Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region

Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region
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At Dubai’s world Expo, Israel’s Pavilion highlights cultural diversity and aims to “reinvent the future.” (AFP)
Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region
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L:R Mr. Elazar Cohen, Commissioner General of the Israel Pavilion. Rabbi Levi Duchman. Mr. Yoel Razvozov, Minister of Tourism.His Excellency Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and Small and Medium Enterprises.
Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region
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A 360 room shows images of the different cultures. (AFP)
Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region
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a large sign with the words “Toward Tomorrow” written in intertwined Arabic and Hebrew letters — a font known as “Aravrit” invented by Israeli typographer, Liron Lavi Turkenich
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Updated 08 October 2021

Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region

Israel opens Expo 2020 Dubai pavilion showcasing ties to Arab region
  • At Dubai’s world Expo, Israel’s Pavilion highlights cultural diversity and aims to “reinvent the future”

DUBAI: Israel’s Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai officially opened its doors amid a vibrant celebration of traditional Jewish formalities and special performances by Israeli DJ Abass and Hamalgezot, an Israeli band playing traditional Israeli music.

The audience of around 250 guests reveled in the Pavilion’s inauguration in the 15-meter high and 1,550-sqm open trapezoidal steel paneled structure with a mount resembling the shape of sand dunes and sheltered Middle Eastern streets.

Located in the Opportunity district, the pavilion was designed by Knafo Klimor Architects before the Abraham Accords and before the pandemic.

It draws its inspiration from the arid landscapes of Israel and other countries in the Middle East.

It also features a large sign with the words “Toward Tomorrow” written in intertwined Arabic and Hebrew letters — a font known as “Aravrit” invented by Israeli typographer, Liron Lavi Turkenich featuring a hybrid of two local scripts, combining Hebrew and Arabic characters.

Its message recalling the theme of Expo 2020: “Connecting Minds and Creating the Future.”

A large sign with the words “Toward Tomorrow” written in intertwined Arabic and Hebrew letters. (Supplied)

“We wanted this pavilion to be very inviting and we want to show that what unites us is bigger than what divides us,” pavilion spokesman Menachem Gantz told Arab News.

“We are trying to show our similarities with other Arab countries. We are part of the Middle East. We have the same dunes, we have the same sand, and we face the same environmental challenges.”

Guests can journey up the “sand dune” style walkway into an open-air structure that resembles, according to Elazar Cohen, commissioner general of Israel for Expo 2020 Dubai, “an open tent.”

Inside are seven 15-sqm high LED screens showcasing the best of Israel’s landscape, culture and performing artists — Israel’s contribution to humanity in different fields.

Inside, on the lower level in the main hall of the pavilion, is a 360-degree immersive show plays on a 250-sqm screen, presenting Israeli landscape, culture, arts, and expertise in innovation.

“From our history to the landscape of our countries, there are many similarities,” he told Arab news.

“That’s why we decided to design the pavilion as an open tent, to welcome visitors to Israel and provide a place of comfort. From the feedback we’ve been receiving especially from Arabic visitors to the pavilion, we are achieving just that, reminding people how much we have in common as nations.”

Expo 2020 marks a series of firsts. It is the first time the global event has ever taken place in an Arab country, the first time that every participating country has its own pavilion, and in many ways, it constitutes another first for Israel on Arab soil.

Until September 2020, it would have been unthinkable that Israel would be able to participate in an event in the UAE.

Until just over a year ago, when Israel and the UAE signed the historic Abraham Accords, Israel had no official ties with any country in the Gulf.

In the lead-up to the signing of the Accord, Israel received an invitation to participate in Expo 2020 Dubai, in April 2019 — around 18 months prior to its official normalization with the UAE.

“We received the invitation later than other countries and had just a year-and-a-half to prepare for October 2020,” added Gantz.

“Having an Israeli booth on UAE soil just a year after signing the Abraham accords is a huge move forward in relations between our countries,” Yoel Razvozov, Israel’s Minister of Tourism, told Arab News.

“The Abraham accords are unprecedented and represents a new chapter in the history of peace process in the Middle East.”

The evening began with a traditional Mezuzah ceremony performed by Rabbi Duchman.

The call was made in April 2019 inviting Israel to take part. (Supplied)

According to tradition, a Mezuzah, which means “doorpost” in Hebrew, is to be hung on one of the most important doorways of your home.

The Pavilion’s Mezuzah Case was made and designed exclusively for Expo 2020 Dubai by renowned Judaica artist David Roytman.

Israelis hope the pavilion will drive a mutual increase in tourism and business to both Israel and the UAE.

According to Dubai custom’s figures, the first five months since the signing of the Abraham accords saw bilateral trade amounting to $250 million.

As of Aug. 29, 2021, overall trade value has reached roughly $675 million.

Israel and the UAE recently announced a mutual visa waiver memorandum to enhance tourism and business for both countries.

This year, in May, Israel participated in the Arabian Travel Market, the Middle East’s most significant travel and tourism exhibition.

According to Razvozov, Israel will welcome around 100,000 visitors from the UAE annually once borders between the two countries are fully opened, and travel restrictions due to Covid-19 are lifted.

For Israel, tourism and establishing cultural understanding between Israel and other Arab countries is the way to maintain not only diplomatic relations, but peace and work to a new future.

“Peace is maintained through mutual learning and recognition between people,” said Razvozov in his opening remarks.

“In this context, tourism serves this goal in the best way. Tourism allows us to explore, learn from and accommodate each other. Tourism will build a human bridge to peace.”

Gantz stressed how the pavilion was not about forgetting the past or forgetting the hardships that have taken place, but about moving forward and establishing a new future with the Arab world.

“Diversity for Israelis symbolizes strength, and we want to celebrate this,” he said.

“We are asking you for a dialogue, where you can come to the pavilion, and we can get to know each other.”


Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
Updated 6 sec ago

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation

Beirut blast probe judge cleared to continue investigation
  • A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Tarek Bitar from questioning top officials
BEIRUT: The probe into last year’s deadly Beirut port blast has been cleared to resume after being suspended for more than a month on legal claims against its lead investigator, judge Tarek Bitar, a judicial source said.
A Beirut court rejected the last of the suits preventing Bitar from questioning top officials on Tuesday.
“They have reversed the decision that had led to the suspension of the probe and he can now resume his work for sure,” Nizar Saghieh, head of the Legal Agenda, a research and advocacy organization, told Reuters.
The resumption could be temporary should further legal complaints be filed, he said.
The investigation into the Aug. 4, 2020, blast that killed more than 215 people, injured thousands and destroyed large swathes of the city has made little headway amid pushback from powerful factions, some of whom lead smear campaigns and filed multiple suits against Bitar.
The leader of the Iranian-backed, armed Shiite Muslim political movement Hezbollah has repeatedly said he wanted Bitar removed from the case and the row over him has spilled over into government, with Prime Minister Najib Mikati’s cabinet unable to meet since Oct. 12.
Many Lebanese are angry that more than one year on from the blast no senior official has been held accountable for the country’s worst peace-time disaster as it slips into political and economic meltdown.
Bitar has sought to question senior politicians, including former ministers and members of parliament, since July but nearly all have spurned him.
He is the second judge to take charge of the investigation after a legal complaint against the partiality of his predecessor Fady Sawan saw him removed in February.

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4
Updated 07 December 2021

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

Motorcycle explosion in southern Iraqi city kills at least 4

BASRA: At least four people were killed and 20 wounded in an explosion in Iraq's southern city of Basra, police and hospital sources told Reuters on Tuesday.
Police are still investigating the cause of the blast, which took place in the city centre, near a main hospital. The explosion set fire to at least one vehicle and damaged a minibus.
One police source said that an initial investigation showed that a motorcycle rigged with explosives could have been the cause of the blast. 


UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022

UAE government switches weekend to Saturday-Sunday starting 2022
  • The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported

DUBAI: The UAE government will transition to a four-and-a-half-day working week, with Friday afternoon, Saturday and Sunday forming the new weekend starting Jan. 1, 2022 for all federal departments, state news agency WAM reported. 
The new system will be applied in all federal government entities with working hours from 7:30 a.m. till 3:30 p.m., it added.
Working hours on Fridays will start at 7:30 a.m. and end at 12 noon, with the possibility of flexible working hours or work from home options during those days. Friday sermons and prayers will be after 1:15 p.m. all year long in the UAE. 
The decision is aimed at boosting productivity and improving work-life balance, WAM reported.


UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
Updated 07 December 2021

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed

UAE’s new 50-dirham banknote features Sheikh Zayed
  • It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country
  • The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used

DUBAI: UAE rulers witnessed the launch of a new 50-dirham banknote on Tuesday, in celebration of the country’s 50th National Day. 
The initiative comes in honor of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al-Nahyan, and the country’s first generation of rulers to commemorate their dedication and historical role in uniting the country.
It is the first polymer banknote to be circulated in the country.
“We see in this issuance the new phase that UAE will enter, and a renewed pledge to continue its growth path. The occasion also allowed us to express our appreciation and gratitude to our founding fathers by issuing a new AED50 banknote to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the establishment of the UAE,” said Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Central Bank of the UAE. 
The front of the new banknote features a portrait of the late Sheikh Zayed on the right, and the memorial picture of the founding fathers after signing the union document. 
Meanwhile, the back side includes a picture of the late Sheikh Zayed signing the union agreement as well as illustration of the Etihad Museum, which witnessed the establishment of the union and the raising of the UAE flag for the first time.
According to state news agency WAM, the new banknote will be available in Central Bank branches and ATMs ‘in the near future’.
The current 50- dirham note will continue to be used.
Polymer banknotes are said to be more durable and sustainable than traditional cotton paper banknotes, lasting two or more times longer in circulation. They can also be completely recycled, thus reducing their environmental footprint.


Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
Updated 07 December 2021

Syria says fires extinguished at Latakia’s port following Israeli ‘aggression’

 Israeli Air Force F-35 fighter jets fly over the Mediterranean Sea. (REUTERS file photo)
  • Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria

CAIRO: Fires caused by an Israeli “aggression” at Syria’s Latakia port on Tuesday had been extinguished, leaving material damage, but the status of any casualties was unclear, Syria’s state media reported.

Five explosions rocked the port city after an Israeli “aggression” hit the port’s container yard, sending fire trucks racing to the site, Syrian state TV said.

Israel has mounted frequent attacks against what it has described as Iranian targets in Syria, where Tehran-backed forces including Lebanon’s Hezbollah have deployed over the last decade to support President Bashar Assad.

The Mediterranean port of Latakia is the country’s main port, through which food and other crucial supplies flow into war-torn Syria, and is close to Russia’s main air base of Hmeimim.