Israel-based i24News channel to open Dubai office

Israel-based i24News channel to open Dubai office in latest normalisation move
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Israel's I24News TV network said it will open an office in Dubai.
Normalisation outraged the Arab world [Getty]

Israel-based i24News television network said Monday it would open an office in Dubai, in the latest normalisation development between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi, which outraged the Arab world last year.

"In the last year, we have witnessed regional diplomatic changes that enable business ties and opportunities for partnerships," said Frank Melloul, chief executive of i24News.

"The establishment of our office in Dubai Media City gives us a strategic platform to expand our coverage of the Middle East right from the heart of the region's media industry hub," he added.

The news channel also announced a series of agreements with the United Arab Emirates, including content exchanges with the publisher of English-language daily Gulf News, and advertisements from UAE's tourism ministry.

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Mona Al Marri, director-general of the Government of Dubai Media Office, welcomed "the establishment of cooperation between the media sectors of UAE and Israel", while Majed Al Suwaidi, the director of Dubai Media City, said that adding i24News to the centre "adds to the rich global diversity of media".

Two major Emirati telecom operators, Etisalat and DU, would carry content from i24News, which broadcasts in Arabic, English and French.

In December, the channel based in Israel's coastal city of Tel Avi signed a deal with Abu Dhabi Media for shared reporting and archival content.

The state-owned Dubai Media Incorporated said it signed a memorandum of understanding with i24News to cooperate on content creation, media technology and employee exchange programs.

The channel and Dubai Media Incorporated also said they connect their media with a "Fibre of Peace" an optical line connecting the Gulf to Israel to share information.

The UAE normalised relations with Israel in September 2020, signing a treaty known as the Abraham Accords.

Since then the two countries have signed a dizzying array of cooperation agreements in fields ranging from banking to filmmaking.

While the UAE and other Arab states have rushed to embrace Israel, opinion among Arab populations remains strongly against normalisation.

A poll published Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies (ACRPS) in early October showed that an overwhelming majority of 88 percent of Arabs reject normalisation with Israel.

Israel, which for decades has claimed to be "the only democracy in the Middle East", has supplied spyware technology to the UAE.

Ambiguous anti-terror and cybercrime laws have been used to target critics of the regime and dissidents. Websites critical of the regime's human rights record have been blocked in the country.

The UAE has led a military and political campaign against Muslim Brotherhood-affiliated groups in the Middle East, and led a crackdown on pro-democracy movements.