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Israel signs first agricultural agreements with the UAE

Countries agree to cooperate on research and innovation, including development of strains of produce suitable for growing in desert conditions

Agriculture Minister Oded Forer and UAE Minister of Food and Water Security Miriam Al-Mahiri sign a deal in Tel Aviv on July 13, 2021. (Moshe Hermon/GPO)
Agriculture Minister Oded Forer and UAE Minister of Food and Water Security Miriam Al-Mahiri sign a deal in Tel Aviv on July 13, 2021. (Moshe Hermon/GPO)

Israel on Tuesday signed its first cooperation agreements with the United Arab Emirates in the field of agriculture, further expanding the 2020 Abraham Accords normalizing relations between the two countries.

Agriculture Minister Oded Forer and UAE Minister of Food and Water Security Mariam Al-Muhairi signed the deal in Tel Aviv to cooperate on research and innovation, including the development of strains of produce suitable for growing in desert conditions, as well as other advancements in the fields of water management and irrigation.

“The United Arab Emirates and Israel share many challenges when it comes to food security, and we are cooperating to find innovative and feasible solutions to these challenges,” said Al-Muhairi at the ceremony.

Forer said the agreement was “a great opportunity for cooperation between the two countries, where agriculture is critical for providing fresh food to the residents. We have sown the seeds here for many future projects.”

The signing of the agreement came nearly a year after Israel and the UAE announced they would normalize ties as part of the US-brokered Abraham Accords.

Completing the normalization of diplomatic relations, the UAE is slated to officially open its embassy in Tel Aviv Wednesday morning in the presence of its Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja and Israeli President Isaac Herzog.

Emirati Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Sultan Al Olama (L) and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid (R) at the opening of Israel’s new consulate in Dubai, on June 30, 2021. (Shlomi Amsalem/GPO)

In late June, Foreign Minister Yair Lapid officially inaugurated Israel’s consulate in Dubai, calling it a center of dialogue and cooperation.

He had opened Israel’s embassy in Abu Dhabi the day before, hailing the “historic moment” as a time “we chose peace over war.”

While in Abu Dhabi, Lapid went out of his way to thank former prime minister and political rival Benjamin Netanyahu, whom he called “the architect of the Abraham Accords and who worked tirelessly to bring them about.” He also expressed his gratitude to former US president Donald Trump and current US President Joe Biden.

The UAE was represented at the Dubai ceremony by Emirati Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence Omar Sultan Al Olama.

Lapid was in the UAE for the first official visit by an Israeli minister to the Gulf state, although the country has unofficially hosted Israeli ministers in the past, including former transportation minister Israel Katz and former sports minister Miri Regev.

Israel and the Emirates announced in August 2020 that they would normalize diplomatic relations, bringing over a decade of covert ties into the open. Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco later also joined the US-brokered Abraham Accords, and other countries were also rumored to be in talks, though none have come to fruition yet.

Lazar Berman contributed to this report. 

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