Israel Gulf Report
UAE's new ambassador Al Khaja in multi-day high level meetings with Israeli officials
It has been a busy and exciting few days for the new United Arab Emirates ambassador to Israel. Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja presented his credentials on March 1 and was welcomed by Israel's Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi. In a statement and photos from Israel's Foreign Ministry, Ashkenazi said that this was "another historic day in the Middle East and a great step towards strengthening peace between countries and peoples."
Sworn in during mid-February in the UAE, he arrived in Israel to fanfare and excitement. Since then he has been in back-to-back meetings. Prior to arrival in Israel he met Israel's Head of Mission in the UAE Eitan Na'eh on February 23.
On March 1 he met Ambassador Alon Ushpiz, Director-General of the Israeli Foreign Ministers and also Ambassador Haim Regev, Director of the Middle East Division. They "discussed the Abraham Accords and strengthening joint efforts to support regional security and stability." The same day, in which he presented his credentials to Israel's President Reuven Rivlin, he also met with Ashkenazi.
The next day he met today with Noam Katz, Deputy Director General at the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Along with Katz's team, they discussed digital and public diplomacy and best practices to enhance cooperation between the countries, the Ambassador wrote on Twitter.
On March 2 he also met Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He wrote that they discussed UAE-Israeli relations and bilateral cooperation in combating the COVID-19 pandemic. "I thank the Prime Minister for the warm welcome I have received in Israel." Then he went to a meeting with Ofir Akunis, the Minister of Regional Cooperation. Akunis and his committee also dealt with exemptions for travel during the airport closure.
The following day, Wednesday, he met with Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen, Israeli's Minister of Tourism, where they talked travel. Some 130,000 Israelis went to the UAE when travel began in November. An airport closure in Israel has slowed that, however it will pick up again. Visa-free travel is also expected in June or July. "Tourism is one of the most important sectors in both the UAE and Israel, and we will work together to exchange experiences and stimulate tourism," the Ambassador wrote. He also met with Shai-Lee Spigelman, Director General of the Israeli Ministry of Science and Technology. "The UAE has made major progress in the technology and space sectors, and I look forward to deepening our cooperation in these areas." The Ambassador tweets about his meetings in Arabic, Hebrew and English.
The pace of the meetings underpins the overall rapid pace of developments between Israel the UAE. Whether it is Israeli companies at GITEX or IDEX, or hopes for the upcoming GISEC, there is a huge amount of interest in multi-layered cooperation.
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