Arcadi Gaydamak supports new Jewish education center in UAE

He recently attended an inaugural event for a Jewish nursery and education center called Mini Miracles when the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was in Dubai.

Arkady Gaydamak (photo credit: REUTERS)
Arkady Gaydamak
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Arcadi Gaydamak, a former mayoral candidate in Jerusalem in 2008 who also played a key role aiding Israelis during conflicts in northern and southern Israel during conflicts in the mid-2000s, is now in the United Arab Emirates supporting a new initiative.
The sometimes controversial Russian-born businessman, speaks out about his support for the Abraham Accords and of coexistence in Dubai.
He recently attended an inaugural event for a Jewish nursery and education center called Mini Miracles when the Sephardi Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef was in Dubai.
In an interview he said that this historic re-establishment of relations between Jews and Muslims in the region has been supported by religious leaders of the two “fraternal peoples, Arabs and Jews.”
He said that in his view “the large majority of population of Muslim countries and particularly the people of the UAE were always friendly and tolerant to all the representatives of all nations and particularly to Jews, as the historical and cultural background of Jews and Muslims is the same.”
Gaydamak served time in prison in France in 2015 for tax fraud in a case that stretched back to 1990s arms deals in Angola. He was released in 2016, according to Le Parisien.
In the UAE, for reasons of economic prosperity, there are many people from other countries who came to live in the area, he says. This is particularly true for people working in modern sectors of the economy, such as finance, insurance, communications. “They are young, educated and successful people.”
His daughter and son-in-law are some of those who have made their home in the UAE. Alec Sellem, his son-in-law, has spearheaded a new Jewish education center. Gaydamak says that the young couple “understood the necessity to establish a high-standard education centre for children.
This centre not only correspondes to the high standard of construction and equipment but also will be in itself the promotion of the development of the relationship between different religions and cultures.”
This educational center is called Mini Miracles and will be a community centre, managed by the Jewish community with support from the UAE. It will be  accessible to people with no distinction of religion or nationality, he says.
Education will be in Arabic, Hebrew, English and other languages. “Young families of the expat communities vitally need this kind of educational centre.” It is an example of peace he says. It also illustrates the tolerance that Muslims are now showing to Jews. 
Gaydamak is supportive of the Abraham Accords. “The [past] conflict between Israel and Arab countries undeniably was a very negative issue for the entire world. It [the Abraham Accords] is the most important political achievement of the century…It is not just another artificial decision of politicians.”
Gaydamak says that the recent peace deal was made possible by US President Donald Trump, Russia President Vladimir Putin, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the Crown Prince of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, and his family.”
Gaydamak’s support for the new center is part a wider more public celebration of Jewish life in the UAE that has taken place in the last weeks during the lead-up to Hanukkah and after.