First Official UAE Delegation to Visit Israel
JNS.org – The first official delegation from the United Arab Emirates to Israel is slated to arrive on Tuesday.
The visit seeks to advance the practical aspects of the peace treaty Jerusalem and Abu Dhabi signed in Washington on Sept. 15.
One of the main issues on the agenda is the influx of Gulf tourists to Israel, particularly to Jerusalem and the Temple Mount.
The site is home to al-Aqsa Mosque, the third holiest site in Islam after the Ka’aba in Mecca and the Prophet’s Mosque in Medina.
“Jerusalem will host between 100,000 and 250,000 Muslim tourists a year—they dream of visiting al-Aqsa,” said Jerusalem Deputy Mayor Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, who visited the UAE last week.
The deputy mayor, who also oversees the city’s tourism industry, said, “Just as we developed Christian tourism, we plan to work to develop Muslim tourism. There is a huge turnaround in the works.”
However, not everyone is in favor of advancing Muslim tourism in Israel.
The Palestinian Authority castigated a UAE economic delegation that visited Israel over the weekend at the invitation of Israeli irrigation trailblazer Netafim, and the officials were even accosted by Palestinians after coming out of a prayer service in al-Aqsa Mosque.
Fatah’s Jerusalem office even went as far as issued a statement saying that the UAE officials’ visit to the site “was no different than a visit by settlers or the soldiers of the occupation. They are not wanted here.”