Abraham Accords: UAE student and Israeli family forge lifelong friendship

August 11, 2021

By Ramola Talwar Badam

An Emirati student said peace and building genuine relationships are part of his goals while studying in Israel.Mansoor Al Marzooqi became the first student from the UAE to join an Israeli college this year and said he had gained both knowledge and friendship.

“The most important factor in achieving peace is people-to-people connections,” the 19-year-old said. “It’s about brotherhood between one culture and another. To achieve peace, there must be family relationships between people.”

The Emirati is back home in the UAE after completing a term at IDC Herzliya and will return to Israel in September to continue studies in political science.

“I focused a lot on doing well in the exams because I have a goal to work hard for the name of my country,” he said. The course has been challenging, he said, as it covers history, philosophy and communication.

The UAE student has also met officials and been invited into the homes of students.The UAE, Bahrain and Israel signed the Abraham Accords last year in Washington. This was followed by Morocco and Sudan agreeing to normalise ties with Israel. The Accords have opened up co-operation in trade, investment, health and tourism.

“We are enjoying the fruit of the hard work done by the government. This harvest will benefit the country and ourselves,” Mr Al Marzooqi said.

“I have been invited for Shabbat dinners and joined in cultural activities. I’m not the last (Emirati) student, there will be more coming to Israel.”

His family has a close bond with entrepreneur Patrick Assuline after they watched over the Israeli when he was seriously ill with Covid-19 during a business trip to the Emirates earlier this year.

“After my really bad experience of Covid, my wish is to share my time with others and to be helpful to populations of both countries,” Mr Assuline said from Tel Aviv. “Mansoor’s family is my family. I consider I was reborn in Dubai.”

Mr Assuline hopes to welcome more students from the UAE, Morocco and Bahrain to Israel in the next academic year and build a team of student ambassadors. “It is my personal decision to be involved," he said. "We are grateful to the governments but now it is people who will build peace and create prosperity. “Intellectual and cultural exchanges touch people. This stays deep in the mind of people.” A year after the Abraham Accords were signed, he is optimistic about the future. “I feel we are living in a magical and historical moment,” Mr Assuline said.

“What is important is for the young leaders of tomorrow to be friends. Mansoor has opened the door and history will remember it.

“It is needed for students to understand Israel and that they are warmly welcome here so they know Israel is a friend and brother."


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