For decades, the 50 or so members of Bahrain’s Jewish community practised their religion largely behind closed doors.
The Abraham Accords, signed a year ago in Washington by the UAE, Bahrain and Israel, changed that overnight.
The community was once again able to practise its faith openly, as it had for decades after it was established in the late 1800s by Jewish traders in Basra, who heard about the opportunities Bahrain offered.
A synagogue, which was built in the early 1900s but ransacked after the creation of Israel, is now renovated and ready for worshippers.
“It’s got a Torah in there and it’s all decked out and ready and we are trying to have Saturday services,” said the leader of the community, Ebrahim Nonoo, a Bahraini who lives in Manama.
“We have started that but unfortunately the community is so small you can’t even get 10 people to attend. Before the accords ... we did everything at home. And we got so used to doing everything at home it became kind of second nature.”
Plans are now afoot to install a rabbi to nurture the community and Mr Nonoo, 61, said the accords were proving to have their own momentum.
Political deal that changed lives of ordinary people
Although the accords were signed by the top level of the three governments involved, it has had a significant effect on the ground.
“This accord is not just between government and nations but between people,” said Rabbi Dr Elie Abadie, the UAE’s senior rabbi in residence.
“The community in the UAE can now be proud of being Jewish. The regular Jew who wishes to wear a kippah, a head covering, can wear it in the street without any fear of repercussion or having to look over their shoulder. And certainly visit places of worship that are known to the public and sanctioned and authorised by the government.
“It has made life in the UAE a lot more comfortable by having kosher establishments, restaurants, catering."
One of those companies, established in the months after the agreement was signed, could help the UAE become a major exporter of kosher food.
Kosher Arabia produces more than 2,000 meals a day from its 1,858-square-metre kitchen in Dubai. It focuses on catering for Emirates and other airlines, as well as for hotels and events.
It is only one of the kosher caterers that OU Kosher, the world’s largest certification agency, is working with in the UAE and the wider Middle East and Africa region, since the establishment of the accords.
“We have been involved in advising different programmes in the emirates,” said Rabbi Menachem Genack, OU Kosher's chief executive.
“There has been tremendous interest in the UAE, Bahrain and also now Morocco", where about 250,000 Jews lived during the Second World War, he said.
The accords have led to the establishment of a variety of business ties and new companies investing in the UAE, experts said.
Making business and peace
Dorian Barak, one of the region's leading fund managers and co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, estimates there has been $500 million of business done in the year since the accords were signed.
Mr Barak, an American living in Israel with residency in Dubai, said more than 500 Israeli companies were now operating in the UAE.
Several dozen companies and families have established themselves in the UAE over the past six months, he said.
They work in many different sectors, including security, technology, sales and renewables.
Asher Fredman, chief executive of Gulf-Israel Green Ventures, set up the first and largest forum to bring Emiratis and Israelis together to find opportunities for eco-tech co-operation after the accords were signed.
Israel can learn a lot from the UAE's green technology achievements, he said, such as the establishment of Masdar City and the country’s solar fields.
Co-operation can help both countries achieve their goals, which include ambitious targets to develop their desert regions, increase renewables and reduce water consumption.
“Not only will this make a lot of business sense for both sides and people will do really well, but I think it will help both of our countries move forward and become leaders in our fields," he said.
“I think this collaboration can really help. It’s sort of a win-win for everybody.”
A new diplomatic mission
One of the most visible and symbolic signs of the normalisation of relations is the establishment of embassies in each country.
Eitan Na'eh, Israel's head of mission to the UAE, is responsible for setting up the embassy in the country.
For now, the embassy is working on setting up, mapping the people and institutions in the UAE and deepening relationships between the countries.
The pandemic has slowed things down, Mr Na'eh said.
“We would have had way more Emirati people visiting Israel, and way more Israeli officials and Israeli people visiting Abu Dhabi,” he said.
Because Dubai was open, many Israelis visited. By December, an estimated 50,000 Israelis had travelled to the UAE.
The welcome they received was warm, he said.
“People would stop Israelis on the street. If I entered a coffee place, people would send cakes to the table. There were people really keen to talk to Israelis,” Mr Na'eh said.
“The same thing happened to the few Emiratis who went to visit Israel. There is a genuine expression in each country and in people in their own way of happiness, enthusiasm, curiosity and interest.
"That was also true to the business community who flocked, mainly to Dubai because Abu Dhabi was closed, to look for business opportunities, to look for co-operation – to get to know what is possible.”