Infrastructure Minister Silvan Shalom will lead an Israeli delegation to Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, to attend a conference focused on renewable energy, his spokesman confirmed to The Jerusalem Post on Thursday.
Shalom will attend the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Fourth Assembly, held at the St. Regis Hotel on Saadiyat Island from January 18 to 19, as part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
He follows in the footsteps of then-energy and water minister Uzi Landau, who traveled to a similar Abu Dhabi conference on January 16, 2010, and became the first minister to visit the United Arab Emirates. Israeli is one of 123 member-states of IRENA, an intergovernmental organization focused on renewable energy development that is based in Abu Dhabi.
This is the first Israeli delegation visit to the UAE, with which Israel has no diplomatic ties, since the assassination of Hamas operative Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in Dubai on January 19, 2010.
While Israel never confirmed or denied involvement in the killing, the Dubai police chief afterward forbade all Israelis from entering the country, even those holding foreign passports.
The Israeli delegation is able to attend the conference because the international organization is based on UAE soil, Shalom’s spokesman stressed.
“If Israel is a full member of IRENA and that takes place in Abu Dhabi, it’s inconceivable that we wouldn’t be able to go to that assembly,” his spokesman said. “At the end of the day we are going there with Israeli passports.”
The delegation is to include Hevel Eilot Regional Council Chairman Udi Gat, who will deliver a presentation, the spokesman said.
Gat, whose southern Arava Desert region has become a hub for renewable energy, said he plans to speak about “how from an idea you create a project” – how to integrate all of the complicated aspects of government and business that go into forging forward with renewable energy plans. In addition, he told the Post, he intends to explain how you can transform a municipality or a region through renewable energy projects.
“I think it will be interesting and I hope to meet people from all over the world,” he said. “I want to brand the [Eilat-Eilot Renewable Energy] Conference that we have this December.”