‘Eager to Walk With the UAE’: President Herzog Opens Israel’s National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai

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President Isaac Herzog is joined by Expo 2020 Dubai Commissioner-General Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan at the Israel pavilion on Israel's national day at the expo, January 31, 2021 (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)
By Aryeh Savir/TPS • 31 January, 2022

Jerusalem, 31 January, 2022 (TPS) — President Isaac Herzog and his wife Michal opened Israel’s national day at Expo 2020 Dubai on Monday as they were welcomed with an honor guard, after which the Israeli flag was raised and the Israeli national anthem HaTikvah was played at the expo’s central plaza.

Herzog is on a two-day official visit to the Gulf country, the first-ever by an Israeli president.

For the first time in history, Israel opened in October a national pavilion at the massive international event held in an Arab country, the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East. The UAE’s invitation to Israel to participate in the Expo was extended in 2018, even before the decision to establish official ties with Israel in the summer of 2020.

The pavilion, established by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, highlights advanced technologies in various fields, including smart transportation, agriculture, water, fintech, medicine, science and space, AI, health, cyber security, renewable energy, tourism, sustainability, and social economy.

Herzog stated that Expo 2020 Dubai is “a huge achievement for all of you, and also a huge achievement for Dubai itself and the brave leaders of this country, whom I have had the privilege of meeting. It is a remarkable celebration of each nation’s unique identity. It is also a reminder of what can be accomplished when we work together to break down borders by connecting minds and imagining a different future.”

“Israel is a country in which obstacles become opportunities, and where the impossible is a tantalizing challenge. This pavilion has provided a phenomenal taste of what we have to offer—from water tech and sustainable agriculture, to public health, to smart cities and ground-breaking solutions for a circular economy. It has also been a stage for the beautiful mosaic of cultures, faiths, music and arts, that make up Israel’s vibrant society. And it has been a practical display of cooperation between nations, of the future we can all imagine. This imagination turned into reality right here, when the UAE and its leaders daringly signed the historic Abraham Accords,” he declared.

The Israeli pavilion was launched under the theme of “Connecting Ideas – Creating the Future” and titled “Towards Tomorrow,” and is focused on “maximum openness – open borders, open minds, open sharing, including a grand 3D spectacle featuring this message.

The Pavilion’s design was inspired by desert dunes, common to both Israel and the Gulf states. The Pavilion is open, with no walls, and showcases openness and a welcoming atmosphere to guests, facilitating exposure to Israeli content even for those who only stand nearby.

The Abraham Accords, the first treaty between Israel and an Arab country in 25 years, “was a decision not only to normalize ties, but to shape a new tomorrow for the next generation of both our nations and of the entire region,” Herzog stated.

It is a short time since the Accords were signed in September 2020, mutual trade has topped $1 billion, more than 120 agreements have been signed, and a $100 million bilateral R&D fund was established. Over 250,000 Israelis have already visited the Emirates.

The President pointed out that “part of the novelty of the UAE is the combination of an innovative spirit and forward-thinking approach, with deep respect for the glorious Muslim tradition. We, the people of Israel, as children of the same Abraham, share your high regard for religious faith bound with ingenuity. We admire the course you have charted. Friends, I hope, and I believe, that more and more nations will soon follow the UAE’s lead and join the Abraham Accords.”

Herzog concluded by stating that Israel is “eager to walk with the UAE, and all the nations here at the Expo towards a brighter, more sustainable and more peaceful tomorrow, for our nations, our region and the entire world.”

“May God bless you and grant you long lives. Thank you very much,” he said in Arabic.

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistence and Commissioner-General of Expo 2020 Dubai, said that “Israel has much to offer on our global platform. And so we are pleased to have you at this engagement with us, at Expo 2020 Dubai.”

192 countries are participating in the World Expo and presenting their pavilions, in which it may present major elements of its own culture, history, and progress, as well as its vision for the future.

The Israeli pavilion has attracted visits from local officials, and heads of state and ministers from around the world. To date, over 600,000 people have visited the pavilion.

After visiting the Expo 2020, Herzog met the Ruler of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum.

The two leaders “discussed various issues, including deepening collaboration in the fields of trade, innovation, tourism, and investment. They also discussed the special common history of Israel and the UAE.”

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