On Sept 15th, we commemorated a significant milestone for the Middle East and North Africa: three years since the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Bahrain, under the auspices of the US government. Three months later, in December 2020, Morocco joined the process, re-establishing diplomatic ties with Israel.
These groundbreaking agreements have not only reshaped the region but have also paved the way for expanded trade, investments, and partnerships beyond its borders. They have ushered in a new era of normalisation and peace that not only connects governments but also brings people together, despite differences in languages, religious beliefs, cultures and more.
As of now, we have seen a mere glimpse of the immense potential for regional cooperation that lies ahead, with the scope of trade between Israel and other Middle Eastern countries increasing 74% between 2021 and 2022. An exemplary case is the thriving Israel-UAE relationship, fortified by a Free Trade Agreement inked in March 2023. The results have been swift and remarkable, with trade between the two countries surpassing a staggering US$1.8 billion in the first seven months of 2023. A parallel surge has been witnessed in tourism, a sector previously limited, with Israeli visits to the UAE surging by 172% in 2021 and weekly flights between the nations numbering around 75 by the end of 2022.
The influence of these accords extends to neighbouring countries as well. A notable instance is the Prosperity Green & Blue agreement involving Israel, the UAE, and Jordan. This collaborative effort envisages the establishment of a solar field in Jordan to provide 600 megawatts of green electricity to Israel, reciprocated by an Israeli desalination plant delivering 200 million cubic meters of water to Jordan.
In a region where 65% of the population is under 30 years old, providing the younger generation with education and employment opportunities is a key factor in preventing instability. To that end, youth delegations have been initiated, encouraging bonds between tomorrow's leaders and laying the foundation for cooperation in the decades to come. Delegations in which young influencers experience each other's cultures and visit important religious and historic sites, while focusing on community building, are an effective tool in strengthening ties. Importantly, the youth of the relevant countries have subscribed wholeheartedly to the principles of acceptance, cooperation and peace highlighted in the accords, communicating to the region that these ideals are the building blocks of the future.
A remarkable illustration of these initiatives fostering mutual understanding is the incorporation of Holocaust education into the UAE school curriculum after Emirati Foreign Minister, Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust Remembrance Center in Jerusalem.
Moves such as this underscore the profound impact of the Abraham Accords in promoting coexistence and religious tolerance.
The Abraham Accords illuminate the potential of unity to inspire and create opportunities. They offer a tantalizing glimpse into a future where peace and cooperation can flourish, transforming the Middle East into a region of hope and progress.
As we celebrate this milestone, we envision more nations joining this noble endeavour, collectively forging a brighter and more promising tomorrow for the well-being of our children and generations to come.
Ms Orna Sagiv is Ambassador of Israel to Thailand.