Israel Independence Day observed in Bahrain for first time

Event marks the first public observance of Israel Independence Day in the Persian Gulf.

Tsahi Halevy in Bahrain

More than four hundred guests, including Bahraini government officials and business leaders, attended the Israeli Embassy's Independence Day event on Thursday evening, May 26, to celebrate the close relationship that has developed between the countries since the signing of the Abraham Accords in 2020.

Israeli actor and singer Tsahi Halevi, who starred in the hit television show Fauda, and Chef Doron Sasson participated in the program. Bahrain's Ministry of Interior's band played the Israeli and Bahraini national anthems. The event marks the first time that Israel has held a National day event in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which include Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates.

This is the first such event of its kind following the opening of the embassy by then-Foreign Minister Yair Lapid in September 2021. Ambassador Eitan Na'eh, Israel's first Ambassador to the Kingdom, arrived in November 2021.

Chef Doron Sasson (Credit: Israeli embassy in Bahrain)Chef Doron Sasson (Credit: Israeli embassy in Bahrain)

​The evening focused on the advancement of the relationship between the two countries and included a recorded message from then-Foreign Minister Lapid and speeches from Ambassador Dr. Sheikh Abdallah bin Ahmad Al Khalifa, Undersecretary in Bahrain's Foreign Ministry and Israeli Ambassador Na'eh, plus a musical performance by Halevi. Chef Sasson prepared a special menu for the evening, offering a fusion of Bahraini and Israeli dishes. ״ "I'm going to bring Israeli food to Bahrain at its best using the local products," he said.

Heads of major companies from Israel's oil and gas, cyber, manufacturing, fintech, high-tech, pharmaceutical/ biotech and logistics sectors were in attendance. Speeches highlighted the business, cultural and people-to-people opportunities between Israel and Bahrain.

​In his remarks, Na'eh spoke about the vision shared by both governments regarding the opportunities for both nations. He highlighted the economic activity between the two countries, which is expected to reach hundreds of millions of dollars within the next few years. Ambassador Na'eh emphasized the advantages of agreements in medical research, technology and trade. He also mentioned the various Jewish and Israeli delegations which recently visited Bahrain, including representatives from YPO and Israel Bonds who met with Bahrain's government leaders and visited business leaders, sharing meals in their homes. He highlighted the opportunities in the higher education, technology and arts and culture space as well. 

Credit: Israeli Embassy in BahrainCredit: Israeli Embassy in Bahrain

Singer Tzahi Halevi says: "Our Independence Day reception shows the authentic, warm and genuine relationship between Israel and Bahrain – its leadership and people," said Ambassador Na'eh. "The new Middle East is built upon a shared desire to cooperate in all areas from security to sustainable energy, water and food security to tourism and other areas." 

Being the first ever Israeli artist to perform in the kingdom of Bahrain was an experience I will always cherish and never forget.

Although I’ve sung in Arabic many times before, this time while singing at the occasion of the Israeli 74 th Independence Day celebration in Bahrain, in front of many distinguished guests, From Bahrain and foreign countries, I strongly felt and connected to every word I sang.

Although a very short visit, I had the chance of meeting wonderful people, received a very warm welcome and visited a few special sights( the ancient synagogue amongst others).

Truly looking forward to coming back and enhancing potential collaborations, especially through cultural events, wether it’s music , cinema or any other art form.

I feel there’s a big hunger for a mutual encounter of both cultures and in general a strong desire to fill in the gap that exists between the societies for so many years.

On my way back home at the airport in Dubai, I found my self spending an hour of conversation with someone from Pakistan, who appeared to know me as an actor, and whose dream is to come visit Israel.

These are the moments where I understand the power of art and how it can be helpful in building bridges ,overcoming the fear from the unknown, and hopefully establishing a brighter future.

An opportunity to thank Mrs. Houda Nonoo , former ambassador of Bahrain to the US and Israeli ambassador to Bahrain Mr. Eitan Naeh for making this happen and for their warm hospitality". 

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