is a proud moment to see you here to bolster the relationship between our two countries. The Abraham Accords marked a historic moment and elevated Israel to a regional status as a friend and neighbour of the GCC countries. Your presence here is a symbol of hope and optimism for the entire region.
Since the Accords were signed nearly two years ago, the Emirati and Israeli governments have worked together as partners to provide economic and cultural opportunities for both nations. The UAE-Israel Business Council predicts that bilateral trade in goods and services between our two countries will be US$2 billion in 2022 and there are already official talks of a free trade agreement. New economic opportunities continue to grow every day and last week both governments declared a joint investment fund that will significantly advance meaningful ventures between Israel and the UAE.
This peace and normalisation is unlike any other we have known with our neighbors in this region, as this relationship is being championed and nurtured by ordinary people. Since the outset and even through a global pandemic, Israelis have rushed to the UAE to experience the warm weather, warm people and warm peace. Almost 300,000 Israelis have travelled to the UAE since the Accords, and we hope that after the pandemic is over and Israel fully opens to international travel we will usher in a new era of Muslim pilgrims visiting our city.
The Abraham Accords have not only created important economic opportunities; they have also created meaningful cultural ties between two neighbors. Over the last two years, we have worked together to learn and understand each other’s cultures. Whether it be in music, sports, art, education and science, we have seen hundreds of cultural exchanges and events bringing together Israelis and Emiratis. The Abraham Accords have changed a paradigm and granted the gift to both Jews and Muslims of relating to each other as cousins again and we pray that this will bring us closer together in our own country and the wider region, a cause you have always spent your life advancing.
Mr President, we wish you all the best and we are certain you will be impressed and inspired throughout your trip.
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum is the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the UAE Israel Business Council and the Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum.
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