Orthodox Union to supervise kosher food certification in UAE

US-based organization says it will oversee dietary regulations, alongside local Jewish community, following request by Emirati leadership

El Al's airliner, carrying a US-Israeli delegation to the UAE, landing on the tarmac at the Abu Dhabi airport, August 31, 2020. (Karim SAHIB / AFP)
El Al's airliner, carrying a US-Israeli delegation to the UAE, landing on the tarmac at the Abu Dhabi airport, August 31, 2020. (Karim SAHIB / AFP)

The Orthodox Union said on Tuesday that it will be the leading kosher certification agency in the United Arab Emirates.

The leadership of the UAE requested that the Orthodox Union take up the position after it handled kosher food during the visit to the UAE by an Israeli and US delegation last week.

Orthodox Union Kosher, which the group says is the world’s largest kosher certification body, will oversee the implementation of the dietary regulations in partnership with the UAE’s local Jewish community.

It will be responsible for kosher food at hotels in the UAE, and at events, including Expo 2020, a major international exhibition that will be held in Dubai starting in October 2021.

“As the Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates continues to grow and due to the influx of Jewish tourists, there is a need for kosher food and a certification that is internationally known,” said Orthodox Union Kosher CEO Rabbi Menachem Genack. “We thank the UAE government for reaching out to us to provide this service and are looking forward to partnering with the local Jewish community to provide kosher food and certification.”

Rabbi Yissachar Krakowski of OUK flew from Israel to the UAE to facilitate all of the kosher food approval for the Israeli delegation last week.

Krakowski has experience with kosher catering in the Gulf, having organized kosher meals for the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations when they visited the UAE and Saudi Arabia.

The group is one of the leading Orthodox Jewish organizations in the US and says that its kosher certification agency verifies over 1 million ingredients in over 100 countries.

A Thursday report said that a number of hotels in the UAE will start to offer kosher food.

According to the English-language Khaleej Times, the Habtoor Hospitality group has teamed up with Elli’s Kosher Kitchen to provide food for guests at hotels including the Hilton Dubai, V Hotel, Habtoor Palace Dubai, LXR Hotel and Resorts, Habtoor Grand Resort, Autograph Collection LLC, Metropolitan Hotel, and Habtoor Polo Resort.

Elli’s Kosher Kitchen, a Dubai-based catering business owned by Elli Kriel, was responsible for food served to Israeli journalists and some members of a US delegation who visited Abu Dhabi.

Israel and the UAE announced on August 13 that they were establishing full diplomatic relations.

Jared Kushner, US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law and adviser, led the delegation that visited Abu Dhabi last week on the first-ever direct Israeli flight from Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. Also on the trip were US National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien and his Israeli counterpart, Meir Ben-Shabbat.

Estimates of how many Jews currently live in the UAE range from the low hundreds to 1,500. There are three different congregations — two Orthodox and one egalitarian.

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