What It’s All About:
Three Main Benefits of the Abraham Accords
by Omar Al Busaidy*
The Abraham Accords — signed in Washington on 15 September 2020 by Bahrain and the UAE with Israel (joined by Morocco on 22 December 2020) — were seen by many around the world as the beginning of a new era in the Middle East, an opportunity for dialogue and direct engagement in understanding and working with one another whilst seeking solutions to past, present and future challenges. While there are countless long-term benefits in the Abraham Accords, three stand out as being exceptional:
1. Hope—it’s a small word but has a very deep meaning especially for people in the Middle East that witnessed conflict for far too long and hope to see for themselves a new narrative that will be a positive one. One that could be shared with future generations in order for them to take advantage of the opportunities that will arise from travel, trade and commerce between Israel and its neighbors. The most important issue that many hope to see resolved is the formation of a Palestinian state and while many other attempts in negotiation have failed in the past, the signing of these Accords prove to be the most viable one to possibly seeing the realization of a state for the Palestinians. Through dialogue and engagement, there could be a possibility to see more compromises made by both Israelis and Palestinians in order to move forward to a better future for both people.
2. Prosperity—one of the most challenging issues facing the leaders of the Middle East is the rise of youth unemployment which according to some estimates is at 30%. Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, the value of trade between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain has risen tremendously and this will open many opportunities for the youth to join the workforce. Startups and entrepreneurs have already engaged in brainstorming sessions, hackathons, conferences and virtual events to discuss collaborations on the new opportunities that have unleashed between the countries. Investment funds have since been created to tap into projects that will not only reap healthy financial returns but will also tackle climate change, security, food, and energy.
3. Peace—it is without a doubt that Israel is one of the most advanced nations in the world when it comes to innovation in security and weapons technology. For countries like the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Sudan, Morocco, Egypt and Jordan, cooperating with Israel will help to bolster their security capabilities and defend against the threat posed by Iran and its proxies including Hezbollah, Ansar Allah (the Houthis) and other non-state actors that constantly threaten the stability of the pragmatic states. Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, several countries including Saudi Arabia (who is not a signatory yet) have revised the school textbooks which used to promote content that was antisemitic and the governments have slowly begun to invite and host more Rabbis and Jewish organizations to conferences, meetings as well contribute to writing columns in local publications. In the UAE for instance, there has always been a Jewish community that congregated in secret but today, shabbat lunches and dinners are not only shared on social media but are always attended by many residents of the UAE including non-Jews.
It is impossible to predict the future. However, if there is one thing that is certain it’s that peaceful relations between people and countries is always better than the alternative. Anything that will help to reinforce people to people contacts as well as finding mechanisms towards stabilizing one of the most conflict-prone areas in the world is, in fact, a universal good. The Abraham Accords shines a light, a ray of hope, to remind the world that the Middle East is much more than a battle ground.
28 January 2022
*Omar Al Busaidy is the CEO of Sharaka USA and Economic Affairs Liaison at the Consulate General of the United Arab Emirates in New York.