UAE  - The signing of the Abraham Accords has built trust and boosted diplomatic ties between Israel and the UAE, said Israeli Ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek.

In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times Hayek, who is the first Israeli Ambassador to the UAE, said the signing of the accords has established strong diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE, built trust and boasted trade, tourism, and investments.

Hayek, who took charge as the envoy in October 2021, said on Friday that what the UAE and Israel have achieved over the past two years indicates that the Abraham Accords is a very significant agreement and not just about the wording or signing. “The accords is about implementation,” he said

Israel and the UAE are celebrating the second anniversary of the Abraham Accords signed on September 15, 2020.

“Over the past two years, there are quite a number of things that Israel and the UAE can be proud of, including the opening up of diplomatic missions in both countries, something we didn’t have in the past,” he said.

“In the last 11 months, we have had two visits of the Israeli President, and two visits of the Israeli Prime Minister to the UAE. We have also had around 20 visits of Israeli ministers to the UAE.

"Israel and the UAE have signed about 20 agreements and MoUs, including the significant Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA).”

The CEPA deal, signed earlier this year, will deepen trade and investment ties, accelerate growth, and lead to a new era of peace, stability, and prosperity in the Middle East, he said.

The UAE became the first Arab country to normalise relations with Israel since Jordan in 1994. The official Israeli embassy in the UAE was opened in June 2021, while the UAE opened it embassy in Tel Aviv on July 14.

Hayek said trade between the two-nations has reached $1.41 billion over the first seven months of 2022, compared to $1.22 billion in 2021. “We expect trade of goods between UAE and Israel to reach more than $2 billion by the end of 2022,” he said.

The ambassador said that Israel trades with 126 countries, with the UAE in presently in the 19th position in terms of bilateral trade. He said that in three years, he expects the UAE to be among the top 10 nations trading with Israel .

According to Hayek, an estimated 450,000 Israeli tourists visited the UAE during the past two years and thousands of Emirati tourists have been welcomed to Israel.

“I am happy with the figures and this is just the beginning. Tourism is one the most important tools to create people-to-people relations. I am hopeful that more people from both nations will be visiting to get to know each other and learn about each other’s culture,” he said.

Hayek pointed out that UAE and Israel are going in the right direction and continue doing so as Israeli companies look to the UAE as the growth engine for their industry and economy. “I also believe that Israeli firms and the Israeli technology can be a growth engine for the UAE economy. It is a win-win situation that will lead to much better economic ties and cooperation between the two,” he said.

The ambassador said Israel is ready to cooperate with the UAE in all areas that can have a economic impact on the UAE, the region and globally. "These may include renewable energies, water, food security and food tech, agro technology, medical equipment and telemedicine, remote learning transportation, finance and others."

Israel-Palestine relations

When asked whether the Abraham Accords can play a role in bringing peace between Israel and Palestine, Hayek said that Israel is keen on having peace with Palestine. “But Israel will always give top priority to the security of its citizens,” he said.

“In order to push forward and bring down the grievances between Israelis and Palestinians, we have to build trust first.”

The ambassador said he believed athe two sides could improve relations by improving the infrastructure, water, energy, health, education in schools and universities in the Palestinian authority.

“Israel is ready to help in all ways in order to build trust and make life easier for both sides and to be able to discuss with Palestinians on anything that can bring stability and peace to the region,” said Hayek.

He said the UAE can always play an important role in building the trust and improving relations between Israel and Palestine.

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