i24 News – Rabbi Dr. Ellie Abadie, a senior Rabbi for the Jewish Council of the Emirates, told i24NEWS on Thursday that the Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates has grown significantly over the last two years.
Abadie took his position in the UAE after the Abraham Accords were signed in 2020. The US-brokered normalization deal between Israel and a number of Arab states, including the UAE, brought a record increase in trade and defense cooperation.
According to the rabbi, the deal also had a positive impact on the life of the Jewish community in the UAE.
“When I arrived, there were maybe less than 200 Jews living there that we know of and now we have, I would say, 600 if not more of Jews, who are living there. There might be even more than that, that we are not aware of but many of those 600 are part of the community,” he said.
“We have over five to six Kosher restaurants, three Kosher caterers, several prayer services all around the country,” he added, praising the country’s government and local authorities for welcoming those changes.
Abadie, who is also a rabbi for the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities, commented on the controversy sparked by an Israeli journalist filming a report in the holy city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia. As it is prohibited for non-Muslims to enter Mecca, the report sparked outrage in the Arab countries.
The rabbi said the incident was “unfortunate” and called for more respect among the neighboring countries.
“The best way to befriend people that we have not been friends with before for whatever political or other issues and reasons is to get to know them, to respect their rules, their religion, to give proper respect to their traditions,” Abadie said.
He added that he recommended to Israel’s Foreign Ministry and the country’s travel agencies to make “a list of do’s and don’ts” for Israeli tourists, who come to the UAE, to avoid confrontational situations.