Israeli President Isaac Herzog is scheduled to meet with top Emirati officials, including Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
Israel’s figurehead president has arrived at the United Arab Emirates in the first official visit by the country’s head of state, the latest sign of deepening ties between the two nations as tensions rise in the region.
Shortly before takeoff on Sunday, President Isaac Herzog said his visit sought to bring “a blessing of peace and a message of peace to the entire region.”
His office said he would be meeting top officials including Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the de facto Emirati leader.
The President is also set to meet members of UAE’s small but growing Jewish expat community.
He also was expected to visit Expo 2020, the world’s fair in Dubai, where Israel has hosted a series of events at its national pavilion.
Beginning the first visit by an Israeli president in the United Arab Emirates. We were delighted and deeply moved by the warm welcome in Abu Dhabi by UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh @ABZayed. 🇮🇱🤝🇦🇪 pic.twitter.com/Mgpqq3vm3h
— יצחק הרצוג Isaac Herzog (@Isaac_Herzog) January 30, 2022
The UAE and Israel normalised relations in the fall of 2020, part of a series of US-brokered diplomatic deals between Israel and Arab states.
Arab states had long avoided formal relations with Israel over its decades-old conflict with the Palestinians.
Shared enmity of Iran and mutual fears over its nuclear program helped push the UAE and Israel to formalise relations after years of clandestine ties.
Palestinian leaders have condemned the normalisation deal as a betrayal of their cause for statehood.
Herzog plays a largely ceremonial role as a national unifier in Israel’s parliamentary system, where the prime minister holds the most power.
Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett last month made his first official visit to the Gulf Arab sheikhdom and discussed strengthening relations on a number of fronts with Mohamed bin Zayed.