American Jewish advocacy group opens office in Abu Dhabi

“We have to be tolerant to thrive … in a challenging neighbourhood,” the Emirati foreign minister said.
Wednesday 09/06/2021
A file picture shows the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris meeting the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, in Warsaw. (AFP)
A file picture shows the CEO of the American Jewish Committee, David Harris meeting the Secretary General of the Muslim World League, in Warsaw. (AFP)

DUBAI--The American Jewish Committee (AJC) advocacy group said it has opened an office in the United Arab Emirates, its first in the Arab region, in a move welcomed by the Gulf state’s foreign minister as promoting dialogue.

The Abu Dhabi office, said AJC, is “the leading global Jewish advocacy organisation’s first office in an Arab country and its thirteenth overseas post.”

“AJC Abu Dhabi is truly historic,” said AJC CEO David Harris.

Former US ambassador to Oman, Mark Sievers, will be the first office director, said Jason Isaacson, AJC Chief Policy and Political Affairs Officer.

The UAE and Bahrain established ties with Israel last year in US-brokered deals called the Abraham Accords, becoming the first Arab states in more than a quarter century to break what had been a long-standing taboo in the region.

“We are thrilled to have you,” UAE Foreign Minister Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed al-Nahyan told the Jewish group’s virtual annual global forum on Monday. “Your presence in the UAE is … part of changing mindsets.”

“We have to be tolerant to thrive … in a challenging neighbourhood,” the Emirati foreign minister said.

He said the global effort to “challenge extremism and radical ideas has not been appropriate”.

The regional trade and tourism hub has pressed on with plans to further ties with Israel, though with less fanfare following Israel-Hamas hostilities last month and what Arab states have described as Israeli provocations in Jerusalem.

Sheikh Abdullah said finding a solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict would require “strategic” thinking on both sides.