JERUSALEM(VosIzNeias) — Dubai, the United Arab Emirates biggest and most cosmopolitan city, which also houses the tallest building in the world, will be the official host of the 2020 World Expo. To mark the international nature of the occasion, Dubai is expected for the first time to allow tourists holding Israeli passports to attend the 6-month event and may even make a permanent allowance for Israeli tourism, according to a report by the Ynet site in Israel.
Until now, Dubai, despite boasting a tiny Jewish community which has its own synagogue, was nothing more than a lucrative, unattainable vacation destination for Israelis. However all this is due to change during the 2020 World Expo, which is an international exhibition designed to demonstrate unique achievements of nations. The Expo takes place once every five years, lasts for up to six months, attracts millions of visitors from all over the world, and is considered by many to be the “Olympic Games” of innovation.
Most of the world’s countries take part in the event where they showcase their country’s newest innovations in order to encourage shared cultural experiences and technological advancements, among other things.
In October 2020, the world-famous event will take place in the city of Dubai, the most advanced Arab city in the world and the capital of the Emirate of Dubai, one of the seven emirates that make up the UAE. Israel also have a pavilion at the Expo where it will present its latest achievements in the sphere of innovation and sustainability.
The Expo runs from October 20, 2020, to April 20, 2021 and is expected to attract some 25 million visitors to the oil-rich emirate, which is famous for its luxury resorts and hotels and opulent shopping malls.
“Israeli and the UAE’s authorities have been in talks for awhile, in order to allow those with Israeli passports to attend the Expo in Dubai,” a source within the Expo’s management team told Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahronot. “These talks are happening because both sides want to see the Expo turn into the biggest exhibition in the world, the UAE invested tremendous amounts of money and thought into the event and they want Israelis to be welcomed as well.”
Another source said that the Expo in Dubai could be a great pilot run during which Israeli tourists would be allowed into the country, and if it turns out to be a success, the UAE “might leave its doors open to Israeli tourists permanently.”
Mohamed Khater, assistant director for tourism development in Ras Al Khaimah, a UAE emirate, confirmed that Israelis will be allowed to visit the Expo.
“I believe, God willing, they will come to visit also after the exhibition,” he said. “Already now hundreds of Israelis trickle into the country and we will be glad to host all of them.”
Even though Israel and the UAE have no official diplomatic relations, the two countries do share economic ties and Israelis are allowed into the country if they hold a foreign (non-Israeli) passport or a special entry visa. As part of the growing relations between the two countries, Israel opened a representation office in the UAE’s capital, Abu Dhabi, in 2015, in order to advance technological innovations between the two states. Senior Israeli ministers have openly visited the country in recent years and last year, the UAE officially recognized its small Jewish community as part of Dubai’s population. In the same year, Israel’s national anthem was played at a judo tournament in Abu Dhabi when its team member won a gold medal.
According to an American source affiliated with the UAE authorities of the United Arab Emirates, the country doesn’t just want the Israeli tourists, they also want the innovators and are therefore expected to make the process of entering the state much easier than previously for those possessing Israeli passports.