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Israel to take part in Expo 2020 in Dubai

Attendance in international trade exhibition sign of ever-growing Israeli-Gulf Arab ties
A computer-generated image of the design for the UAE Pavilion for Dubai World Expo 2020.
A computer-generated handout image released by UAE News Agency (WAM) on May 1, 2016, shows
architect Santiago Calatrava’s design for the UAE Pavilion for Dubai World Expo 2020. (AFP)

Israel said on Thursday that it will participate in Expo 2020 in Dubai, in the latest sign of growing ties between Tel Aviv and the Gulf states.

"Expos are global gatherings where people from around the world come together to celebrate ingenuity and apply it to shared challenges. We are excited to be a part of that common endeavour," an Israeli foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu welcomed Israel’s participation, hailing it as "another sign of Israel's ascending status in the world and in the region."

A spokesperson for the gathering said all the countries in the world have been invited, “making Expo 2020 Dubai a truly international event”.

The international trade exhibition is due to open on 20 October 2020 and close on 10 April 2021.

While Israel has official diplomatic relations with only two Arab countries, Egypt and Jordan, high-profile meetings between the Jewish state and Gulf countries have increasingly become more public and frequent.   

Netanyahu went on a surprise trip to Oman last year, where he held a meeting with Sultan Qaboos in the capital. He was the first Israeli prime minister to be hosted by the sultanate in more than 20 years.

A few days later, Yisrael Katz, then Israeli transport and intelligence minister, also visited Oman to propose plans for a railway linking the Gulf to the Mediterranean via Israel. Meanwhile, in October, Israeli culture minister Miri Regev became the first Israeli minister to visit the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, the world’s third-largest mosque, in Abu Dhabi.

The visits are part of Israel’s wider efforts to counter Iran’s influence in the region by fostering close relations with Gulf states, and capitalizing on their shared enmity toward Iran.