The Abraham Accords—a normalization of ties agreement signed in September 2020 between Israel, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), and Bahrain—have already brought dramatic changes to the region’s political climate. More changes are expected in the future. The agreement made history as it was the first time an Arab country established diplomatic relations with Israel since Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. The purpose of the agreement was to foster development and cooperation in the fields of health, agriculture, tourism, energy, and the environment and to join forces against the threat of Iran.
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, many positive results have followed. Sudan and Morocco likewise signed normalization agreements with Israel. Travel between the UAE and Israel has taken off, with more than 130,000 Israeli tourists visiting the nation since October 2020. Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for Israel’s El Al Airlines to fly between Israel and the UAE. In the United Arab Emirates, kosher restaurants are opening, and many of its citizens are taking Hebrew-language classes in order to do business with Israel.
These trends are likely to continue and positively impact Israel’s economy and political relationships with the surrounding Gulf states. Israel’s Economy Ministry estimates that the UAE-Israel deal alone will likely result in millions of dollars of profit in bilateral trade and investments in the coming years. “Exports to the UAE…could jump to an annual $300–$500 million. UAE investments in Israel were predicted to amount to up to $350 million a year,” according to the Economy Ministry’s assessment.
We cannot overestimate the impact if more Arab nations, especially Saudi Arabia, follow the precedent set by the Abraham Accords and normalize relations with Israel. It could signify a possible shift in political focus that involves a greater emphasis on joining forces against Iran and a cooperation toward a better economic future as well as a decreased emphasis on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.