September 15 marks two years since the signing of the Abraham Accords between Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates. Let us understand why this agreement has proven so important in the new configuration of the Middle East and in relations between Israel and the countries of the region.
Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates achieved their independence in 1971 when most of the wars between Israel and neighboring countries had already ended, so there was never a direct confrontation. This does not mean that relations were fluid.
Probably the existence of a Jewish community in Bahrain that is documented since the 7th century, maintains roots in the country in a historical way, has helped the rapprochement between the two nations. Currently, the Jewish community in Bahrain has significantly decreased and is made up of around 30 people. Despite being a small community, personalities such as Houda Nonoo have stood out, who was Bahrain’s ambassador to the United States from 2008 to 2013. Regarding the Israel- Bahrain relation is also important to mention the visit to Bahrain of the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, Shlomo Amar, in which he had the opportunity to meet to King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa in 2019.
Stepping forward to the United Arab Emirates there has a Jewish community in Dubai with about 1,000 people who have come from different parts of the world for commercial reasons and do not necessarily plan to stay permanently. There are 3 synagogues in Dubai and a Kosher restaurant. However, the Emirati government, promoting greater tolerance and coexistence among citizens, decided to start a religious project called The Abrahamic Family House which is located in Abu Dhabi and its inauguration is planned by the end of this year. The architectural complex has 3 buildings designed with the same height and in the same style will be a synagogue, a mosque and a church.
Bilateral relations between Israel and Bahrain and Israel and the United Arab Emirates have been very nurturing. Trade agreements have been reached with the United Arab Emirates that have only in 2022 have reached more than 1.4 billion dollars. Agreements have also been made on issues of education, tourism and health.
An issue that has helped Israel’s rapprochement with both countries has been Iran’s nuclear threat, which not only represents a threat to Israel but to any country.
Months after the signing of the Abraham Accords, Morocco joined the list of countries that normalized relations with Israel.
In recent months we have seen an unprecedented rapprochement between Israel and Saudi Arabia, which has not yet culminated in an agreement to normalize relations, but represents an important step towards it.
Likewise, relations between Israel and Turkey have returned to normal after years of being on hiatus.
All this marks the beginning of a new regional configuration in the Middle East that poses a promising future. Although the Abraham Accords were a very powerful agreement in and of themselves, they have also promoted an important rapprochement between Israel and other countries in the region.
The natural resources that exist in the Middle East with the knowledge and technology that Israel can bring to the table would certainly help the Middle East re-emerge as a competitive region in the coming years.
Can’t wait to see what future holds.