- The UAE is the first Arab country in the Persian Gulf to begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel.
- "There is no doubt that the normalization between Israel and the UAE will bring good things and benefit to the Arabs inside Israel."
- The arrival of Israeli tourists in Dubai is also a sign of the UAE's efforts to revitalize its tourism industry.
For the first time, a Boeing 737 Emirates FlyDubai plane transported an Israeli tourist group to Dubai Airport on Sunday. The flight is another step towards normalizing relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. According to the Associated Press, the plane flew between Bangorion Airport in Tel Aviv and Dubai Airport in about three hours.
The plane also crossed the skies of Saudi Arabia. The UAE is the first Arab country in the Persian Gulf to begin the process of normalizing relations with Israel and establish diplomatic relations.
The process came through the mediation of the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump.
The agreement was announced on August 13, after President Trump had a telephone conversation with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed.
“There is no doubt that the normalization between Israel and the UAE will bring good things and benefit to the Arabs inside Israel. There is no doubt about that,” said Hussein Suleiman, the head of an Arab businessmen’s delegation on board the flight. “We are supportive of this deal and of the normalization, and we are here today to normalize the normalization in reality.”
Less than three weeks after the announcement, an El Al airliner with a high-level Israeli-American delegation landed at Abu Dhabi International Airport after crossing the skies over Saudi Arabia. Two days later, Saudi Arabia formally agreed to allow Israeli passenger planes to pass through its airspace by issuing an unnamed statement.
The Saudi statement stressed that passenger planes of “all countries” were allowed to pass through Saudi airspace on their way back and forth to the UAE, without any restrictions. Images have surfaced in cyberspace that appear to show two FlyDubai planes at Ben-Gurion Airport, one of which took Israeli tourists to Dubai.
Visa-Free Tourist Exchange
The arrival of Israeli tourists in Dubai is also a sign of the UAE’s efforts to revitalize its tourism industry, which has been plagued by the Coronavirus pandemic.
An agreement on the exchange of tourists without the need for a visa is one of the agreements reached during the visit of a high-ranking Emirati delegation to Israel in late October. The two sides also agreed that commercial flights between the two countries will be regular.
The UAE has recently lifted some restrictions and prohibitions, especially in the area of individual and social freedoms, by amending some laws that are influenced by Islamic teachings. Under the amendments, the consumption of alcohol, which was previously banned in some places, was lifted, and the ban on cohabitation without marriage was lifted.
It comes when Israel and the UAE, who had held clandestine ties for years, took their political partnership out into the open. It concluded a normalization agreement with Israel, alongside Bahrain, at a White House ceremony in September. The two states became the third and fourth Arab nations to officially make peace with Israel.
Although Egypt and Jordan earlier concluded peace agreements, the UAE has said it anticipates seeing a “warm” peace with Israel. The Emirates also hopes the agreement with help its attempts to buy advanced F-35 fighter jets from the U.S. The agreements also bind three nations that are wary of Iran.