The Jews in Dubai preparing the ground for Israeli tourists

A meeting with a couple living in Dubai for the past 5 years, where they maintain their Jewish tradition and rich community life.

 (photo credit: Courtesy)
(photo credit: Courtesy)
We sat down with Dubai-based Jewelry designer Sarah Besnaino and her husband Steve Ben-Shimol, a real-estate entrepreneur who develops hotels and luxury condos. They have been living in Dubai for the past 5 years, where they maintain their Jewish tradition and rich community life. 
As the owner of an international Jewelry business in the Emirates, do you have any advice for Israelis who wish to start a new business there?

This is a very organized country, everything is very clear here, we have rules, we have great leaders that understand the importance of maintaining a free market, so it's very easy to work here if you do it right. It's extremely important to follow the rules and to do everything by the book. Although it might sound daunting, it’s definitely worth it. 
Are you ready for your new Israeli customers?

We are happy to have the borders open and very excited to have Israelis coming in town. For sure this will be great, but it is also very important to remember to recognize and respect the local culture and the local rules and everything makes the UAE what it is because the beauty of the UAE is based on mutual respect and understanding. This is very important that we respect who they are. 

Will you design a new line inspired by the new peace agreement?

It's a beautiful country, it's a dream to live here, people are very nice, hospitality is really really nice, they are great people, very welcoming, very warm people, it's very safe which is one of the key benefits of living in Dubai and this is fantastic. There will be more and more business opportunities in many sectors.
What can you tell us about the Jewish community and their relationship with their Muslim neighbors?

The Jewish community in Dubai is a beautiful community, very strong with a Chabad led by Rabi Levi Duchman, and the Jewish Council of the Emirates led by Ross Kriel. We are close to both of them. My kids are going to Talmud Tora, Rabi Levi Duchman made a lot of effort to give the full cultural experience. 
Were you living under the radar or openly presenting your Jewish identity?

We are so proud to live in a country that has opened its doors to a wonderful peace agreement that is a historical moment, we are very excited, we thank the leaders of the Emirates for this great move, we are very happy for the support from the US and the Israeli government. It's beautiful for us as a Jewish family to live here in these exciting moments.
What are your expectations from your  Airbnb business and what are your plans for the Israeli tourists?

We are already in preparations for the Israeli tourists, we are trying to create agreements with Israeli travel agencies, we're also preparing to provide the full kosher experience for kosher Israeli tourist. We have apartments near the synagogue, the main board-walk, and the Palm Jumeirah, So we are very well prepared and we are waiting for our Israeli friends to come, as well as Jewish people from around the world. 

Dream inn Dubai is the name of our short-term rental company. We’re making our beautiful apartments and villas ready for the Israeli public. We have several villas with 6-7 bedrooms on the palm with a private beach and private pool, for the ultra-luxury experience.
This article was written in cooperation with the interview subjects.