Arab billionaire: Family unity before business

Entrepreneur Mohamed Alabbar says normalization with Israel is about more than business. 'Can we meet each other first?'

Yoni Kempinski ,

Mohamed Alabbar
Mohamed Alabbar
Courtesy of the photographer

At the "Israel Day" last week at the Gitex international tech summit in UAE, which saw the participation of senior Israeli and Emirati officials from the tech, business and innovation worlds, entrepreneur Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Emaar Properties and said that normalization with Israel is about more than a mere increase in business contacts.

"Everybody's talking about how we can do business with Israel, and I say, 'no, I'm not interested in business. Can we meet each other first?'"

"Can our kids meet your kids? Can we exchange CVs? I think that is really the ultimate goal of this thing."

"I don't think it's about business. Business will come.

But first, he said, "I need to meet your mother, you need to come and meet my mother."

"I said, if you want to know what peace means, and what we Arabs and Muslims are all about, come to my mother's house. You don't need anything else except to see my mother, and I'm sure the same with his mother.

"I'm quite keen on this 'family reunion,' and for people to know each other. And for our kids to get introduced to our friends of from Israels' kids and [to] create that unity," Alabbar said.