Netanyahu welcomes first-ever UAE ambassador to Israel

“We are changing the Middle East; we are changing the world.”

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with the first UAE Ambassador to Israel, Muhammad Mahmoud Al Khaja, March 2, 2021.  (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with the first UAE Ambassador to Israel, Muhammad Mahmoud Al Khaja, March 2, 2021.
(photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)
 Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed the first Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Israel, Muhammad Mahmoud Al Khaja, on Tuesday, a day after his arrival for a four-day visit.
“We are changing the Middle East; we are changing the world,” Netanyahu told Al Khaja.
The two discussed potential joint regional and bilateral projects for Israel and the UAE in a wide range of areas, the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The PMO characterized the meeting as “warm and friendly,” and said National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat participated as well.
Al Khaja also visited Yad Vashem on Tuesday.
The ambassador is expected to look for a site for the embassy and his residence in the coming days. He will plans to come back to Israel full-time at the end of the month.
On Monday, Khaja presented his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.
Rivlin told the ambassador that the whole nation is excited to welcome him. 
"We waited patiently for relations to grow step by step, and now we are privileged to see this wonderful day at the President's Residence in Jerusalem, the capital of Israel," he said.
Rivlin emphasized the importance of Emiratis meeting the people of Israel and getting to know them,
Khaja’s speech illustrated the common aspirations of the two countries that a new day of tolerance and cooperation is dawning in the Middle East - "today more than ever” – and he expressed certainty that the Abraham Accords between Israel and the UAE will enhance stability and security in the region.
Earlier, Khaja met with Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi, who said it was “another historic day in the Middle East and a great step towards strengthening peace between our countries and nations.”
“We have a historic opportunity to present a model of warm, comprehensive peace,” he added.
Ashkenazi said the exchange of embassies is “critical for establishing bilateral relations and promoting peace.”
Al Khaja has been tweeting in Hebrew, English and Arabic in recent days. Following his meeting with Rivlin, he tweeted in all three languages: “I look forward to representing my beloved country and working to strengthen cooperation and relations between our two countries.”

Greer Fay Cashman contributed to this report.