Next stop: Making UAE-Israel relations extraordinary

October 27, 2021

By Isaac Herzog

Together, Israel and the UAE can prove to the whole Middle East that peace pays off

The Abraham Accords normalised relations between Israel and the UAE. But normalisation is just the beginning. One year on, our job is to make those relations extraordinary.

It has always made sense for the Middle East’s two most dynamic, innovative and forward-thinking economies to collaborate. But as President of the State of Israel, I believe that Israel and the UAE can do so much more than collaborate: we can form a genuine partnership, one that will transform the Middle East for the better over this challenging century.

What is a genuine partnership? It means that Israel and the UAE must be truly invested in each other’s success, united in the belief that our work together can unleash unlimited good for our peoples and the whole region.

Together, Israel and the UAE can prove to the whole Middle East that peace pays off. Our region is full of people who quietly realise that it is time for normal relations with Israel. I believe that the success of our partnership will inspire and embolden them to speak up and make peace.

But more than that, Israel and the UAE have a genuine opportunity to spearhead change in this troubled region, by leading by the power of example. Together, we can lead innovative efforts to address environmental, water, and sustainability challenges, for the benefit of our whole region.

I salute the courageous decision of the leaders of the UAE to embark on this path. If their wisdom inspires others to follow suit, that will be extraordinary.

The possibilities are endless. The UAE recently announced that it aims to boost trade with Israel to more than $1 trillion in the next decade. Some might doubt our potential, but the same skeptics would have laughed at the idea that sand dunes on the Mediterranean and Persian Gulf might become the metropolises of Tel Aviv and Dubai.

Israel is often dubbed the Start-Up Nation, but it is already the headquarters of the most powerful companies of tomorrow. Israel is home to around 70 unicorns, private companies worth over $1 billion. Israeli-founded companies are reaching this status at a faster and faster pace.

In the first half of this year alone, Israel produced 24 new unicorns — twice the number announced in the whole of China, second only to the United States. This makes Israel an attractive place for investors with a keen eye, who want to be part of shaping the global, technological economy of tomorrow.

We are only just beginning. The launch of visa-free travel between Israel and the UAE on October 10 will open the floodgates for Israelis and Emiratis to visit each other’s countries, tour their sites, taste their food, meet their people. I believe that there is no replacement for a personal touch, open dialogue, and respectful engagement to create life-changing relationships and opportunities.

I invite the Emirati people to come and discover the Land of Israel and discover fresh opportunities to work with dynamic, inventive Israelis on finding innovative solutions in the fields of cybersecurity, agricultural technology, food sustainability, water, environment, and medical tech.

Earlier this year, I was delighted to join the historic inauguration of the UAE Embassy in Tel Aviv with Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja, and last month, I received the credentials of the new ambassador of your close neighbour, Bahrain. I am excited for them as they discover a new world of possibility, and I know Israel’s diplomats in the Gulf are just as excited to encounter the vision, creativity, and pioneering spirit of the Emirati people.

The whole region is watching us, waiting to see what this long-overdue experiment in Israeli-Arab ties will bring. I hope and believe that other states will soon emulate the UAE’s brave decision to establish relations with Israel, inspired by the undeniable good this partnership will produce. I trust that history will judge Israel-UAE normalisation not only as a tremendous achievement — but as the start of something truly extraordinary.

Isaac Herzog is the 11th President of the State of Israel

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