The United Arab Emirates (UAE) launched tourist visas for Israeli citizens on Thursday, official media said, in the latest move following the normalization of ties between the two countries.
Abu Dhabi's foreign ministry "announced the activation of tourist entry visas through airlines and travel and tourism offices for Israeli passport holders," the WAM news agency reported.
The measure is a stop-gap until a mutual visa waiver agreement is put in place meaning Israelis visiting the UAE will be eligible for visas on arrival. The same will apply to Emiratis visiting the Jewish state.
"The move falls within bilateral cooperation between the UAE and the State of Israel following the signing of the Abraham Accords and aims to facilitate travel to the UAE for the time being," the report added.
With their economies hard-hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE and Israel are hoping for rapid dividends from the U.S.-brokered normalization deal signed in September. They have already signed accords on investment protection, and science and technology, as well as a civil aviation deal authorizing 28 flights a week between the two countries.
The UAE was only the third Arab country to normalize ties with Israel following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. However, its move was quickly followed by Bahrain, and in October, Sudan also announced it would normalize relations with Israel.
The agreements, which have been roundly condemned by the Palestinians, break with years of Arab League policy on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The consensus had been that there should be no relations with Israel until it makes peace with the Palestinians.
The UAE and Bahrain have faced criticism from within the Arab and Muslim world over their decision to forge ties with Israel. In return for formal ties with the UAE, Israel agreed to freeze plans to annex Palestinian territory in the occupied West Bank, although Netanyahu has said that annexation remains on the table.