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Israeli Air Force Chief Makes First Visit to Dubai in Show of Regional Cooperation

avatar by Sharon Wrobel

Israeli pavilion at the 2021 Dubai Airshow. Photo: Israeli Ministry of Defense

For the first time, Israeli Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Amikam Norkin visited the United Arab Emirates on Sunday to take part in a conference of international air chiefs held in Dubai.

At the Dubai International Air Chiefs’ Conference (DIAC), Norkin met with UAE Air Force Commander Maj. Gen. Ibrahim Nasser Mohammed al-Alawi, Jordanian Air Force Commander Brig. Gen. Mohammad Fathi Hiyasat, and German Air Force chief Lt. Gen. Ingo Gerhartz, as well as other air force officers in the region.

“We can only build trust through personal contacts,” the German Air Force tweeted on Sunday, commenting on a picture with Norkin, al-Alawi, Hiyasat, and Gerhartz.

Norkin’s visit to the UAE and his participation in the DIAC “demonstrates the developing cooperation between the two air forces,” the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) noted. The Jewish state normalized ties with Arab countries like the UAE and Bahrain last year under the Abraham Accords, brokered with the help of the Trump administration. The historic agreements have helped facilitate coordination between Israeli, American, and Arab forces to address shared threats.

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“This visit serves as an example of the continued development and strengthening between the Israeli and international air forces at the national and strategic level, as well as an example of the growing cooperation between air forces throughout the Middle East,” the IDF said.

The UAE’s al-Alawi arrived in Israel for the first time in late October, as the IDF was undertaking its largest and most advanced multi-national air combat exercise, Blue Flag 2021. At the time, al-Alawi and Norkin discussed future cooperation and strengthening relations between their forces.

During his UAE stay, Norkin also visited Israel’s first national defense pavilion at the Dubai Airshow, which showcases advanced technological products and aerial systems from the country’s defense sector.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz described his country’s partnership with the UAE as a “strategic asset.”

“The participation of the Ministry of Defense in the exhibition reflects the deepening relations between our countries,” Gantz said. “I am positive that this will serve as a launch board for further cooperation.”

Israel’s national pavilion was inaugurated by the head of the Directorate for International Defense Cooperation (SIBAT), Brig. Gen. (Res.) Yair Kulas, along with senior members of Israel’s defense establishment and the managers of participating defense companies, including Elbit Systems, Israel Aerospace Industries, Rafael, and Tomer Astronautics.

“The opening of an Israeli national pavilion in Dubai is a new and historic component in the strengthening relations between Israel and the UAE,” Kulas remarked. “Within the framework of the exhibition, we plan to hold numerous meetings to discuss new areas of collaboration.”

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