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Netanyahu said concerned Israeli tourists will misbehave in UAE

Ahead of launch of direct flights, government reportedly highlights need for code of conduct for travelers planning to visit Gulf nation, citing cultural differences

The pool and beach at the Atlantis Hotel with the skyline of the Dubai Marina visible in the distance in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)
The pool and beach at the Atlantis Hotel with the skyline of the Dubai Marina visible in the distance in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, July 14, 2020. (AP Photo/Jon Gambrell)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and other ministers are concerned about potential misunderstandings and incidents stemming from cultural differences between Israelis and Emiratis, ahead of next month’s launching of direct flights between the countries, a report said Sunday.

Netanyahu has advocated the publication of a “code of conduct” of sorts for Israeli tourists about to visit the United Arab Emirates and make use of the newly signed normalization agreement with the Gulf state, the Kan public broadcaster reported.

The unsourced report brought excerpts from Sunday’s cabinet meeting.

Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi reportedly noted that a public explanation on how to behave in the UAE was needed since the Emiratis “are very sensitive and Israelis sometimes don’t know how to behave.” He expressed fear that Israelis will show their “ugly side” and potentially cause diplomatic damage.

Tourism and Strategic Affairs Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen said her team had already brought forward a proposal for educational booklets with “do and don’ts,” when Netanyahu intervened.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visits a new coronavirus lab at Ben Gurion International Airport, near Tel Aviv, November 9, 2020. (Ohad Zwigenberg/Pool via AP)

“That’s very important,” he said. “I suggest that you really educate the Israelis.” He said he wanted to avoid calling it a code of conduct, urging a different branding.

Several Emirati airlines have said they will start regular flights to and from Israel starting November 26.

Earlier this month, Abu Dhabi gave its final okay to a visa exemption program with Israel.

The agreement still must be ratified by the Israeli cabinet and Knesset before it enters into force. The Knesset last month approved Israel’s normalization deal with the UAE by an overwhelming majority, all but ensuring that the visa program will be confirmed in the near future.

Despite that, with a few exceptions, non-Israeli tourists are currently not permitted to enter Israel under coronavirus restrictions, although the UAE is classified as a “green” country under Health Ministry’s regulations, meaning that travelers returning to Israel are not required to quarantine.

Last week, a plane by low-cost airline flydubai touched down in Israel for the first time, ahead of the state-owned Emirati airline’s launch of direct flights between Tel Aviv and Dubai.

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