Israel will open a formal diplomatic office in Abu Dhabi, the Foreign Ministry confirmed Friday, after an anonymous official leaked the news to Haaretz.
An Israeli mission to the UN's International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), which is based in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) capital, will open by the end of the month, the Foreign Ministry said. The office will focus on working with the UN agency to find sources of renewable energy.
Jerusalem sees the move as a significant breakthrough in relations between Israel and its Gulf neighbors, a bond which has reportedly developed quietly over the past two years as both shared reservations about the nuclear deal between Iran and fear Tehran's designs in the region.
Israel has invested great effort over the past decade to draw closer to these countries, and while most of the cooperation between Israel and the Gulf states is in the fields of intelligence and security away from public view, the opening of the representative office is an exceptional public step of diplomatic rapport between the two countries.
Walla! News reports Friday that Israel voted specifically to host the IRENA office in Abu Dhabi - instead of the initial locale chosen for the office, in Germany - in the hope of boosting Israel-UAE relations.
Despite the growing ties animosity towards Israel remains visible in the UAE, as seen several weeks ago when Israeli judokas were forced to compete in Abu Dhabi without any Israeli flags or identification of where they hail from.