Rabbi Schneier with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of Bahrain
Rabbi Schneier with King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa of BahrainFoundation For Ethnic Understanding

Foundation for Ethnic Understanding President Rabbi Marc Schneier spoke to Arutz Sheva about his groundbreaking work bringing understanding and normalization between Israel and the Arab Gulf states, including the recognition of Dubai's Jewish community.

Rabbi Schneier is in Abu Dhabi after he was invited to meet the Pope in recognition of the work he is doing building Jewish life in the Gulf. This is the first time that a Pope is visiting an Arabian Gulf country and the fact that they’ve asked Rabbi Schneier to come as a result of his role is also historic.

In addition to meeting with the Pope, Rabbi Schneier was asked to speak at the conference the Pope is convening along with the Muslim Council of Elders and which the Pope will also be attending tomorrow in Abu Dhabi.

"Pope Francis’ visit to the UAE is historic and the first papal visit to the Arabian Gulf and it is a true honor for me to be here for this and to represent the Jewish communities in the Gulf," Rabbi Schneier said ". This is not only an incredible fete for the UAE and the Vatican, but it marks a new era for interfaith relations. This weekend, the Emirates are celebrating the publication of a new book, “Celebrating Tolerance: Religious diversity in the UAE,” which lists the religions in the UAE and I’m very proud to share that for the first time, the Jewish community in Dubai is featured which is the official public recognition of the community. My dear friend Minister of Tolerance Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan wrote the introduction to the foreword of the book and as he expressed to me, his pride of the existence of a Jewish community in Dubai.”

“I’ve been traveling to the Gulf in recent weeks as part of my work with three of the Gulf states – Bahrain, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates – to help build and develop Jewish life. As I shared publicly a few weeks ago, I’m working with the Qataris to bring Kosher food and other initiatives for the 2022 World Cup. I’m working on other big projects with Bahrain and the UAE as well. The Gulf is going through a wonderful transformation in promoting different interfaith activities and as they move in this direction, you will see more and more members of the Jewish world visiting the Gulf. As we strengthen the Jewish communities in the Gulf and are able to provide the necessary infrastructure for Jewish life here, we will see the Gulf become a larger destination for Jewish commerce and tourism. We are living in remarkable times and the opportunities are endless. The warming of relations between Israel and the Gulf has contributed significantly to this phenomenon.

The rabbi praised the Jewish community in Dubai after spending Shabbat with the community. “I spent a wonderful Shabbat with the Jewish community in Dubai. I was overjoyed to encounter such a dynamic, young, growing congregation here in Dubai. I was particularly honored to address the community on Shabbat on the eve of their official recognition by UAE officials.”

Rabbi Schneier will head to Vienna tomorrow evening for the Saudi interfaith meeting and then to Israel.