The United Arab Emirates’ first-ever ambassador to Israel will arrive next Monday and spend several days in the country, during which time he will meet with senior officials as well as scout out suitable locations for the embassy and his home, an Emirati official confirmed to The Times of Israel.
Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah will come with a small team of staffers and stay for five days at this point, the Walla news website reported, citing Israeli and Emirati senior diplomatic sources.
On Tuesday, Al Kajah, 40, will present his credentials to President Reuven Rivlin.
During the rest of his visit he will also meet with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Foreign Ministry Gabi Ashkenazi and other senior Israeli officials, Walla said.
Israel and the UAE normalized ties last September with the signing of the so-called Abraham Accords at the White House in Washington, in a deal brokered by then-US president Donald Trump’s administration. Bahrain also joined the accords, establishing ties with Israel.
Earlier this month, UAE Prime Minister Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum swore in Al Khajah.
I met today with HE Eitan Na'eh, Head of Mission of the State of Israel to the UAE, at @MoFAICUAE’s headquarters in Abu Dhabi.
During the meeting, we discussed bilateral relations and means of strengthening and developing them in all fields in light of the Abraham Accords. pic.twitter.com/GdnfSMquNk
— Mohamed Al Khaja (@AmbAlKhaja) February 23, 2021
At the beginning of the week, Al Khajah met with Israel’s temporary ambassador in the UAE Eitan Na’eh, who is stationed in Abu Dhabi. The Israeli embassy is currently working from a temporary office until a permanent location can be found.
Last week Al Khajah met with Zvi Heifetz, Israel’s special envoy to the Gulf States, Walla reported.
Al Khajah has opened a Twitter account that posts messages in both English and Hebrew. So far he has gained nearly 30,000 followers.
The UAE embassy to Israel also already has a Twitter account, opened this month.
Although the exchange of embassies has progressed, a visa waiver agreement between Israel and the UAE has been held up due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Earlier this month, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu postponed an impending trip to the UAE and no future date has yet been announced. The Prime Minister’s Office said at the time that the decision to postpone the trip indefinitely was made due to the closing down of air travel to and from Israel, as part of a national lockdown aimed at preventing coronavirus infections arriving from abroad.
Netanyahu had planned to travel to Abu Dhabi and Manama ahead of the March 23 elections in Israel, in what would have been his first official visit since the establishment of official diplomatic relations with the UAE and Bahrain last year. The trip had at first been tentatively scheduled for early January, and then for later in that month, but was pushed off by COVID-related considerations.