On the first official visit to the United Arab Emirates by the country’s head of state, Israel’s figurehead president met the crown prince of Abu Dhabi on Sunday, the latest sign of expanding ties between the two nations as tensions in the region escalate.
The UAE and Israel normalised relations in the fall of 2020, as part of a series of diplomatic agreements negotiated by the United States between Israel and Arab states that had previously shunned formal relations with Israel due to its decades-long war with the Palestinians.
President Isaac Herzog met with key Emirati officials, including Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emirati de facto ruler.
The Israeli leader was greeted royally at the palace, according to the UAE’s state-run WAM news agency, with the Israeli national anthem blasting and canons booming.
Herzog was also scheduled to meet with members of Israel’s small but increasing Jewish expat population and to attend Expo 2020, the world’s fair in Dubai, where Israel has hosted a series of activities at its national pavilion.
In Israel’s parliamentary system, where the prime minister wields the most authority, the president serves mostly as a ceremonial national unifier. Last month, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett paid his first official visit to the Gulf Arab sheikhdom, where he discussed a range of issues with Sheikh Mohammed.