The United Arab Emirates became the first Gulf state to open an embassy in Israel on Wednesday, in an historic move that has been welcomed by business leaders across the two Middle East nations.
The UAE and Bahrain normalized relations with Israel last year under the Abraham Accords, crafted by the administration of then-US President Donald Trump.
On Wednesday, the UAE officially opened its embassy in Tel Aviv in a flag-raising ceremony also attended by Israel’s president, as its envoy hailed the trade and investment opportunities that closer ties.
“Since the normalization of ties ...we have seen for the first time discussions on trade and investment opportunities,” UAE ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja said, after raising his country’s flag outside the building.
“We signed major agreements across various fields, including economy, air travel, technology and culture.”
Israeli President Isaac Herzog called the opening of the embassy “an important milestone in our journey towards the future, peace prosperity and security” for the Middle East.
“Seeing the Emirati flag flying proudly in Tel Aviv might have seemed like a far-fetched dream about a year ago,” he said. “In many ways nothing could be more natural and normal.”
Last month Israel’s new foreign minister Yair Lapid also inaugurated its embassy in the UAE during a two-day trip to the country.
The move has been welcomed by prominent business officials across the two nations.
Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, said: “It is extremely exciting to see that less than a year since the announcement of the historic Abraham Accords, today a UAE embassy is opening in Israel. The embassy will give expression and structure to the warm ties being built by ordinary Israelis and Emiratis every day.”
Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, also hailed the move as “an important milestone in the development of economic ties between the countries.”
“Beyond its symbolic importance as an outpost of the UAE here in Tel Aviv, embassies are critical to bilateral trade as they assist with document authentication, regulatory submissions and other administrative matters that underpin international trade. For businesspeople this is must-have for commercial ties to thrive.”