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The New Arab Staff

UAE's Etihad airlines launches direct flights to Israel

The UAE and Israel normalised ties last year [Getty]

Date of publication: 8 April, 2021

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The Abu Dhabi-based airline is the latest to provide direct flights between the two countries, which normalised ties last year.
UAE airline Etihad launched its first direct commercial flight from Abu Dhabi to Tel Aviv this week, marking the latest development in the normalisation of ties between Israel and the UAE.

Ambassadors representing both countries were aboard the first flight, The Jerusalem Post reported.

They were joined by a delegation of Emirati tourism representatives and Etihad CEO Tony Douglas.

The flight by the UAE's second-largest airline was welcomed at Tel Aviv's Ben Gurion International Airport with a water-cannon salute.

Etihad launched the new route despite coronavirus restrictions that until this week prevented most foreign nationals from travelling to Israel.

The country has now introduced new regulations allowing travellers who have been vaccinated against Covid-19 or have recovered from the virus to travel to Israel, as long as they take part in PCR testing and a mandatory two-week quarantine. 

Israeli national carrrier El Al and Dubai-based Emirates have also offer direct commercial flights between the two countries.

Tens of thousands of Israeli tourists have visited the UAE in the past few months.

The UAE became the third Arab nation to normalise ties with Israel last year as part of a Trump administration push that also saw Bahrain, Sudan and Morocco forge relations.

Arab and Muslim-majority countries have historically refrained from economic and diplomatic ties with Israel out of solidarity with the Palestinians.

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