The Abraham Accords: Boon for Arabs in my city & country

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Fleur is the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem as well as Co-Founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council
Fleur is the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem as well as Co-Founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council

Published: Thu 28 Jan 2021, 3:53 PM

As an Israeli, it is very exciting for me to be part of creating a warm peace with our Arab neighbours. We have always craved peace and for the first time in our history, we see that the desire for peace is mutual. On the human level, we are all extremely excited to be in this era and given this opportunity to better our region. On a practical level, I believe we can look forward to exciting business relations that can bring enormous prosperity to both our people and turn our region into a superpower. As a representative of Jerusalem, I am even more excited at the potential for my city in general as a tourist and technological hub. Additionally, 40 per cent of Jerusalem's population is Arab. It's important to involve East Jerusalem Arabs in the Israel-Gulf normalisation process because they will benefit tremendously from it in many ways. East Jerusalem can be a natural bridge between Israel and the Gulf because of their common language and culture.

By Fleur Hassan-Nahoum

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There are a number of tangible benefits that I envision almost as soon as the skies open fully and Israel gets back to business as usual. The first and most immediate is tourism.

The recent peace agreements will trigger a significant boost in tourism for all countries. For the first time in Israel's history, I believe we are looking at the beginning of the era of Muslim pilgrims. Almost every religious Emirati I have met is excited to come to Jerusalem, now an easy flight away. They are excited to visit Al Aqsa and the Dome of the Rock, on Haram Al Sharif. The Arab population in Jerusalem is a very integral part of our travel, hospitality and logistics sector in the city. A new wave of Gulf tourism not only increases the numbers of tourists coming to the city but also makes the Arab population uniquely positioned to host and receive the new wave of Muslim pilgrims. It is common to see hotel owners, tour guides, drivers, and restaurateurs all from the Arab sector, all passionate and devoted to help tourists have the best experience. As the holder of the tourism portfolio for the city of Jerusalem, I am thrilled at the prospects of creating partnerships between tour operators, develop cultural exchanges and so much more for both the Hebrew and Arab speaking population of my city.

I envision East Jerusalem becoming the R&D "back office" to the Middle East as Jerusalem has the most diverse population in the country. The human capital in the city is multilingual and the Arab population is increasingly joining technological studies programmes. These young men and women engineers will be the backbone of the city>s future economic prosperity that will become a very organic platform for the relationship. The combination of the Arab culture, language and the Start-up Nation is a recipe for incredible growth for Jerusalem.

The Abraham Fund, announced by the US government in October, will dedicate $3 billion in private sector-led investment and development initiatives to promote regional economic cooperation. There is nothing better than business collaborations to foster a lasting peace. Through the UAE-Israel Business Council, we have been approached by of Arabs and Druze led businesses in high tech, engineering, digital innovations and start-up incubators wanting to be involved in this new, broader economic frame brought by the agreements.

In Jerusalem, our new project for building a high-tech park called Silicon Wadi in Wadi Al Joz will undoubtedly be a new boost for the city and its Arab population. It plans to host high tech companies and commerce in its 250,000 sq m neighbourhood. We're developing this ambitious project because we believe that investment in the infrastructure will mean quality employment for all and social mobility for the different and more traditional populations of the city.

Jerusalem has always been said to be a meeting point between East and the West, between past and future and between heaven and earth. The Abraham Accords afford us a new opportunity for synergy between the Gulf and Israel, Jew and Arab, traditional industries and future oriented ones. This is the purpose and the promise of the Accords.

Fleur is the Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem as well as Co-Founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council


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