Emirati-Israeli friendships bloom in first year of Abraham Accords

Supplied photo
Supplied photo

Dubai - While some Emiratis started attending Shabbat dinners, Israelis got to experience Iftar.


James Jose

Published: Wed 15 Sep 2021, 10:29 PM

Last updated: Thu 16 Sep 2021, 10:19 AM

For many Emiratis and Israelis, the past year has been a ‘life-changing’ journey.

Wednesday marked the one-year anniversary of the signing of the landmark Abraham Accords. And since this milestone event happened, bilateral trade and cultural exchange flourished.

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Emirati Dr Majid Al Sarrah, who had visited Israel in December, said he made plenty of friends.

“If we were to highlight the significant events, I would say we started an organisation called Sharaka with our Israeli friends,” Al Sarrah told Khaleej Times.

“We have achieved a lot. Since the beginning of the Abraham Accords, we did several events, with lots of gatherings between Jews, Arabs and even non-Jews."

Learning about a new culture has been a game-changer, Al Sarrah said.

A lot of his newfound Israeli friends have also visited Dubai. “We have taken them to places to see what the UAE is like, how the culture is. And now, in the shopping malls and the streets, you will definitely keep hearing the Hebrew language, which was really uncommon back in the day,” Al Sarrah added.

Ariella Steinreich, senior vice-president of Steinreich Communications, said that during this past year, the communities have come together for occasions like Lag B’Omer and Iftar.

“As someone who has been working in the region — specifically in the UAE — for the past decade, it is very exciting to see the impact this past year has had both on the business and social spheres. I have had the chance to introduce many of my Emirati and Israeli friends and business associates,” said Steinreich.

The Abraham Accords have provided unprecedented business opportunities for all countries involved, she added.

UAE resident Emtiyaz Radman Saleh is now learning Hebrew when she finds time off work.

“We have a group and we hold Zoom meetings every month to learn about each other’s culture, each other’s language. We also have something called Abrahamic Tour where we actually go on virtual tours of each country,” she said.

Saleh got to visit Israel in June, when they filmed a programme called ‘Finding Abraham’. “A group of us from the UAE and Bahrain learnt a lot about their culture, the way they live, their language.”

She added: “The relationship, I think, will build bridges between the two countries and more opportunities. Some students have left the UAE to study in Israel. I think it is just the beginning of something big.”

For Israeli Nave Lev-Ram, the UAE is an amazing place. “I now have quite a few Emirati friends."


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