First UAE delegation in Israel agrees multibillion-dollar fund, visa-free travel

First UAE delegation in Israel agrees multibillion-dollar fund, visa-free travel
An Etihad Airways plane carrying a delegation from the UAE on a first official visit, lands at at Israel's Ben Gurion Airport near Tel Aviv. (AFP)
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Updated 21 October 2020

First UAE delegation in Israel agrees multibillion-dollar fund, visa-free travel

First UAE delegation in Israel agrees multibillion-dollar fund, visa-free travel
  • The officials were greeted by the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
  • Four agreements signed in 5-hour meeting to cement normalization

DUBAI: Senior UAE officials signed a raft of unprecedented cooperation agreements with Israel on Tuesday after an inaugural delegation landed in Tel Aviv.
Plans were also announced for a $3 billion investment fund to be managed along with the US, to boost private sector projects in the region.
“Today, we are making history in a way that will stand for generations,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the opening of the one-day meeting.
“I think that the visit of such a high-level delegation from the UAE ... will show our peoples, the region and the entire world the benefit of having friendly, peaceful and normal exchanges.”
The UAE delegation was led by Economy Minister Abdullah bin Touq Al-Mari, and Minister of State for Financial Affairs Obaid Humaid Al-Tayer.
They were accompanied by US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and other American officials on the Etihad Airways flight from Abu Dhabi to Ben Gurion airport near Tel Aviv.

Mnuchin described the visit as a historic occasion. “With greater economic prosperity comes stronger security,” he said. The UAE, the US and Israel “share a similar outlook regarding threats and opportunities in the region,” Mnuchin said.
Officials signed an agreement allowing their citizens visa-free travel between the two countries, a first in the Arab world. Israel has peace treaties with Egypt and Jordan, but visas are required for travel.
Israel and the UAE also signed accords on investment protection and science and technology, and a civil aviation deal authorizing 28 flights a week between the two countries.
Al-Tayer said the deals signed on Tuesday offered “great opportunities to achieve prosperity for both our economies, and our people.”
A US delegate at the meeting, Adam Boehler, head of the International Development Finance Corporation, said the three countries would set up a fund, initially projected to raise $3 billion, to encourage private-sector investment and regional cooperation.
Last month, the UAE and Bahrain became the first Arab states in a quarter of a century to normalize relations and establish formal ties with Israel. The “Abraham Accords” were brokered by US President Donald Trump ahead of the next month’s presidential election, and signed during a ceremony at the White House.


Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar

A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
Updated 50 sec ago

Don’t fall for COVID-19 vaccine conspiracies, warns Muslim scholar

A protester holds up a placard at a demonstration in London in October against mandatory vaccinations. A leading Muslim scholar in Canada warned people not to believe conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine. (AFP/File Photo)
  • Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri says baseless claims go against tenets of Islam because ‘saving lives is an act of worship’

LONDON: A leading Muslim scholar in Canada has warned people not to be taken in by conspiracy theories about the coronavirus vaccine.

Sheikh Mohammed Tahir Al-Qadri said that such views, which are being spread by some on social media in an attempt to discourage people from being vaccinated, go against the tenets of Islam.

“Saving lives is an act of worship,” he said during an interview with Sky News. “At the start of the pandemic, Muslims around the world were among those in the forefront. They put their maximum efforts into saving lives, providing people with food and every kind of necessary support. In the same way, they should come forward now.”

READ MORE: Serious questions over coronavirus origin fuel conspiracy theories

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Al-Qadri, who is originally from Pakistan, sought to reassure his followers and encourage them not to believe false claims about the vaccines.

“Some people are saying that there is alcohol in it, or pork or other things forbidden (in Islam),” he said. “Some say these vaccines may affect certain parts of the brain. What can I say? These are totally baseless claims.

“This is a matter of medicinal development, of life, and it is just the same as when we take paracetamol, antibiotics or aspirins despite their side effects.

“Believing in the medical process is one of the basic teachings of Islam. Islam and the teachings of the Qur’an, the Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, is focused on reason, intelligence, scientific research and intellectual development.”