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The New Arab Staff

Emirati ship will dock in Israel's Haifa Port for the first time

A ship coming from Dubai will dock at Israel's Haifa port (AFP)

Date of publication: 8 October, 2020

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A ship sailing from the Dubai port of Jebel Ali will arrive at Haifa Port on Monday morning.
An Emirati cargo ship will dock at Israel's Haifa Port for the first time on Monday, The New Arab's Arabic-language service reported.

The vessel MSC PARIS, coming from the Dubai port of Jebel Ali, will arrive at Haifa Port on Monday morning, the Director of the Haifa Port Company Mendy Zelsman told senior officials from the UAE, Indian and Sri Lankan ports sector on Wednesday, in an online meeting.

The Israeli Portsport website quoted Zelsman as saying that all ships heading from Southeast Asia towards the port of Haifa can now stop, on their way, at the port of Jebel Ali.

This will be the first time a ship from the UAE docks at an Israeli port. It comes after the countries signed a US-brokered deal in mid-September to normalise relations.

The deal has been rejected and condemned as a "betrayal" by the Palestinians who point out that Israel continues to occupy the West Bank and East Jerusalem and besiege the Gaza Strip, denying Palestinian rights to self-determination.

Dubai-based port operator DP World in September said it would partner with an Israeli firm in a bid to take over the country's Haifa Port, the largest shipping hub in Israel.

DP World said in a statement that it had signed memorandums of understanding with DoverTower, a company owned by Shlomi Fogel, the co-owner of Israel Shipyards and the Port of Eilat.

The two firms said they would also explore creating a direct shipping route from Dubai's massive Jebel Ali port to Eilat, the statement said.

"DP World's mission is to enable global trade," DP World chairman and CEO Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem said. "Our work to build trade routes between the UAE, Israel and beyond will help our customers to do business in the region more easily and efficiently."

The Israeli government in January voted to move forward with privatising Haifa Port, with the hope that its new owner would invest some $292 million in upgrading the facilities.

DP World runs operations as far east as Brisbane, Australia, and as far west as Prince Rupert, Canada. The company has expanded aggressively into East Africa, helping the Emirati government wield influence farther afield. Moving into Israel will expand that footprint.

But with the coronavirus pandemic shutting borders and disrupting global supply chains, DP World's profits fell 56 percent during the first half of the year.

Months before, DP World began to delist from the Dubai stock exchange, returning the company to full state-ownership to help the Dubai government's investment company repay more than $5 billion to banks.

DP World, ultimately, will be held by a wholly-owned subsidiary of Dubai World, a government investment company.

Agencies contributed to this report

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