The ruler of the United Arab Emirates issued a decree on Saturday formally ending the country’s boycott of Israel amid a U.S.-brokered deal to open up relations between the two countries.
The announcement now allows trade and commerce between the UAE, home to oil-rich Abu Dhabi and skyscraper-studded Dubai, and Israel, home to a thriving diamond trade, pharmaceutical companies and tech start-ups.
The state-run WAM news agency said the decree formally ending the boycott came on the orders of Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the ruler of Abu Dhabi and the Emirates’ leader.
The decree comes after a trip through the Mideast in recent days by U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who hoped to build on the UAE-Israel deal.
The accord is a major foreign policy win for U.S. President Donald Trump. Both Israel and the UAE have viewed the Republican president as an ally.
WAM said the new decree allows Israelis and Israeli firms to do business in the UAE, a federation of seven sheikhdoms on the Arabian Peninsula. It also allows for the purchase and trade of Israeli goods.
“The decree of the new law comes within the UAE’s efforts to expand diplomatic and commercial cooperation with Israel,” WAM said.
Dubai International Airport, home to the long-haul airline Emirates, has been the world’s busiest for international travel for years.
The Dubai International Financial Center also hosts major firms who trade in the hours between Asian and European markets. Dubai already has a major gold market and growing diamond trade.
On Monday, the first direct commercial flight from Israel is expected in Abu Dhabi, carrying U.S. and Israeli officials including President Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner. Telephone calls already can be made between the nations.
The decree formally eliminates a 1972 law on the UAE’s books since just after the country’s formation.
That law mirrored the widely held stance by Arab nations at that time that recognition of Israel would only come after the Palestinians had an independent state of their own.
The UAE is becoming the third Arab nation after Egypt and Jordan to normalize diplomatic relations with Israel.
In recent years, the UAE has held quiet talks with Israel and allowed Israelis with second passports into the country for trade and talks.
Opening ties may also help the Emirates access advanced American weaponry, like the F-35 fighter jet that right now only Israel flies in the Mideast.
Sheikh Khalifa has ruled the UAE since 2004. He suffered a stroke on Jan. 24, 2014, and has rarely been seen since in public, though state media typically publishes images of him around Islamic holidays.
Abu Dhabi’s crown prince, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, has served as the UAE’s day-to-day ruler since Sheikh Khalifa’s stroke.
Sheikh Mohammed has focused on increasing the Emirates’ military might amid his suspicions of Iran — an enmity shared by Israel.
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