The United Arab Emirates formally dedicated its embassy in Tel Aviv.
“This embassy will serve not just as a home for diplomats but a base for our task to continue to build on our new partnership, to seek dialogue, not dispute, to build a new paradigm of peace, and to provide a model for a new collaborative approach to conflict resolution in the Middle East,” UAE Ambassador Mohamed Al Khaja said on Wednesday morning in front of the new embassy, located in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building.
“Since the normalization of ties between Israel and the UAE, we have seen – for the first time – discussions on trade and investment opportunities, collaboration between hospitals, universities and research centers, cultural and people-to-people exchanges, cooperation in combating COVID-19, countering cyberthreats, and protecting our environment. We signed major agreements across various fields, including economy, air travel, technology and culture,” Khaja said.
“And this is just the beginning. In our post-COVID world, those who innovate will lead,” he also said, adding: “The UAE and Israel are both innovative nations.”
“The people in this region are eager for a stable, functioning, and prosperous Middle East. It is time for new approaches and thinking to set a new and better path for the future of the region,” Khaja said.
Khaja opened the day’s trading on the TASE at the end of the ceremony.
Israel’s President Isaac Herzog, who joined Khaja in cutting a ribbon to open the embassy, said that: “While seeing the Emirati flag flying proudly in Tel Aviv might have seemed like a far-fetched dream just about a year ago, in many ways, nothing could be more natural and normal. So many Israelis and Emiratis have discovered our countries and people share a great deal.”
“We are both nations that cherish our history and traditions while pushing the very boundaries of innovation and science. We are deeply rooted in our land while having our eyes on the stars, while we both build our modern states out of the desert sands. We made the impossible possible. And we have both created vibrant, multicultural societies through an unwavering commitment to religious freedom and human dignity,” he said.
The peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, Herzog said, “will save lives, will help humanity, will help the region, will develop food, water and medicine for the benefit of humankind, all through people-to-people dialogue. Both of our cultures will be enriched.”
Herzog praised the leadership of the Emirates for the “courageous decision to open the door to a warm friendship between our peoples. It is not only an important step for Israel and the United Arab Emirates, but for the entire Middle East. The Abraham Accords will promote stability, security throughout our region, and will demonstrate to all the tremendous promise and potential of peace.”
He called for the extension of the agreement to other countries and nations. “We are a nation of peace and those who are interested in peace with us will be welcomed with open arms,” he said.
Last month, Israeli Foreign Minister Yair Lapid, who missed Wednesday’s ceremony after being required to quarantine due to an aide testing positive for the coronavirus, opened the Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi and a consulate in Dubai.
Also on Wednesday, UAE Minister for Food and Water Security Mariam Al-Muhairi met with representatives of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem to promote a research and innovation partnership based on FoodTech and Agtech. The meeting is the first official visit of a senior UAE government official to an Israeli academic institution since the two countries agreed to normalize relations.
Professor Benny Chefetz, dean of The Robert H. Smith Faculty of Agriculture, Food and Environment, called the minister’s visit “prescient and historic,” adding: “We look forward to sharing our know-how with our neighbors in the Middle East so that we may meet the challenges of climate change together and better prepared.”
Israel and the UAE agreed to the peace deal in August 2020, and signed the Abraham Accords normalizing relations between the two countries in a ceremony in Washington on Sept. 15, 2020. Israel also signed a normalization agreement with Bahrain the same day.
(Marcy Oster contributed to this report)