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The New Arab Staff

Jewish communities in Arab Gulf nations form first association

A Lebanese-born rabbi and the head of Bahrain's Jewish community will run the association [Getty]

Date of publication: 16 February, 2021

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The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities will include a Jewish court and a regional Kosher certification agency.
Jewish communities in six Arab states have formed a new communal organisation that will oversee civil and religious issues across the Gulf, Israeli media have reported.

The Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC) is the first of its kind, established amid a cultural opening for Jewish residents of the Gulf following US-brokered agreements last year to normalise ties between Israel and several Arab nations, including the UAE and Bahrain.

The organisation will be headed by Lebanese-born Rabbi Dr Elie Abadi and Ebrahim Dawood Nonoo, a Bahraini businessman who was the first Jewish person appointed to the country's Shura council.

The association will bring together Jewish communities in Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

It will include a Jewish court that will preside over issues of personal status, inheritance, religious ritual and other civil disputes.

The AGJC will also run a Kosher certification agency for the six Gulf countries.

The organisation also hopes to build a religious education system, Abadie told The Times of Israel.

The United Arab Emirates, where around 3,000 Jewish people live, has been supportive of the effort, Abadie added.

"They have told me that whatever I need, they want to be there for me and for the community," the rabbi said.

The AGJC has not received any funds from the UAE, Israel or any other states, according to local media reports, and has instead been funded by donations from Jewish communities.

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