The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is expected to allow tourists holding Israeli passports to take part in the Expo 2020, which the Persian Gulf state’s biggest and most luxurious city of Dubai is going to host for 173 days.
“Israeli and the UAE’s authorities have been in talks for a while, in order to allow those with Israeli passports to attend the Expo in Dubai,” an unnamed source within the Expo’s management team told Israeli daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronoth.
The source added, “These talks are happening because both sides want to see the Expo turn into the biggest exhibition in the world. The UAE invested tremendous amounts of money and thought into the event and they want Israelis to be welcomed as well.”
Another source said the Expo in Dubai could be a great pilot run during which Israeli tourists would be allowed into the country, and it turns out to be a step the UAE “might leave its doors open to Israeli tourists permanently.”
Israel’s trade with Persian Gulf states is estimated to stand at around $1 billion annually, according to a study published by the Tony Blair Institute for Global Change in August 2018.
Jamal al-Suwaidi, founder of the Emirates Center for Strategic Studies and Research, told the British newspaper The Guardian in an interview in March that the Palestinian issue is no longer at the top of the agenda among the Arab Persian Gulf states.
“The Palestinian cause is no longer at the forefront of Arabs’ interests, as it used to be for long decades,” he said. “It has sharply lost priority in light of the challenges, threats and problems that face countries of the region.”
The Israeli foreign minister, Israel Katz, told a ministerial meeting in Jerusalem al-Quds on August 6 that he was working toward “transparent normalization and signed agreements” with a number of Arab Persian Gulf littoral states.
Katz visited the Emirati capital city of Abu Dhabi on June 30 for a UN environmental conference, where he discussed cooperation against Iran, as well as economic and transport collaboration, Israeli i24NEWS television news network reported.
On October 26 last year, Israeli culture and sports minister Miri Regev had also traveled to the UAE to accompany Israel’s judo team at the Abu Dhabi Grand Slam 2018.
Her visit to the UAE marked the first of its kind by an Israeli minister to a Persian Gulf littoral state.
The president of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) said last December that the then chief of staff of the Israeli military, Gadi Eisenkot, had secretly traveled twice to the UAE a month earlier, and had met with senior officials there.
Mort Fridman further noted that an agreement on the sale of Israeli military hardware to the UAE was struck during the meeting.
Earlier this year, Israel re-launched a “virtual embassy” in a bid to “promote dialogue” with the Persian Gulf Arab states.
Arab countries — except for Jordan and Egypt — have no formal relations with the Israeli regime.