Isaac Herzog with Michal Herzog, Sheikh Nahyan, Reem Al Hashemi and other dignitaries at the Israel National Day celebrations in Expo 2020 Dubai.
Mariecar Jara-Puyod, Senior Reporter
All together for peace and unity towards a better tomorrow resonated once again on Monday when Israeli UAE residents and visitors celebrated their National Day from the Expo2020 Dubai.
President Isaac Herzog opened Israel’s National Day at Expo 2020 Dubai. The Pavilion is led by Israel’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs in partnership with Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael Jewish National Fund (KKL-JNF).
The President and the First Lady were welcomed with an honour guard, after which the Israeli flag was raised and the Israeli national anthem (HaTikvah) was played at the Expo’s Stage of Nations.
Official celebrations of the Israel National Day began mid-morning with President Herzog and First Lady Michal Herzog being welcomed by UAE Minister of Tolerance and Co-Existence/Expo2020 Dubai Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan and UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation/Expo2020 Dubai Director General Reem Al Hashemi, with an honour guard.
The Israeli blue-and-white flag was raised amidst the strains of the “HaTikvah” Jewish national anthem at the Stage of Nations by the Al Wasl Dome, thereafter.
In his speech, Herzog, the first-ever Israeli head of state to visit an Arab country—and which the Gulf Today interviewees emphasised and took pride of, said: “I welcome this exciting opportunity to see this beautiful land.
Expo2020 Dubai is a huge achievement for all of you, and also a huge achievement for Dubai itself and the brave leaders of this country, whom I have had the privilege of meeting.
It is a remarkable celebration of each nation’s unique identity. It is also a reminder of what can be accomplished when we work together to break down borders by connecting minds and imagining a different future.
“As the President of the State of Israel I am proud of Israel’s contribution to the vision of a common future, as we have seen on display over the past several months here and in Israel, where I had the honour to inaugurate the UAE Embassy in Tel Aviv.”
Sheikh Al Nahyan said: “Israel has much to offer on our global platform. And so we are pleased to have you at this engagement with us, at Expo2020 Dubai. We are proud to host the first World Expo to be held in the Middle East, Africa, and South Asia region and of our warm Emirati welcome to the whole world. The participation of 192 countries is a testament to the UAE’s efforts to bring the world together into one unified platform in a bid to build bridges, engage in constructive dialogue, and develop sustainable solutions to modern-day challenges. We strongly believe that what unites humanity far outweighs what divides it.”
Interviewed were Israel Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Public Diplomacy Senior Deputy Director General Noam Katz, Israel Pavilion Commissioner Geineral Elazar Cohen, Israel Pavilion Communications Manager Menachem Gantz, Israel Pavilion Curator Malki Shem Tov, Association of Gulf Jewish Communities Chief Rabbi/Jewish Council of the Emirates Senior Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie, mentalist Amir Lustig, and King David Peace Drummers lead member Eyal Davidoff.
Israel Pavilion Communications Manager Gantz said Herzog who met with His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai at the UAE Pavilion and which was attended by Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, toured the Israel Pavilion “about two hours ago (10 a.m.).”
Interviewed from the Israel Pavilion’s open Abraham Tent and sand dunes, Israel MFA’s Katz whose Public Diplomacy office was tasked to be responsible over the Israel Pavilion, clarified that participation of the Jewish State at Expo2020 Dubai was not a result of the landmark Sept. 15, 2020 United States-brokered Abraham Accords for the peace treaty and diplomatic relations between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel, and between Bahrain and the State of Israel: “In 2014, we supported (the bid of the UAE and Dubai) to host Expo2020.
We asked to be invited to attend the Expo2020. We received the official invitation for Israel’s participation at Expo2020 Dubai from the UAE Government and Dubai in 2019. We had been planning for our participation since. The Abraham Accords in 2020 (is important) as it gave us a great boost and opportunity to use the platform of Expo2020 Dubai to expand our growing relations with the Emiratis, with others in the region. Expo2020 has been a great opportunity to meet, to build relations, to seek common interests for the benefit of humanity.”
Like Cohen, Gantz, Shem Tov, Abadie, Lustig and Davidoff, Katz stressed the value of peace, fraternity and unity between and among nations and governments. Cohen stated that through all circumstances and situations, proved is the fact that obstacles are a goner when people and individuals unbendingly choose to win over these by way of goodwill, amity and harmony, despite dissimilarities and inequalities.
Interviewed from the Israel National Day Evening Reception, Rabbi Abadie said President Herzog and First Lady Michal met representatives of the approximately 500 “active members of the Jewish Community in the UAE” on Sunday evening at the Conrad in Abu Dhabi.
According to Abadie, aside from Herzog touching base with them with regards whatever support the community needs from the Israeli national leadership, the President also highlighted plans of Israel to cement “new era in relations between Jews and Muslims in our region” based on the vision of inclusivity. “The President also gave huge credit to all the those who brought about the realization of the Abraham Accords,” said Abadie.
Visitors to the Israel Pavilion, which, according to Cohen were at 860,000 as of Monday morning from Oct. 1, were entertained the entire day. Visiting performers were the electronic ethnic reggae band Anna RF and the King David Peace Drummers who also included in the repertoire the use of the Shofar (antelope horn) and expressed their wish that drummers from all over the world converge in Jerusalem for the “peace and unity movement.” Mentalist Lustig demonstrated his ability to read minds with Gulf Today and he was 100 per cent perfect.