Israel is aiming to attract around 100,000 tourists from the United Arab Emirates (UAE) annually, Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said during a virtual press conference in Dubai. Addressing the Minister said: “Tourism is key to building a lasting peace between countries, and Israel looks forward to welcoming travellers from the UAE.”
Direct flights between Dubai and Tel Aviv have already been launched, Xinhua news agency reported.
Dubai-based budget carrier flydubai has started operating 14 flights a week offering a double daily service between Dubai International Airport and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport.
Israel’s Israir, meanwhile, was the first Israeli airline to operate a commercial flight to Dubai.
Farkash-Hacohen is expecting there will be 25 weekly flights between UAE and Israel beginning next month.
She added that “the visa-free entry for citizens of the two countries will take effect by end of this month or early January, and this will reduce the bureaucracy when visiting the two countries”.
The UAE and Israel signed a mutual visa waiver agreement, enabling Emirati and Israeli travellers to obtain visa-on-arrival.
At the moment, however, Farkash-Hacohen noted Israel is still limiting the influx of tourists due to the pandemic.
“We grade countries based on their level of Covid-19 infection,” she added.
Travellers returning from “red” countries (those with high levels of Covid-19 cases) are required to quarantine for two weeks upon arrival in Israel.
The Health Ministry, meanwhile, currently lists the UAE as a “green” area.
The development comes as Israel and the UAE agreed to formally normalise their relations in mid-August and signed a normalisation agreement at the White House on September 15.
The Arab states of the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco have recognised Israel in recent months.
Also on Wednesday, the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange (ADX) and the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange (TASE) signed an agreement to explore potential opportunities for collaboration and cross-listing of securities, a state media report said.
The MoU will facilitate the development of channels of communication to foster co-operation between the two exchanges and contribute to the growth of the capital markets in the UAE and Israel.
This was the first time an Arab exchange has entered into a commercial relationship with the state of Israel, according to the media report.