Israel to attend Expo 2020 Dubai, an Arab state with whom it has no ties

Israeli-UAE relations have been improving over the past few years.

Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz  (photo credit: Courtesy)
Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Israel’s government is set to decide today on whether to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai in October of next year, which will draw some 190 nations and is expected to be the largest World’s Fair held in the Middle East and Africa.
“This reflects on-the-ground continued progress in normalization with the Arab states,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting. “We have increasingly tighter relations with at least half-a-dozen Arab states. This has been done thanks to our policy that combines strength, common interests and very careful step-by-step approach to advance normalization, which in my view, will bring about peaceful relations in the end. It will take time, but we will get there.”
According to its website, the world’s fair – the first to be held in Dubai – will attract 25 million visitors, some 70% of which are expected to come from outside the United Arab Emirates. It will take place from October 20, 2020, through April 10, 2021.
According to Expo 2020 Dubai, innovations launched at previous world’s fairs have included, “the telephone (Philadelphia, 1876), the Eiffel Tower (Paris, 1889), the Ferris wheel (Chicago, 1893), the X-ray machine (Buffalo, 1901), the ice cream cone (St. Louis, 1904), the commercial broadcast television (New York, 1939), IMAX (Osaka, 1970), touch screens (Knoxville, 1982) and the humanoid robot (Nagoya, 2005).”
Israel – which hosted a world’s fair in 1953 and attended one in Kazakhstan in 2017 – wants to spend NIS 55,300 on this one, according to information published Sunday by the Prime Minister’s Office following the meeting. That budget has yet to be approved.
The cabinet decision also called for the appointment of an expo commissioner and a committee to oversee Israel’s participation in this half-year-long event.
Israel and the UAE do not have formal diplomatic ties, but ties have warmed between the pair to the extent that formal delegations from Israel have visited and participated in international events hosted there.
Just last week, students from the Megiddo Regional High School participated in the First Global Challenge robotics Olympic-style competition in Dubai and won a silver medal. Foreign Minister Israel Katz visited Abu Dhabi in July to take part in a UN event on the environment.
In October 2018, Israeli judoka Sagi Muki won a gold medal at the Judo Grand Competition in Abu Dhabi. In his honor, Israel’s national anthem was played publicly in that country for the first time.