Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed welcomes opening of American Jewish Committee branch in UAE

Abu Dhabi hosts advocacy group's first office in Arab world

The American Jewish Committee has opened an office in Abu Dhabi, the group said at its annual global forum on Monday.

The AJC is one of the world’s leading global Jewish advocacy groups.

The branch, called the Sidney Lerner Centre for Arab-Jewish Understanding, will be led by the former US ambassador to Oman, Marc Sievers.

Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, the UAE’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation, welcomed the move at an online forum.

“We are thrilled to have you,” Sheikh Abdullah told Jason Isaacson, AJC’s chief policy and political affairs officer.

"I hope that your team here in the UAE will feel at home and we will do everything possible to make your presence here worthwhile."

Sheikh Abdullah and Mr Isaacson discussed the Abraham Accords and the recent violence between Israel and Hamas.

Sheikh Abdullah said the pandemic was an important factor in bringing about the normalisation of relations with Israel, and he saw many opportunities for the countries to collaborate.

“The recognition of science will play a much bigger role in our thinking moving forward and it's only possible when you have successful technological countries like the UAE and Israel in the region who can come together," he said.

"I think such a partnership is due. But Covid has made us move in that direction much faster."

While science is an important part of the UAE and Israel’s relationship, Sheikh Abdullah said that as tourism and cultural exchanges between the two nations continued, it would become a “people-to-people relationship, a people-to-people peace".

He said he hoped the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas would hold and stressed the need for “strategic thinking on both sides” to pave a new path towards peace.

Sheikh Abdullah said he hoped the UAE-Israeli agreement would help to inspire other countries in the region to reimagine the future.

“I really hope that the Abrahamic Accords can excite the people of the region, that this goes beyond peace and it gets to a point where we are partners in seeing a better future for our kids,” he said.

The Sidney Lerner Centre’s aim is to promote Arab-Jewish and Muslim-Jewish dialogue and co-operation, and to build on the Abraham Accords by strengthening relations between Israel and Gulf states.

It will also fight anti-Semitism and form partnerships with Jewish communities in the region.

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