World, Middle East

Israel launches association for Jews in Gulf

Israel says move aimed at unifying Jewish communities in the Gulf, providing them with religious services

15.02.2021
Israel launches association for Jews in Gulf

JERUSALEM

The Israeli Foreign Ministry on Monday announced the launch of an association that brings together Jewish communities in the Arab Gulf states.

The “Israel speaks Arabic” initiative, launched by the ministry, described the new association as “the first of its kind” and encompasses all “the six Gulf states,” meaning Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Oman, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Kuwait, and Qatar.

The new Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (AGJC) said in its first-ever tweet that it was “committed to the growth and flourishing of Jewish life in the Gulf States,” calling on its followers to “stay tuned for our exciting updates!”

On Monday, the Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (IPBC) said the group will seek to “provide religious services to Jews who travel to the Gulf countries whether for residence or tourism.”

According to IPBC, the association will be headed by Abraham Nono, who is also the chairman of the Jewish community in Bahrain.

Speaking to the IPBC, Nono said the group’s aim is “to unify the resources of the communities, such as kosher food — foods that conform to Jewish religious teachings — religious aid, and burial among other things,” and make them “available to all Jews in the Gulf.”

There are no accurate figures on the number of Jews residing in Gulf countries.

However, Israel said recently that around 130,000 Israelis have visited the UAE since a normalization agreement was signed between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv last September year.

In 2020, the UAE, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco announced controversial normalization agreements with Israel, following moves decades ago by Egypt and Jordan, which signed deals with Israel in 1979 and 1994, respectively.

*Ibrahim Mukhtar from Ankara contributed to this report.

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