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Abu Dhabi instructs all hotels to offer kosher meals following Israel, UAE normalisation deal

Abu Dhabi could see an influx of Jewish and Israeli tourists [Getty]

Date of publication: 10 September, 2020

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The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism has 'advised' hotels on Tuesday to offer kosher food.
Hotels in Abu Dhabi have been instructed to offer kosher food to their guests following last month's agreement to normalise ties between Israel and the UAE.

The Abu Dhabi Department of Culture and Tourism "advised" hotels on Tuesday to provide kosher options to guests, The Jerusalem Post reported. 

It appears the UAE capital is preparing for an influx of Israeli and Jewish tourists following the controversial 13 August normalisation deal

The department "instruct[ed] all hotel establishments" to abide by kosher regulation, including seeking kosher certifications, designating a kosher area in kitchens, and labelling kosher menu options.

It remains unclear whether the advice to hotels constitutes a mandatory regulation or purely a recommendation.

"Based on the commitment of the Department of Culture and Tourism - Abu Dhabi to ensure certain foods are available for all visitors and tourists in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, please note that all hotel establishments are advised to include kosher food options on room service menus and at all food & beverage outlets in their establishments," the statement read.

The US-brokered normalisation deal between the UAE and Israel was announced on 13 August, with a group of Israeli officials landing in Abu Dhabi two weeks later to discuss cooperation in a variety of fields.

A Dubai-based caterer was granted a kosher certificate from the US-based Orthodox Union last week especially for the Israeli officials who arrived in the UAE capital on the first direct civilian flight from Tel Aviv to Abu Dhabi.

Israel welcomed the certification of the first ever Kosher restaurant in the UAE, saying: 
"For the first time in the UAE, a kosher restaurant is opening soon in Abu Dhabi after obtaining an official license from the relevant rabbinical authorities."

"A small step but one with huge implications following the Israeli-Emirati peace agreement," it added.

Normalisation between the UAE and Israel has been strongly condemned by Palestinian leaders.

The deal would kill a two-state solution, strengthen "extremists" and undermine the "possibility of peace", chief Palestinian negotiator Saeb Ereket said last month.

But hard hit by the coronavirus, the UAE and Israel expect rapid dividends from their normalisation deal, which gives it better access to Gulf states.

The UAE-Israel normalisation deal will be signed in next week at the White House.

Currently most of the millions of Israelis who travel abroad each year head to Europe or the US, but that could now change.

In Israel's third largest city of Haifa, which has a mixed Arab and Jewish population, travel agency Mirage Tours has already started advertising travel to Dubai.

"I get a lot of calls from Arabs and Jews and there're many Jews who ask me for a seat when there is a first flight," owner George Muhashim told AFP

Israel signed a peace treaty with Egypt in 1979 and with Jordan in 1994 but some of his customers are nervous about visiting two countries, with which it had fought bitter and bloody wars in the past.

The UAE never fought a direct military conflict with Israel and has been engaged in quiet diplomatic and security relations for years. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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