DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) – This was a scene that would have been unimaginable only a few months ago. As the Emeritus drifted in white veneer and headdresses, the Israeli bride and groom were draped over the groom’s groom’s shoulders and led to the dance floor, where dozens of people joined the Hebrews as they roamed and sang.
Noomi did not throw off some of the normal marriage between Anumirad and Simon David Benhamou in an epidemic that shut down their country and devastated the world. They were roaming Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, which, like most parts of the Arab world — had been off-limits to Israeli passport holders for decades.
The pair were among thousands of Israelis who normalized relations for the UAE in a successful US-brokered deal between the two countries in December.
Israel’s latest virus-induced lockdown, which began earlier this week, temporarily cooled travel fever. But the Israelis planned a dashed holiday, now stuck at home, in the hope that the vaccination campaign would help prevent the outbreak and that a trip to Dubai would soon be possible.
The charm of Dubai, the UAE’s skyscraper commercial center with sandy beaches and marbled malls, has already proved powerful. Unaffected by the number of Israeli tourists, seeking relief and relief from the virus restrictions of the month, and his government’s warnings about potential Iranian attacks In the region, weddings, bar mitzvahs, and the eight-day Jewish festivals of Hanukkah are celebrated with large celebrations.
“I expected to feel very uncomfortable here,” said 25-year-old Azerrad, an Israeli bride from the hotel ballroom. But all of her favorite wedding venues announced strict restrictions on gatherings to check the spread of the virus. Organizing parties in Dubai at 200.
For the delay in marriage, the choice was obvious.
“I think it’s Tel Aviv,” Azerad said of Dubai. “I have heard Hebrew everywhere.”
His French father, Igal Azared, said he always hides his skull in fear of an attack on the streets of Paris. But his Kippa gaze in Dubai “inspires Emeritus to come upstairs and call me ‘Shalom’,” he said.
The dizzying pace of normalization has also prevented skepticism. Despite the countries’ long-standing ties, the UAE considered Israel a political pariah over the decades-old Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The modest migrant Jewish community in the Union of Seven Sheikhs kept a low profile and prayed in an astonished villa.
But according to estimates by travel agents, the arrival of 70,000 Israeli tourists changed everything from 15 nonstop daily flights in December. A 12-foot (3.5 m) Hanukkah candelabra appeared beneath the world’s tallest tower, the Burj Khalifa, where Jews light candles and take a selfie in the form of Hebrew songs scattered throughout the massive fountain city.
The Friday night Shabbat meal of the Jewish community has turned into a celebration in two cavernous banquet halls with spillover seating for Israeli visitors. “Made in Israel” signs have accumulated in Dubai’s chain grocery and liquor stores, which now sell alcohol from the Israeli-annexed Golan Heights. According to the Dubai-based commodity company, wine, honey and tahini from the Israeli settlements occupied by the West Bank will hit the shelves in the coming weeks and will be Israeli products.
On social media, a visit to the United Arab Emirates has become a status symbol for Israelis who display pictures of themselves in Dubai. A dozen hotels across the city say they have booked thousands of Israeli travelers and hosted several Israeli business conferences, holiday parties and daytime weddings. Israeli singers have planned a concert for the spring. Kosher catering companies from the United Kingdom and elsewhere have set up shop in the United Arab Emirates. According to Rabbi Mendel Dutchman, who helped run the country’s Jewish community center, it is known as the country’s first Jewish cemetery and a bathhouse.
“It was unbelievable, it was a tsunami,” said Geralts chief Mark Feldman, in contrast to Israel’s “cold peace” with Israel and Jordan. “Dubai became an oasis for Israelis in the midst of an epidemic.”
For weeks in December, the only other countries where Israel could land a 14-day home quarantine without a return were Rwanda and Seychelles. Dubai is open for business and tourism, with some restrictions outside the social-away home and outside the mask. At weddings and other ceremonies, guests often do not wear masks.
Even as Israelis have heard of the warm embrace of their hosts, very little has been heard of the UAE’s 180-degree shift of its 1 million citizens, who were provided free housing, education and health care And they live separately from the vast countrymen of their country. The hereditary rulers of Shekhad suppress dissent. Even dramatic political decisions are met with familiarity.
Ahmad al-Mansuri, an Emirati museum director who has welcomed dozens of Israeli visitors to his collection of ancient maps and manuscripts, including a fourth-century Torah scroll, admitted “some cultural misconceptions among the population Which are actually dealt before each other. . “
“Every Emirati has their own psyche about it,” he said when asked about the policy reversal that Palestinians saw as a betrayal of their quest for a kingdom on the land occupied by Israel.
But he said that Dubai, a city run by millions of workers in Africa, Asia and the Middle East, easily absorbed the waves of expats, including countries locked in bitter conflicts with each other.
Despite initial concerns about Iranian threats and diplomatic collapse from tourist misconduct, travel agents say only minor hiccups have occurred. The owner of Privilege Tourism, Yaniv Stenberg, said that Israeli tourists, riding on a bike, got stuck in sand dunes on a quad bike. He said some people were arrested for taking photographs in a mosque. Others were reprimanded for kissing in public, a crime punishable under the UAE’s Islamic legal system with jail time.
But as the virus hit Israel and pictures of raucous unaffiliated parties in Dubai were circulating on social media, Israel’s Ministry of Health and Foreign Affairs were reportedly raging over whether the UAE was allowed a high-infection zone. Be classified as, which would require quarantine upon arrival in Israel, perhaps marrying the new courtship of the countries.
Within days, the point was muted. Israel entered its third lockdown on Sunday. By then, the newlyweds, Azerrad and Benhamou, had returned home.
Referring to the recent normalization agreements of Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco, “Aliav Benjamin, an Israeli Foreign Ministry official, said,” COVID has really hindered us, it is unfortunate for all new friends in the region from whom We want to meet. ” “Vaccines, however, will be game-changers.”