American Jewish Committee to open UAE office

Plans to open the office in the Emirates have been welcomed

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The American Jewish Committee has announced plans to open an office in the UAE.

The advocacy group is considered the leading American Jewish organisation.

The announcement comes after the Emirates and Israel agreed to begin normalising relations, signing the US-­brokered Abraham Accord on August 13.

Since before the country's founding, UAE society has encouraged tolerance and inclusion

It will be the group’s 13th overseas office.

"The establishment of diplomatic relations between the UAE and Israel realises a vision that AJC has helped to pursue for decades," said David Harris, the committee’s chief executive.

"By moving forward on our plans to open an office in the Emirates, AJC hopes to expand on our decades of bridge-building and create a wider network of stakeholders in the new relationships made possible on August 13.”

The committee plans to deepen ties with the Jewish community of the UAE, which it has supported for years.

“The American Jewish Committee itself had some role in bringing together members of our community in the early years in our development and we feel a deep debt of gratitude for their support of our communities,” said Ross Kriel, the head of the Jewish Council of the Emirates.

“The fact that the AJC has formed the intention to open an office here in the UAE signifies the importance that American Jewish organisations and Jewish organisations around the world are giving to the UAE following the announcement of the Abraham Accord, which gives the UAE a significant leadership role.”

Yehuda Sarna, the chief rabbi of the council, said the organisation played an essential role in the early history of the country's Jewish community.

“Its mission aligns with our aspiration to serve as a lighthouse community, a platform for cross-cultural engagement, within the UAE and beyond,” he said.

“Through its professionalism, care, nuance, and respect for others, AJC has rightly earned the trust of so many leaders in this region."

The UAE's ambassador to the US, Yousef Al Otaiba, welcomed the group's plans for a new office.

“Since before the country’s founding, UAE society has encouraged tolerance and inclusion,” he said.

“AJC’s longstanding dialogue and engagement with the UAE has played a productive role, consistent with this vision. We welcome this announcement, and look forward to working with AJC in the days ahead as they continue their effective engagement in the region.”

The committee was founded in New York City in 1906 by members concerned about pogroms against Jews in the Russian Empire. In the 1920s, it campaigned against immigration restrictions in the US and anti-Semitic literature.

It was the first American Jewish organisation to open a permanent office in Israel. Today, the organisation is active in global diplomacy and legislative advocacy, coalition building and strategic communications.

Since 2010, its diplomatic efforts included opposition to the Iranian nuclear enrichment programme and a campaign to have the EU recognise Hezbollah as a terrorist organisation.