Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 21 October 2020

'New era' as cargo ship from Dubai arrives in Israel

Eight containers filled with electronics, cleaning supplies and firefighting equipment unloaded in Haifa

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, and US President Donald Trump at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House on September 15, 2020. AFP
Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, with Bahraini Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al Zayani, left, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, second left, and US President Donald Trump at the signing of the Abraham Accords at the White House on September 15, 2020. AFP

The ship-to-shore crane paused above the cargo ship just arrived from Dubai, then set its load down on the pier in Israel.

One after another, eight containers filled with electronics, cleaning supplies, iron and firefighting equipment were unloaded from the MSC Paris.

A few months ago, such a journey from Dubai's Jebel Ali to the port city of Haifa in northern Israel would have been unthinkable.

The countries announced an accord to normalise relations in August, which laid the ground for a new trade route.

The Abraham Accord was signed in a ceremony at the White House in September.

Israeli officials estimated that trade with the UAE could reach as much as $4 billion a year – and nearly all goods will have to travel by sea.

"This is a new era in the Middle East," said Eshel Armony, chairman of the board at Haifa Port.

"We're going to see this line once a week by MSC and, who knows, later on maybe we'll have even more. I hope that will happen quickly."

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said trade with the UAE was the "beginning of something huge".

"Today a cargo ship came from Dubai. With goods. Goods that, by the way, are very cheap and will benefit Israelis," he told Parliament.

An MSC spokesman said that it was the first time containers from the UAE had been unloaded in Haifa on one of the company's ships.

Updated: October 13, 2020 02:53 AM

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