Middle east

‘A Terrific Day:’ Israel Welcomes First-Ever UAE Ambassador

The UAE and Israel signed a normalization agreement on August 13, 2020, officially referred to as the Abraham Accords. As a result, the UAE became the third Arab country after Egypt in 1997 and Jordan in 1994 to formally formalize its relationship with Israel.

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Monday received the first-ever ambassador to Israel from the UAE, following the agreement between the countries last year to normalize relations, The Times of Israel reported.

According to the outlet, UAE envoy Mohamed Mahmoud Al Khajah arrived in Israel on Monday, and delivered his credentials to Rivlin during a ceremony in Jerusalem.

​“This is a moving ceremony for me, as president of Israel,” Rivlin said during the ceremony.

“We believed that if we waited patiently, the right time would come in which we would be able to take our ties a step forward. To deepen the friendship between us. To make it public,” Rivlin noted, adding that relations between Israel and the UAE have been developing for some time.

“Our countries have a shared ethos: a small country committed to turning arid land into a flourishing garden, against all the odds,” Rivlin continued, also calling Monday’s ceremony “a terrific day, in which the Emirati flag flies alongside the Israeli flag over the President’s Residence in Jerusalem.”

“Our two countries have the largest and most important economies in the region,” Al Khajah said. “I will make every effort to make these relations ever tighten, to close the gap between the two countries and their people,” he continued, noting that Israel and the UAE have “collaborated in fighting COVID-19,” he added.

Al Khajah will spend a few days in Israel, where he is expected to meet with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as other senior officials. 

Earlier Monday, Al Khajah met with Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who wished the new envoy success in his “historic mission.”

This is not the first instance of improved relations between Israel and the UAE.

In December 2020, the UAE Football Association signed a memorandum of understanding with the Israeli Football Association in Dubai to establish closer sporting ties. Diaa Saba also became the first Israeli in September 2020 to play in the UAE after joining Al-Nasr, the professional association football club located in Al Nasr, Dubai.

The UAE is not the only Arab country to normalize diplomatic relations with the Jewish state. Relations between Bahrain and Israel were also normalized in September 2020. In December 2020, Morocco also normalized ties with Israel, while Sudan normalized relations with the Jewish state on October 23, 2020. 

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