Aug 29, 2020 - World

UAE abolishes Israel boycott law

Sunset at a beach near Burj Al-Arab in the Gulf Emirate of Dubai. Photo: Giuseppe Cacace/AFP/Getty Images

United Arab Emirates president Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed issued a decree on Saturday abolishing the 1972 Israel boycott law, which banned any commercial and finance contacts with Israel. 

Why it matters: The announcement comes 48 hours before U.S. and Israeli government delegations are expected to arrive in Abu Dhabi for talks on the U.S.-brokered normalization deal. The delegations will arrive on El Al flight 971 — the first-ever flight to the UAE by an Israeli commercial airliner. 

According to the new decree, "individuals and companies in the UAE may enter into agreements with bodies or individuals residing in Israel or belonging to it by their nationality, in terms of commercial, financial operations, or any other dealings of any nature."

  • The decree also says it will be permissible to enter, exchange or possess Israeli goods and products of all kinds in the UAE and trade in them.

The bottom line: The new decree has a formal and symbolic importance, but for more than two decades there were growing informal trade and business ties between Israel and the UAE.

  • Israeli officials said that at least 500 Israeli companies have signed business deals in the UAE in the last 20 years.
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