First plane with Israeli tourists lands in UAE after deal

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Malak Harb
| Associated press
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – The first flight carrying Israeli tourists to the United Arab Emirates landed in the city-state of Dubai on Sunday, the latest sign of the standardization agreement between the two countries. FlyDubai flight FZ8194 touched down at Dubai International Airport just after 5:40 p.m., bringing tourists to the skyscraper-strewn city after an almost three-hour journey. The low-cost carrier sent one of its Boeing 737s to Tel Aviv’s Ben-Gurion International Airport earlier Sunday morning to pick up passengers.The flight crossed Saudi Arabia and then the waters of the Persian Gulf to reach the United Arab Emirates, a federation of seven sheikhs that is also home to Abu Dhabi.

The flight, organized by an Israeli company called Gaya Tours, saw Jewish Israelis and a number of Arab Israelis on board. Many Jewish Israelis wore kippah headgear.

Many on the flight said it was not their first time to the UAE, but all said they were delighted to be in Dubai. The tourists were joined by a number of businessmen eager for opportunities in the Emirates.

“There is no doubt that normalization between Israel and the UAE will bring good things and benefit the Arabs inside Israel. There is no doubt about it, ”said Hussein Suleiman, head of a delegation of Arab businessmen on board the flight. “We support this agreement and standardization, and we are here today to normalize standardization in reality.”

The arrival of tourists comes as Dubai in particular tries to revive its vital tourism industry amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. The UAE and Israel have agreed to launch regular commercial flights between their countries soon, while other recent flights have carried commercial and government delegations.

FlyDubai plans to begin flights to Tel Aviv later this month. The airline described Sunday’s flight as a “commercial charter flight” for inbound tourists, without giving details.

It comes as Israel and the United Arab Emirates, which had maintained secret contacts for years, exposed their diplomatic ties to the light of day. He signed a normalization agreement with Israel alongside Bahrain in a White House ceremony in September, making them the third and fourth Arab countries to currently have peace with Israel.

But while Egypt and Jordan have previously signed peace accords, the UAE has said it plans to have a “warm” peace with Israel. The UAE also hopes the deal will support its efforts to buy F-35 advanced fighter jets from the United States. The agreements also unite three countries that remain suspicious of Iran.

However, the accords failed to address the decades-long conflict between Israel and the Palestinians, who view the pacts as a stab in the back of their fellow Arabs and a betrayal of their cause for a Palestinian state. The deals, which were seen as a foreign policy victory for President Donald Trump ahead of the November 3 election, are now facing the new administration of President-elect Joe Biden.

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