Meaningful relations between the UAE and Israel - comment

Emirati-Israeli relations are very different from those with other Arab countries.

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, September 1, 2020 (photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, September 1, 2020
(photo credit: Lahav Harkov)
Since the UAE-Israel peace agreement was signed, there has been much speculation about the future of these relations. Are we moving toward a cold peace of the kind established by the peace treaties between Israel and other Arab sides? Will relations gradually normalize at the popular and not only official level?
I have to say that Emirati-Israeli relations are very different from those with other Arab countries. It’s not because the UAE has not experienced a direct military conflict with Israel, as some may say. The UAE is an Arab country that has taken a stand and strongly supported so-called “confrontation states” that have had wars with Israel. No doubt about that.
Besides, the UAE has always defended the rights of the Palestinian people. So talking about difference in the case of the UAE has nothing to do with the military conflict with Israel. It is about the specificity of the UAE, born of its experience and model of development and modernization.
Its bold development plans and aspirations for global competitiveness are integral to the UAE Vision 2021 and the UAE Centennial 2071 strategy. The promising visions set out specific goals and operational programs to meet their targets on schedule.
To that end, the UAE wishes to build bridges of cooperation and communication with nations around the world in order to benefit from their expertise and progress in various sectors. Israel, having an edge in many industrial and technical sectors, is no exception to this rule. Without working with Israeli industries, experts and companies, it would simply be hard to afford such technology.
Israel, having an edge in many industrial and technical sectors, is no exception to this rule. Without working with Israeli industries, experts and companies, it would simply be hard to afford such technology.
The UAE, with its ambitious leadership, has a long tradition of breaking new ground. Sky is the limit, as HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, emir of Dubai, vice-president of the UAE, and HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, crown prince of Abu Dhabi, deputy supreme commander of the armed forces, say.
This explains its forward-thinking approach in dealing with various files and issues. And this sums up its search for creative alternatives to the complex Arab-Israeli relations, without backing away from unwavering support for the Palestinian people’s cause, by putting forward a realistic solution that meets the UAE’s strategic interests and offers the Palestinians a way out through the wall of silence that has been set up in recent times.
It follows that the normalization of relations between the UAE and Israel has taken on momentum since the early days of the signing of the agreement. Both sides have created formal cooperation frameworks through business-to-business and sector-to-sector agreements. This was not the case with other Arab countries.
The UAE has clear strategic aims within this agreement. It has no interest to keep it on the back burner or to make a cold peace. There was a mutual desire to put in place mechanisms for cooperation to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus through scientific cooperation aimed at saving human lives, regardless of origins.
There was a mutual desire to put in place mechanisms for cooperation to develop a vaccine against the novel coronavirus through scientific cooperation aimed at saving human lives, regardless of origins.
Apart from this, the characteristic attributes of the Emirati society, such as openness and acceptance of others and the culture of coexistence, have been well anchored in the collective culture since the creation of the State of Union.
Hundreds of thousands of migrant workers participate in the construction of our renaissance. The citizens of the UAE deal daily with foreigners of more than 200 different nationalities in the East and West, of various races and faiths, without any sensitivity or discrimination.
All of this is to say that the situation in the UAE differs from that of other Arab countries. There has been lively popular support in the UAE for the official move to set up ties with Israel.
Popular confidence in sensible political decision making abounds. The reason for this sentiment is the accumulated experiences of the state, which have brought prosperity and enormous progress in a host of areas.
AS SUCH, the UAE ranks among the most competitive countries according to various development indicators. The country has also embarked on Mars exploration with the successful launch of the Hope probe. The UAE’s debut in the global space exploration race is an unprecedented step in the region and the Arab world. The UAE is now one of only nine countries worldwide with a space program to explore the red planet.
All credit is due to the deep relationship between the Emirati leadership and people grounded on unfailing confidence and unflinching loyalty. Emiratis strongly back normalization with Israel as a strategic choice for the state.
I believe this clears the way for Israel’s normalization with other Gulf and Arab countries in the foreseeable future. People in the Gulf, most of whom are youth, are open-minded. Their young people are highly educated and share different value systems from their peers in other countries.
Creating networks of strategic interests between the UAE and Israel should inspire other Gulf and Arab countries to do likewise. Everyone knows the relevance of the UAE’s choice, which will have strategic benefits on its regionally and globally renowned development model.

The writer is a UAE political analyst and former Federal National Council candidate.