A Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is “emerging from the shadows” after flights to and from Israel began following this summer’s détente.
New prayer facilities have been springing up across Dubai and some kosher caterers said they had taken on new staff members to meet demand, as the Abraham Accords signed between Israel, the UAE and Bahrain ushers in change.
Speaking to France 24, Rabbi Levi Duchman said: “The Jewish community here comprises Jews from all over the world – Europe, Australia, America, New Zealand… Our community is really mixed.”
After the UAE lifted the ban on Israeli passport-holders entering the country, dozens of bilateral business deals have been agreed and relations have blossomed.
Jeremy Cohen, a French citizen living in Dubai, said: “These agreements have changed everything. We’re less afraid to show ourselves.”
The arrival of the first Israeli tourists has led to hotels creating kosher kitchens as well as a sense of friendship. Solly Wolf, UAE Jewish community president, said: “People in the street now shout ‘Shalom, how are you?’”
The thaw is being credited to UAE’s crown prince, who has ordered the construction of a giant mosque, church and synagogue next to each other in a central location, intended to symbolise the kingdom’s religious tolerance.
Elli Kriel of Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, which supplies kosher meals mainly to hotels, said she had taken on seven new staff members. “It’s very busy now,” she said. “Everyone wants to be here. Every Jewish tourist wants to come to Dubai.”
Local tourism officials say there could be up to 100,000 Israeli visitors in the coming weeks, while envoys say up to £3.5 billion in bilateral trade is possible next year.
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