Israel and UAE unveil visa-free travel for citizens

Published: 22 October 2020 - 9:30 a.m.
By: Josh Corder
Israeli and UAE officials have both agreed to facilitate visa-free travel between the two nations for their citizens, making the UAE one of the first Arab countries in history to give Israelis visa-free access.

Dubbed ‘The Abraham Accords’ by The White House, Israel, the UAE and the US signed peace agreements in September this year. For the UAE and Israel, it puts decades of animosity to rest and is hoped to generate new business opportunities for both.

The announcement followed the first commercial GCC flight to Israel, an Etihad Boeing 787 Dreamliner left Tel Aviv on October 19, bringing with it tourism industry leaders, key corporate decision-makers, travel agents, and cargo agents, along with media reps.The return flight will departed from Abu Dhabi on October 21.

Israel prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu promised that visa-free travel will "offer a huge boost for business (and) tourism". It is hoped the new peace deal will bring in between 100,000-250,000 visitors a year for both the UAE and Israel.

While Israel has peace deals with neighbouring Egypt and Jordan, it requires citizens of both countries to obtain visas before entry.

News of the normalisation deal sent ripples across the Middle East’s hospitality and tourism sectors, with many professionals seeing it as a chance to tap into new markets. Abu Dhabi has already introduced an official kosher meal certificate for its hotels, with Dubai opening its first kosher-certified F&B venue recently too.

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