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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.

Go deeper

Dec 2, 2020 - World

Israel's embassy in Bahrain comes out into the open

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

Israel plans to open an official embassy in Bahrain by the end of December, formalizing 25 years of secret diplomatic contacts, Israeli officials tell me.

Why it matters: Israel already had a diplomatic mission in Manama for the last 11 years, run out of a front company that was listed as a commercial consulting firm. Now, there will be an Israeli flag and a sign on the door.

1 hour ago - World

Putin foe Navalny to be detained for 30 days after returning to Moscow

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny. Photo: Oleg Nikishin/Epsilon/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been ordered to remain in pre-trial detention for 30 days, following his arrest upon returning to Russia on Sunday for the first time since a failed assassination attempt last year.

Why it matters: The detention of Navalny, an anti-corruption activist and the most prominent domestic critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has already set off a chorus of condemnations from leaders in Europe and the U.S.

Biden picks Warren allies to lead SEC, CFPB

Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

President-elect Joe Biden has selected FTC commissioner Rohit Chopra to be the next director of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) and Obama-era Wall Street regulator Gary Gensler to lead the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Why it matters: Both picks are progressive allies of Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and viewed as likely to take aggressive steps to regulate big business.