Abraham Accord: Many Israeli tourists want to visit UAE, leading rabbi says

Marc Schneier, an authority on Muslim-Jewish relations, predicts widespread interest in visiting the Emirates

Abu Dhabi, U.A.E., February 4, 2019.   Rabbi Marc Schneier interview at The National office.
Victor Besa/The National
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Reporter:  Gillian Duncan
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Regular flights from Israel would bring many tourists to the UAE following the country’s historic peace accord with the country, said a Rabbi who is an expert in Muslim-Jewish relations.

The historic Abraham Accord was announced on Thursday after a phone call between US President Donald Trump, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Rabbi Marc Schneier, co-author of Sons of Abraham: a Candid Conversation about the Issues that Divide and Unite Jews and Muslims, regarded as the "definitive text" on Muslim-Jewish relations, said the accord had been widely celebrated in Israel.

Many Israelis had been keen to visit the UAE for some time, he said.

“So many people, even on the streets, have said, rabbi, when do you think we will see the day when we can come visit Dubai and learn more about our neighbours and Arab culture in the Gulf?” said the American.

“You are going to see an awesome multitude of people descending on the Emirates with supreme warmth, affection, respect and admiration for the leadership of the UAE and for what the country represents.”

The UAE agreed to establish diplomatic relations with Israel in exchange for the suspension of Israel's plan to annex a large area of Palestinian territory in the West Bank.

The accord envisages travel between the two countries, trade – including of technology and goods – and co-operation in areas such as food security, climate change and energy, according to a joint statement.

The news was welcomed by the United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres; the UN Special Co-ordinator for the Middle East Peace Process, Nikolay Mladenov; and a host of major states, including the UK and France.

Rabbi Schneier, who has been called the Rabbi to the Muslim world, visited the UAE to address the Global Conference of Human Fraternity last year during the Pope's visit.

His efforts to establish greater dialogue between Jews and Muslims stretch back 15 years and he has been visiting the Gulf for the past 13 years. He said he knows many of the leaders in the region personally.

The rabbi said he expects the “remarkable” accord to have a domino effect, which will see other regional countries normalise relations with Israel by the end of the year.

It would also save the two state solution, added the rabbi, who is based in the US.

“This is such a meaningful step on the part of the leadership of the UAE that will have tremendous results, ramifications in the most positive way throughout the region,” said the rabbi.