Saudi Arabia Signals Approval of New Israel Lovefest With Open Skies Announcement
The eyes of the world have been on Saudi Arabia since the blockbuster Israel-United Arab Emirates thaw was announced. Although Riyadh is apparently not ready to follow suit as dramatically as its Gulf neighbors, experts see great significance in Wednesday’s announcement that flights to and from Israel will be permitted to fly over Saudi airspace, which reduces flying time between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi from nine hours to a little more than three hours. One of the celebrated achievements of the two-day visit by Israelis to the UAE was the double firsts chalked-up by El Al Flight 971: becoming the first commercial flight to fly nonstop between the two airports and the first commercial Israeli flight to overfly Saudi Arabia. The announcement relayed through the Saudi News Agency was that “all” nations will be allowed to fly over the kingdom. It was also revealed that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu made a secret visit to the UAE to kick-start the peace moves that led to the August 13 announcement.