FM Yair Lapid to make first-ever official visit of Israeli government minister to the UAE

During two-day visit, Lapid will preside over opening of Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi, consulate in Dubai.

Ido Ben Porat ,

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid
Foreign Minister Yair Lapid

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid is to make a two-day trip to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week, as a guest of the UAE’s Foreign Minister, Abdullah Bin Zayed. This will be the first-ever official visit by a minister of the Israeli government to the Emirates.

During his stay, Lapid will also preside over the official opening of the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi and the Israeli consulate in Dubai.

The Foreign Minister’s office announced that, “The relationship between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is a very important one, and the benefits deriving from this relationship are not confined to citizens of the two countries, but spread to the entire Middle East.”

Speaking at a global investment forum at the beginning of the month, Israel’s ambassador to the UAE, Eytan Naeh, stressed that the relationship between the two countries would remain strong regardless of any change in government in Israel.

“It doesn’t make any difference who is prime minister,” Naeh said at the forum, which was held in Dubai and sponsored by both the Jerusalem Post and the Khalij Times. He remarked that when he first arrived in the UAE, “People brought me cakes and gave me such a warm welcome,” and said that things have not cooled off since.

Naeh also emphasized that the most recent conflict with Gaza has not diminished the enthusiasm of officials in the two countries to move forward and develop new ties, and that there are even those who are actively interested in hearing the Israeli side of what has been going on. “They want to listen and hear what we have to say, even when they don’t agree with us,” he said. “It’s significant that people are willing to listen to one another and that we are creating the possibility for them to do that.”

Naeh added that, “Our two countries have signed on an economic agreement, and others will be following in their footsteps,” including people from the private sector, not just official bodies.

“Israelis are ‘voting with their feet’ when it comes to the UAE,” Naeh stressed. “In December alone, 85,000 Israelis visited Dubai, and more are planning to come. The fact that nothing has succeeded in damaging our relationship is a very encouraging sign for everything we’re doing here. Israelis are free to come, and once all the coronavirus restrictions are removed, residents of the Emirates will be able to visit Israel too.”