(MENAFN- Khaleej Times)
Published: Fri 21 Jan 2022, 3:02 PM
Last updated: Fri 21 Jan 2022, 10:27 PM
Israel's first ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, says he felt at home the moment he arrived in the country.
Hayek came to Abu Dhabi for the first time in October 2021, one year after the signing of the historic Abraham Accords. The envoy brings a wealth of experience in the private and public sector and his appointment by Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid highlights the importance of UAE-Israel bilateral relations.
In an exclusive interview with Khaleej Times, Hayek said the UAE reminded him of his parents and their childhood experiences in Baghdad.
“As a child (my parents) used to speak Arabic at home, my grandmother used to speak Arabic, my grandfather used to speak Arabic and they used to listen to Arabic music. When I came here... I felt that I came home, I came to my parents' neighbourhood,' he said.
The diplomat - who previously headed Israel's hotel association, Export Institute, and Manufacturing Association - said his focus is to promote bilateral business opportunities, particularly focusing on small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
“We need to deepen (the relationship) and widen it to as many people as we can. I'm talking about the youth, we need to take care of the youth and to bring this peace to them as this is their peace, their future,' he said.
'The second sector when we are talking about business is the SMEs. We need to do everything we can to bring this peace to SMEs, to let them understand it, to let them use it, to let them work with each other, and to let them create business with each other.'
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While a free trade agreement is being finalised between the UAE and Israel, the ambassador revealed that both governments have committed to establishing a first joint R&D fund.
Another major aspect of bilateral relations will be driven by tourism on both sides, and Israel is waiting to welcome Emirati tourists, Hayek said.
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