Rabbi Levi Duchman, the Chabad emissary for the United Arab Emirates, was born and raised in the US, but has lived for the past six years in the Arab world for the past nine years, including three years in Morocco and six in the UAE.
In an interview with Arutz Sheva, Rabbi Duchman discussed what life is like in a Muslim-majority country, and how the new normalization deal with Israel is impacting Jewish life in Dubai.
“It is a wonderful feeling to finally have the opportunity to welcome all the Israelis and Jews from around the world.”
“I had the experience over the past six years enjoying the hospitality of the United Arab Emirates, from the authorities, as a Jew living in the UAE, in a Muslim country. Now seeing other Jews come and have that opportunity as well – it is a great feeling to see this.”
How are locals reacting to the sudden wave of tourism from Israel to the UAE?
“Things move quickly here, as you can see downtown.”
“Our neighbors are very excited about it. Many of the neighbors come to me and say: ‘Rabbi Levi, do you need any help? We see your house is busy, people are coming’. They’re excited, the country is excited to have these special guests.”
How should Israelis act when they come to this country they’re not yet familiar with?
“The United Arab Emirates did not have many Israelis coming in past years, and they never really had an opportunity to experience Israelis. So when the Israelis do come to the UAE and give a good image of Israelis, and show their knowledge and education and good behavior, that is an opportunity to be a light unto the nations.”
What goes on here in the Jewish community center of Dubai?
“The Jewish community center is the center of Jewish life in Dubai. We have a daily minyan [prayer quorum] where community members and tourists can come pray shacharit [morning prayers]. We have breakfast after. We have just outside a gan [kindergarten] and a nursery. We offer programs for children.”
“It is also a cultural center. This is the home for many people.”
How do you relate to terror warnings in Israel for this region?
“The priority of the United Arab Emirates was always to keep its citizens and its residents and its tourists safe, and they’ve been doing a great job from the beginning.”