The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is preparing for a wave of Israeli and Jewish tourism: Abu Dhabi's Ministry of Tourism and Culture, one of the seven emirates, has sent a letter to hotel and tourism chain managers in the sheikhdoms, advising them to prepare for the arrival of Israelis, including kosher food on room service menus and all food and beverage outlets in their establishments.
A senior emirate official told "Globes" that the assumption was that Israelis holding foreign passports and Jews from around the world, primarily from the US, would arrive in the UAE during the Sukkot holiday. The addition of kosher food would add hundreds of thousands more bookings.
This development goes in tandem with the direction taken by brothers Ofir and Matan Noa Bar-Noy, founders of the Emirates-Israel Investments Group, which is intended exactly for this purpose. It was established at lightning speed shortly after the normalization announcement, and plans to be a bridging and support agency for Israeli companies seeking business connections in the UAE.
Former Ministry of Communications director general, Nati Cohen, is an advisor to the company, which also has also partnered with Canadian-Israeli businessman Bernard Sand.
The founders tell "Globes" of holding a series of meetings with representatives of UAE investment funds, banks and import companies, at which Emirates-Israel presented a range of Israeli companies seeking to sell products or interested in investing.
In a call from Dubai, Ofir Bar-Noy says that with the onset of peace it was clear that the opportunity had arrived, and this was the moment to enter.
During their meetings in recent days, several areas of interest and insights have emerged, most notably the matter of kosher food. Both government officials and tourism companies expressed their wish to receive and study information about making hotels kosher for religious Jewish guests. There are several ways this can be done, from making parts in the dining rooms and kitchens kosher, to small hotels that will be completely kosher - just like Israeli hotels.
According to Bar-Noy, they have already received detailed proposals for contact with large Israeli tourism companies for bringing Israeli tourists to the country, and adapting tourism services to their needs, including kosher food. "We have two or three Israeli companies that meet these requirements - and we will connect at least one of them with the entrepreneurs and government officials we spoke to in the various principalities. One of the major companies here has already signed a representation agreement with us for Israel. They expect masses of tourists to come." Matan Bar-Noy adds that one proposal that was raised is to rent an entire hotel for Israeli-Jewish tourism during the upcoming holidays. If the expected wave of tourism materializes, there is complete willingness to do this.
Obtaining a visa for Israelis is still complicated
It should be noted that this is a race against the clock, as the agreement has not yet been signed, obtaining entry visas for Israelis is complicated, and tourist travel is not among the reasons Israelis may be granted visas.
The Foreign Ministries on both sides have already received many requests for visas, even before the official missions are opened. These could perhaps be issued through another Arab country’s representative in Israel so as to take advantage of the Sukkot holiday, which is one of the peak seasons for outbound Israeli tourism.
en.globes.co.il - on September 10, 2020 © Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2020