Amir Hayek
Tourism is one of the most important tools in bilateral relations as it strengthens people-to-people ties, Hayek says. Image Credit: WAM

Abu Dhabi: The UAE and Israel are celebrating the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords signed in September 2020, which established diplomatic relations between the two countries, on the backdrop of a host of bilateral deals, high-level visits and increasing trade and tourism, according to a top Israeli diplomat.

“I arrived here 10 and half months ago (as the first Israeli Ambassador to the UAE) and (since then) we had two visits of our President, two visits of our Prime Minister, around 20 visits of our ministers to the UAE. We signed 20 agreements, including the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA),” Amir Hayek, who took charge as the envoy in October 2021, said.

450,000 Israeli tourists visit UAE

“We are seeing great results. We can be proud of the results in trade, tourism, and investments; and we are just at the beginning,” he said at the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi.

Revealing that an estimated 450,000 Israeli tourists visited the UAE during the past two years, Hayek asserted that tourism is one of the most important tools in bilateral relations as it strengthens people-to-people ties.

“We are talking about G to G (government-to-government) and B-to-B (business-to-business) links. We need to concentrate on P-to-P (people-to-people) ties that will bring the most important ingredients of the relations,” the ambassador said.

New relation as a marathon

Describing the Israel-UAE interactions as a marathon, the diplomat said: “I think that it is like a baby, already two years old, and he can speak three languages and run a marathon. I will say it again and again, this is a marathon. It is not a 200-metre sprint. We came to build solid ground, solid relations, bring results and we have to be very, very successful.”

Hayek expressed his hope that such a success will attract other countries in the region “to come to the table”. The US-brokered deal between the UAE and Israel on September 15, 2020, has already paved the way for Israel establishing diplomatic relations with three more Arab nations – Bahrain, Morocco, and Sudan.

Expo 2020, I2U2

The Expo 2020 Dubai helped further consolidate the bilateral ties, the ambassador said. “Expo was a magnet that brought many people to Dubai. And when they came, they saw not only Expo, they saw the UAE also. The Expo sold the power of the UAE, the beauty of the UAE and the tolerance of the UAE for us Israelis. I would like to congratulate the Emirati leadership, the Emirati management of Expo, which was one of the greatest events I ever saw.”

Talking about the I2U2 Group comprising of the UAE, the US, India and Israel, which launched two important projects on food corridor and green energy, Hayek said it is just the beginning. “We have a long list and we will do it. Because the economy will move it.” The economic feasibility of such projects and determination of the leadership of the four nations will “push them forward”, he added.

Climate, tech cooperation

On the bilateral cooperation in global and regional climate action in the wake of two upcoming global events – COP27 in Cairo in November 2022 and COP 28 in the UAE in 2023 – the envoy said industries in both countries can work together to check climate change.

“I am telling everyone in Israel that the UAE would like to cooperate with Israeli companies under the headline of impact. When I am talking about impact, I am talking about all the industries that can have an impact here in the UAE. They can have impact in the region and all over all over the world. One of them is environment.”

He explained that the bilateral cooperation in food-tech, agrotechnology, renewable energy, water, education, health, especially telemedicine, can make the world better. “We will cooperate for that.”