A senior delegation from the United Arab Emirates arrived Oct. 20 in Tel Aviv and signed a series of agreements with Israeli counterparts. It was the first official delegation from the Emirates to land in Israel as bilateral relations intensify. The delegation was led by Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq al-Mari and Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid al-Tayer.
Israel’s Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi tweeted upon their arrival at Ben Gurion airport, “The delegation from the United Arab Emirates has landed in Israel! I welcome this historic day and the number of agreements between Israel and the UAE that we will sign later today. This is an exciting day. A day that symbolizes the beginning of a new era and countless opportunities that will benefit both of our peoples.”
Israel and the Emirates signed four agreements. The most significant one is a visa-waiver treaty that will enable Israelis to travel to the Emirates without obtaining a visa before departure. It is the first agreement of its kind between Israel and an Arab state. The two countries also signed agreements on protecting investments, science and technological cooperation as well as regular flights between the countries.
Speaking at the welcoming ceremony at the airport, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said, “We are making history in a way that will stand for generations. This meeting shows the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful, normal relations. Ultimately it will be so much better working together as friends.”
US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin represented the Trump administration at the ceremony, stating, “The Abraham Accords established direct economic ties between two of the Middle East’s most thriving and advanced economies. These ties create a tremendous foundation for economic growth, opportunity, innovation and prosperity.”
Minister of State al-Tayer hailed an “informative and productive visit to deepen the bilateral understanding and capitalizing on both countries’ leadership and great opportunities ahead of us.”
In addition to the agreements, the United States, Israel and the UAE announced the creation of a joint regional development fund called the Abraham Fund, after the Abraham Accords signed on Oct. 15 at the White House between Israel, the United States, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain. The new fund, to be based in Jerusalem with a starting investment of $3 billion, is intended to promote economic cooperation and prosperity in the Middle East and North Africa.
After the ceremony, Ashkenazi hosted a lunch in honor of the Emirates delegation, during which a letter from Emirati Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan was presented to his Israeli counterpart. In the letter, Al Nahyan requested permission to open an embassy in Israel and expressed hope that Israel will do the same in Abu Dhabi.