Last month, I was fortunate enough to visit the United Arab Emirates (UAE), spending 5 days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi ,on a fact-finding trip for future Detroit Federation missions. I believed that reading up on the Abraham Accords, watching travel YouTubes, reading blogs and articles would prepare me, but the UAE is a cultural and cosmopolitan wonderland that demands a personal immersion. Like most of my fellow Israelis, I am celebrating the newly found normalization agreement with the UAE and Bahrain as a result of the Abraham Accords, signed in September 2020.
The UAE is made up of seven territories ruled by dynastic Arab monarchs (emirs). Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital, are the most populous and the most visited. Only 10% of the country’s population of 9.7 million are Emiratis. The remaining 90% are foreign workers with resident status from Egypt, Pakistan, India and the Philippines, in addition to a significant affluent business community from the U.S. and Europe. Prior to the discovery of oil in the 1950s, the UAE’s principal industries were pearl harvesting and fishing. Today, its economy, the most competitive in the Arab world, is on par with Western European countries.
There is a buzz in the UAE regarding the new relationship in Israel, with trade expected to boom. There is currently a taxation treaty currently under development that could transform the UAE into one of Israel’s leading trade partners, with an estimated $6.5 billion worth of trade within a decade.
A highlight of the visit was being hosted at the site of the upcoming World Expo in Dubai. Still called Expo 2020, despite its deferral due to COVID -19, it will open in October 2021 to host over 190 countries in an environmentally sustainable city created especially for the event. It will focus on the themes of Opportunity, Mobility and Sustainability. The impressive Israeli pavilion, titled ‘Towards Tomorrow,’ is symbolically devoid of walls in the exhibition hall. It will showcase technology and innovations in water, health, information, and hi-tech.
Thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE are off to an exciting partnership with tremendous potential for friendship and cooperation.