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Adela Smeke
Adela Smeke
Passionate about Jewish History

Delegation of Jewish leaders in the UAE

Meeting with H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State fo Foreign Trade
Meeting with H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade. (courtesy)

As a member of the World Jewish Congress (WJC) program, WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps, I had the opportunity to be part of the delegation made up of 40 members from more than 20 different countries that traveled to the United Arab Emirates during the month of November.

Our mission was clear: to understand the reception and vision of the Emiratis after the signing of the Abrahamic agreements and to look for ways to collaborate to nurture the communication and exchange routes between both countries.

The program was carefully designed by the UAE embassy in Washington D.C. and they organized meetings at the highest level with political leaders, businessmen and members of civil society. We really wanted to immerse ourselves in the social ecosystem and understand from the heart of its government, its vision of what the future of the region will be.

Inside beautiful Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. (courtesy)

We were surprised to hear the magnificent project of The Abrahamic House, which is under construction and aims to house a synagogue, a mosque and a church in the same complex. This initiative is as part of the interreligious dialogue efforts that the government and society promote.

We also had the opportunity to meet with the UAE Minister of State fo Foreign Trade H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, who shared with us his global vision and part of the strategic plan so that the UAE economy does not depend on oil in the future.

During our meeting with Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, who is the UAE’s Minister of Tolerance and Coexistance and is also a member of the Emirati royal family. I was amazed by the fact that the UAE government hold a minister of Tolerance in their structure to think how to promote the interfaith and intercultural dialog not only among the Emirati society, but also among the nations. The minister invited us to a royal reception in which he shared with us the efforts being made by the government to promote cultural exchange and thus promote tolerance among the different minorities in the country.

It was overwhelming to hear the vision of the leaders on issues of religious tolerance and interculturality and that has allowed society to integrate.

Our visit to the Expo Dubai 2020 surprised us because its design and magnitude and in turn seeks to recognize the differences and look for the similarities between nations.

The delegation at the Israel pavilion in the Expo Dubai 2021. (courtesy)

In reality, all aspects of life in the country are perfectly aligned with the values ​​of respect, tolerance and integration and the Abraham Accords are just a very

visible part of this inclusion promoted by the Emiratis who view Israel with much admiration and as a strategic partner in the region.

It was overwhelming to hear the vision of the leaders on issues of religious tolerance and interculturality and that has allowed society to integrate.

Our visit to the Expo Dubai 2020 surprised us because its design and magnitude and in turn seeks to recognize the differences and look for the similarities between nations.

Wearing Kippot in public spaces in UAE. (courtesy)

In reality, all aspects of life in the country are perfectly aligned with the values ​​of respect, tolerance and integration and the Abraham Accords are just a very  visible part of this inclusion promoted by the Emiratis who view Israel with much admiration and as a strategic partner in the region.

However, for me the most important moment was having the opportunity to spend Shabbat with the Jewish Council of the Emirates which has only 7 years since its foundation and has become the most recent Jewish community member of of the World Jewish Congress. It is a community with an incredible future ahead of it.

I was the only Mexican who participated in this delegation, and despite the distance, there is much that can be done to promote exchange.

Who would have dreamed 50 or 20 or even 3 years ago that a large delegation of Jewish leaders were going to be received by members of the real of a Muslim country and that right there we were going to celebrate Shabbat, proudly wearing the kippot in the streets without fear to be attacked?

The Middle East is changing, fortunately for Israel and we as Diaspora Jews must celebrate it and join international efforts.

If you want to know more about this incredible experience or are interested in looking for ways to collaborate, contact me: adel.smeke@gmail.com

About the Author
Adela is a passionate volunteer in the Jewish Comunity in Mexico working in diferent organizations. She is school teacher in a Jewish high school where she teaches jewish history. She holds a master degree in Human Studies and her focus area is History and Holocaust.
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