I write this as an Emirati who has been following, studying, and researching political and strategic issues for years. Based on my daily interactions with people in my homeland, especially the youth, and looking at how their views have changed in recent decades, I can safely claim that the overwhelming majority of UAE citizens share my opinion. However, I must add that some of them continue to disregard the transformations shaping the world around us and prefer to repeat the same tired slogans as though they were inescapable fate.
Any serious observer of the UAE policies will not be surprised by the normalization of relations with Israel. The agreement is a natural outcome of the UAE’s approach to tolerance, moderation, and acceptance of the other irrespective of religion, race, or ideology.
I remember a statement made by Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, which puts this approach in perspective. On the occasion of the visit of Pope Francis and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar to the UAE in 2019, and the signing of the “Document on Human Fraternity.” He said: “The world is large enough for us all, and diversity is a source of richness, not a cause for conflict or fighting. God has created us differently to complement each other and to know one another and cooperate for good, peace, and development of all.”
We are not living in an age of grand nationalism or religious and doctrinal ideologies that tie national interests to outdated, stagnant and close-minded philosophies. Today, national interest is the core driver of state policies. This is natural and logical because any government’s ultimate responsibility is to ensure peace and progress. National interest takes precedence over everything else.
READ: An Israeli perspective on the Israel-UAE peace agreement
The UAE pursues the interests of its people in all circumstances. It views the normalization of the UAE’s relationship with Israel as a breakthrough that will open significant opportunities for mutually beneficial partnerships in the economy, trade, health, technology, and education. The two countries have immense potential, capabilities, and ambitions, and the peace agreement demonstrates the UAE’s confidence in its policies even if some detractors see otherwise. The nation’s long-term interest is the sole guiding principle of UAE leadership’s decisions.
The youth, who constitute a majority of the region’s population, aspire for development and jobs. Their sights are set on the future, and they are unfettered by futile conflicts and hostilities of the past. I genuinely believe that most young Arabs support this agreement as it aligns with their priorities.
This was evident in an Arab Youth Center survey conducted in the UAE on the youth’s priorities in the 15-35 age group. The survey findings were published on August 12, 2020, on the occasion of International Youth Day. Its findings suggest that Arab youth’s priorities are security, stability, education, health, enhancing income, job opportunities, self-improvement and character-building, environment, infrastructure, social empowerment, technological progress, and entertainment. All of these can only be achieved in an atmosphere of peace.
Only extremists oppose peace because they look at history as a continuum of inevitable conflict. Our region cannot remain captive to these destructive ideas, which have already cost it dearly for decades. Defeating such misgivings requires unwavering courage and a positive model that shows the benefits of peace. The UAE is striving to achieve just that by normalizing its relations with Israel.
My generation of Emirati and Arabs long for a bright future where peace and prosperity prevail. We look forward to overcoming decades of unjustified hatred and replacing it with a culture where tolerance and fraternity enable us to work hand-in-hand to realize a better future. This is the essence of the peace treaty between Israel and the UAE.
This post is written in tandem with a piece by Israeli tour guide and educator Miriam Tekuzener expressing an Israeli view on the UAE-Israel agreement. The posts have been cross-published to the UAE-based TRENDS website.