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UAE opens first embassy in Israel in new 'sign of friendship'

By
Zarrin Ahmed
Officials participate in the opening ceremony of the new embassy of the United Arab Emirates at the Tel Aviv stock market building in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday. Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE
Officials participate in the opening ceremony of the new embassy of the United Arab Emirates at the Tel Aviv stock market building in Tel Aviv, Israel, on Wednesday. Photo by Abir Sultan/EPA-EFE

July 14 (UPI) -- The United Arab Emirates inaugurated its first embassy in Israel on Wednesday -- two weeks after Israel opened an embassy in the Middle Eastern nation.

The UAE Embassy is located at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange building.

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The openings mark a new phase in diplomatic relations between the two countries, which began about a year ago. The first commercial flight between the two countries took off last November.

The neighboring countries announced last August that they agreed to normalize ties. Since then, planned visits have been held back for various reasons, including health issues and diplomatic disagreements.

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"It is a great honor to open the embassy here. Ten months ago our two countries signed the Abraham Accords with a vision of dignity, prosperity and peace for the two peoples," UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khajah said at the ceremony Wednesday, according to The Times of Israel.

Newly elected Israeli President Isaac Herzog hailed the opening as an important moment in the Middle East.

"This blessed process cannot stop," he said, according to The Times of Israel. "In my recent telephone conversations with leaders of the region, I again understand that we have more partners and allies in this mission than we thought."

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The ceremony ended with Al Khaja opening trading at the stock exchange.

"The UAE and Israel are innovative nations that will harness innovation for the future of the people of the country and the region," he said during the ceremony, according to The Jerusalem Post. "The people of the region are hoping for a new, prosperous Middle East."

Herzog said the openings are a "sign of friendship" between the UAE and Israel, and that both nations have much in common.

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Foreign minister Yair Lapid, who is in COVID-19 quarantine, visited the UAE last month.

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