Netanyahu: ‘We’re Flying at Breakneck Speed Into a New Era in the Middle East’

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces a peace agreement to establish diplomatic ties, between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, during a news conference at the prime minster office in Jerusalem, August 13, 2020. Photo: Abir Sultan /Pool via REUTERS/File Photo.

i24 News – “We are flying at breakneck speed into a new era in the Middle East,” Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Thursday as he welcomed the first commercial flight from Dubai to Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu hailed the historic moment, saying that the landing paved the way to many more flights connecting Israel with the UAE, which now has a visa-free travel accord with the Jewish state, and other friendly Gulf states.

“Welcome, and come back again and again!” the PM said.

The flight was operated by the Emirati budget airline flydubai, which is now launching a direct air corridor between the two cities following the normalization of ties between the UAE and Israel

The United Arab Emirates in September signed a landmark US-brokered deal to formalize relations with Israel, the first such agreement by an Arab state in the Gulf.

With their economies hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE and Israel are hoping for rapid dividends from the deal, including an influx of tourists as Dubai enters its winter high season.

“The start of scheduled flights will contribute to economic development and create further opportunities for investment,” flydubai CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith said when the service was announced earlier this month

The Dubai carrier will fly the route twice daily, and Israeli airlines El Al and Israir are both expected to launch their commercial services between the cities next month.

Etihad Airways, based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, has said it will begin flying to Tel Aviv in March 2021.

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