Abraham Accords: What has been the biggest impact so far?
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Abraham Accords: What has been the biggest impact so far?

Abraham Accords: What has been the biggest impact so far?

Prominent Israeli leaders voice their thoughts on the major changes they have seen in the last year

In what was a historic deal, the UAE and Bahrain signed the Abraham Accords with Israel on August 12, 2020, normalising ties between the nations.

A year later, with economic and social connections building between the two sides, some of the prominent members of the Israeli community working with the UAE and Bahrain reveal what they believe has been the biggest impact of the deal so far.

Houda Nonoo, Bahrain’s former ambassador to the US (currently serving in Bahrain’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs): “The signing of the Abraham Accords will no doubt be one of the biggest Middle East milestones in our lifetime and as we celebrate its first anniversary, it is an opportunity to reflect on this auspicious time for Bahrain, and the region more broadly. It is also the time to look forward to the limitless opportunities ahead of us. As one of the few indigenous Jews in the Arabian Gulf, it is particularly meaningful to me. As a citizen of this region, I am filled with excitement to see the construction of a new Middle East, one focused on co-existence and prosperity.

“These accords represent a promise that the leaders in the region have made to build a better life with security and opportunity for all of us and for future generations still to come. I believe that the growing partnerships between Bahrain and Israel will lead to sustainable peace in the region.”

Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council: “We are so blessed to be celebrating the first year of the Abraham accords, a game changer for the future of the region. Every day, we work together to develop a new model for what peace should look like in the Middle East. We are setting an example for the broader region. With grassroots initiatives such as the UAE-Israel Business Council and the Gulf Israel Women’s Forum we are creating a New Middle East where we are aligned by a common vision for peace and prosperity for all.”

Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council: “We’re on pace to reach $3bn in annual trade [between the UAE and Israel] by 2025, with some estimating even more. Some of this is bilateral, but much more of it is Israel trading with and through the UAE as a gateway to other markets in the region, from the large economies in the Arab world to India, South Asia and beyond.”

Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo, president of the Bahrain Jewish Community and the House of Ten Commandments (the synagogue): “This year, we have welcomed many delegations from Israel and expect that number to more than triple in year two. The Covid-19 pandemic prevented many from coming to visit this past year, but nearly every day we hear from another group planning a trip to Bahrain. Due to the influx of Israeli tourists, we have been able to have a few minyanim and are hoping to do that more regularly as the number of tourists increases. Following the signing of the accords, we have seen an increase in kosher food available at our local hotels.”

Asher Fredman, CEO of Gulf-Israel Green Ventures: “In the wake of the Abraham Accords, the combination of Israel and the UAE’s unique strengths, capabilities and spirit can transform the two countries into global leaders in the fields of sustainable innovation and development. We have been leading the way in creating cooperation and synergy between businesses, entrepreneurs and activists from both countries in the fields of greentech and the environment.”

Rabbi Menachem Genack, CEO of OU Kosher: “Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco have been moving at an accelerated pace to create the infrastructure to stimulate Jewish tourism to their countries. In many ways, they have outpaced the Americans and Europeans in this respect. Kosher travellers tend to look for two main things when considering where to go – access to certified kosher food and a synagogue to both pray in and also to learn about the Jewish culture in their destination. In the span of one year, there were many announcements regarding kosher food in all three countries.”

Rabbi Abadie, senior rabbi of the UAE: “We have seen areas of common interest [grow], including trade, business, commerce, tourism, security, cyber, agriculture, water technology and academics. The most important and rewarding area that I see flourishing is the formation of people-to-people associations and groups. These groups have formed solely for the purpose of the populace to get to know each other, learning from each other and appreciate each other’s culture, traditions, and even religious principles. The Jewish Council of the Emirates (JCE) has hosted many Emiratis for Shabbat meals over the last year and we have had dynamic conversations about our commonalities and what unites us. These connections and friendships will cement the accords for many generations to come, and I believe are the most important and significant achievement.”

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