Israel is gearing up to take part in Expo 2020 Dubai when the world fair opens on Friday, a spokesman said, a year after the UAE and the Jewish state normalised ties.
“We're very happy to be here,” Menachem Gantz told AFP, the spokesman of Israel's pavilion at the six-month world fair.
“This is the first time the expo is in the Middle East, and the first time Israel is participating in an event of such a large scale and importance [in an Arab country].”
On September 15, the United Arab Emirates marked one year since normalising ties with Israel, a move that leaders hope could reap a trillion dollars in trade and business.
Previously, Egypt and Jordan were the only Arab states to have peace agreements under which they recognise Israel, and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called the deal a “betrayal” of their cause. After the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Sudan also agreed to normalise ties.
The Israeli pavilion, which includes a large illuminated sign saying “Towards Tomorrow” using both Arabic and Hebrew — will be open to all.
Inside, pathways run between sand dunes made of a thin layer of concrete and sand-coloured rubber.
“Our pavilion ... is made of things that integrate us, that show how similar we are,” Gantz said.
“The 'sand' we're standing on symbolises the dunes, and the topography of Israel and the Emirates is very similar to it.”
The UAE and Israel have sought to emphasise the economic dividend offered by normalisation.
The global expo, which Dubai hopes will attract visitors and boost the economy, is set to open its doors to the public on October 1 after a one-year delay due to the coronavirus pandemic.