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UAE and Israel working on direct flights over Saudi Arabia

August 17, 2020 at 2:57 pm

Israeli El Al airline Boeing 737-958 aircraft at Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv [JACK GUEZ/AFP/Getty Images]

A businessman from the United Arab Emirates said yesterday he is currently in talks with Israel’s third-largest airline Israir to establish direct flights between Israel and the UAE, reported The Jerusalem Post.

In an interview with Israel’s Channel 13, Khalaf Ahmad Al Habtoor, an Emirati real estate tycoon, said, “That’s true, my team and the Israeli team, there were talks this afternoon approaching each other regarding commercial airlines and charters for tourists,” he said.

Israir CEO Uri Sirkishas also announced yesterday that he has already begun the process of obtaining a landing permit to operate direct flights between Tel Aviv and the UAE.

He told Israeli public broadcaster Kan that Dubai, in particular, was a “very, very attractive” destination, predicting the emirate would prove popular with Israeli tourists and business people.

This comes after US President Donald Trump announced last week that he had brokered a peace deal between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv which would see the two establish diplomatic, trade and commercial ties.

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“It is a great decision taken by Israeli leaders and UAE leaders, I mean, what they have done, really, it is great,” Al Habtoor added. “This will make a huge difference between our two countries and for other countries that will follow soon.”

Moreover, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that Israel is preparing for direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, to the UAE as part of its normalisation deal.

“We are currently working on enabling direct flights, over Saudi Arabia, between Tel Aviv and Dubai and Abu Dhabi,” Netanyahu told reporters, estimating flight time at “about three hours, just like to Rome”.

According to The Jerusalem Post, the Foreign Ministry confirmed that they have staff on the ground searching for a site in Abu Dhabi for the Israeli Embassy.

Abu Dhabi said the deal was an effort to stave of Tel Aviv’s planned annexation of the occupied West Bank, however, opponents believe normalisation efforts have been in the offing for many years as Israeli officials have made official visits to the UAE and attended conferences in the country which had no diplomatic or other ties with Israel.