Within a Global Symposium Organized by TRENDS and the Moshe Dayan Center Entitled “The Abraham Accords”
To celebrate one year since the signing of the Abraham Accords between the United Arab Emirates and the State of Israel, and within the framework of a series of scholarly and informative events, TRENDS Research and Advisory, in cooperation with the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, affiliated with Tel Aviv University, organized an international symposium entitled: “Abraham Accords: Opportunity for Greater Cooperation, Tolerance and Development in the Region”, which was held last Wednesday in the Raya and Josef Auditorium at Tel Aviv University.
Al-Ittihad newspaper participated as a media and strategic partner of TRENDS in the symposium, which was held in support of the peace benefits. The symposium included three panels: “The Role of Culture in Promoting the Values of Tolerance and Dialogue”, “The Role of the Media in Promoting Peace and Human Fraternity”, and “Prospects for Cooperation in the Fields of Development and Technology”.
The participants in the symposium stressed that the peace agreements between the Arab countries and Israel establish a new Middle East that is free from conflicts and disputes that only serve the forces of extremism and terrorism, and that cooperation supports the aspirations of the peoples of the region for a stable and peaceful coexistence. They also discussed how culture, media, and developmental and technological cooperation support the peace agreements and promote prosperity and progress.
His Excellency Mohamed Al-Khaja: Development can only be achieved in the presence of sustainable peace
The proceedings of the symposium were opened by His Excellency Mohamed Mahmoud Al-Khaja, Ambassador of the United Arab Emirates to Israel, who delivered the keynote address of the symposium. In his address, His Excellency Mohamed Mahmoud Al-Khaja affirmed the United Arab Emirates’ firm belief that development, prosperity and progress can only be achieved in the presence of sustainable peace, which builds trust between the peoples of the region, especially the young, and establishes a base of constructive understanding and common interests that convince all parties that coexistence serves the interests of all.
His Excellency Mohammed Al Khaja explained that the Abraham Peace Accords are consistent with the vision of the UAE and its leadership to achieve tolerance and coexistence between countries and peoples. He added that one of the UAE’s priorities is to build a society of peaceful coexistence, and that reaching the bright future that the peoples of the region seek requires concerted efforts focusing on the investment of mutually beneficial opportunities and the establishment of a culture of peace.
His Excellency Mohammed Al-Khaja thanked TRENDS and the Moshe Dayan Center for holding this symposium, which represents what research centers should do to promote the values of tolerance and cooperation between countries, given that building peace and achieving prosperity, well-being, and common gains require that the culture supporting those values be promoted.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Ali: The Abraham Accords have outlined a new paradigm for the future of the Middle East
In his welcoming remarks, Dr. Mohammed Abdullah Al-Ali, CEO of TRENDS Research and Advisory, said that the presence of the TRENDS team at Tel Aviv University is a clear embodiment of the fruits of the Abraham Accords, which set a new paradigm for a future Middle East that seeks peace and stability through cooperation and constructive dialogue.
He stated that this symposium aims to build sustainable peace based on strong foundations of understanding and coexistence and guarantee the legitimate rights of all parties, adding that the Abraham Accords represent one of the most important transformations that the Middle East has witnessed for decades, with the establishment of a new era of constructive cooperation, security, development, and prosperity.
He noted that organizing this symposium in partnership with the Moshe Dayan Center stems from TRENDS’ conviction that think tanks and study centers should play an important role in establishing the ideals of peace, tolerance and coexistence among different peoples and cultures, as a means to achieving peace and prosperity in the region and the world, and supporting efforts to consolidate the foundations of peace.
Dr. Mohammed Al-Ali explained that several factors, such as culture, media, and common economic interests, play an important role in the achievement of sustainable peace and the establishment of solid rules to preserve it. He added that working on bringing cultures closer together and promoting cultural and civilized dialogue that helps each party understand the culture of the other creates an atmosphere of acceptance of and coexistence with the other, and thus enhances the chances of peace.
Uzi Rabi: Promoting peace requires the introduction of a change in the culture and mindset of peoples
In his speech, Professor Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, stressed that peoples must transcend relations between governments to build strong relations that can promote peace in the Middle East, that it is important to introduce a change in the culture and mindset of peoples, and that we must build better bridges of communication, cooperation, tolerance and coexistence.
He explained that tolerance, respect for the other, and confronting extremism, especially by those who cause unrest for Israel and the UAE, are crucial to achieving peace between the two countries, and that education plays a major role in spreading the culture of dialogue and respect for the other.
Uzi Rabi added that the symposium represents an important step forward in the direction of establishing a series of future cooperation initiatives, while Dr. Mohammed Al-Ali and TRENDS play an active role in promoting peace dialogue in the region.
Milette Shamir: The UAE-Israeli initiatives have translated into effective and active cooperation
Professor Milette Shamir, Vice President for International Academic Affairs at Tel Aviv University, said that there is a lot in common between TRENDS Research and Advisory and Tel Aviv University, as the two institutions are naturally keen to address the main challenges facing societies and the world at large, and are committed to building and enhancing strong international partnerships at the regional and global levels.
She stated that it is clear that the Abraham Accords aroused curiosity, that constructive aspirations soon turned into contacts between the UAE and Israel, that a number of initiatives have already begun to translate into effective and active cooperation, that the first initiative was in the field of applied water research whereby the two sides aspire to establish a center for water research, and that the second relates to plans to establish an academy for research on aging.
She added that the potential of those ambitious collaborative research projects would be enhanced by transforming them into a broader framework based on the constructive exchange of ideas.
Panel I: “The Role of Culture in Promoting the Values of Tolerance and Dialogue”
The first panel discussion, entitled: “The Role of Culture in Promoting the Values of Tolerance and Dialogue”, was moderated by Professor Uzi Rabi, Director of the Moshe Dayan Center.
Emirati researcher and writer, Mohammed Khalfan Al-Sawafi, started the discussion by saying that the region, led by the United Arab Emirates, has witnessed many cultural developments that have led to a new vision of understanding the other, thus relieving religious and sectarian tensions.
He stated that the UAE-Israeli agreement led to a number of peace agreements with other Arab countries and marked a new stage in the thinking of political decision-makers in the region on how to address differences and crises between the countries of the region, by relying on the cultural approach.
He explained that the UAE’s external humanitarian movements are a successful diplomatic key to creating a dialogue between politicians and improving understanding between peoples in order to develop development plans and diversify economies to reach the ultimate goal, namely addressing the region’s crises and achieving coexistence.
Dr. Liora Hendelman-Baavur, Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University, pointed out that Iran and Israel do not have a common border, that the two countries have not fought a war between them, and that neither of them has claims to the other’s lands, yet Israel and Iran have been engaged in a “low intensity conflict” over the past four decades. This is unfortunate considering the common history of these two peoples, which is characterized by major milestones that testify to their historical and cultural ties.
She continued that those historical and cultural ties can serve as important building blocks in overcoming the contemporary divisions between the peoples of these two ancient countries on the backdrop of unofficial cultural initiatives.
Panel II: “The Role of the Media in Promoting Peace and Human Fraternity
The second panel discussion, entitled “The Role of the Media in Promoting Peace and Human Fraternity”, was moderated by Dr. Liora Hendelman-Baavur, Director of the Alliance Center for Iranian Studies at Tel Aviv University.
The discussion was initiated by Mr. Hamad Al Kaabi, Editor-in-Chief of Al-Ittihad newspaper, who explained that the media has supported the UAE’s global efforts to maintain peace, spread the spirit of tolerance, and advocate moderation and centrism.
Al-Kaabi stressed that the media, with its institutions, platforms and members, can spread a culture of tolerance and peace by extending bridges of dialogue and communication with the other in all its religious and cultural diversity, raising awareness, clarifying facts, immunizing young people against the danger of inward orientation and extremism, and acting positively towards bringing up generations that understand the meaning and importance of peace.
He stressed that the media is capable of narrating experiences of communication, coexistence and human dialogue, as well as educating the masses based on a culture of openness and communication with the other, and instilling in them the idea of “one world” and “a common human future” .
Neta Livne, Editor-in-Chief of Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper, reiterated the importance of the media. “I believe that the media played a pivotal role in facilitating the peace agreement between the UAE and Israel, because it was the press that enabled me to write an article directed to the public in the UAE,” he said.
“The peace agreement gave us an opportunity to spread encouraging and optimistic news, and a year ago, we were still hopeful that the people of the UAE would come to visit many beautiful natural sites,” he added. “A year ago, the idea of an Israeli having a cup of coffee in Dubai seemed like a distant dream, but now dreams have come true.”
However, despite the media’s peace-building potential, Dr. Nir Boms, Research Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center, said that the modern media market has become more complicated in light of the rapid emergence of new media and social media platforms, that as far as peace in the Middle East is concerned, some traditional and modern platforms are still against the ideas of peace and human fraternity, and that the contemporary phenomena of extremist terrorist groups have benefited from the influence of social media.
“We are supposed to bear those extreme examples in mind when addressing the challenges before us, namely how to build positive media momentum across different platforms to serve the peace building project in the Middle East,” he said.
Panel III: “Prospects for Cooperation in the Fields of Development and Technology”
The third panel, entitled “Prospects for Cooperation in the Fields of Development and Technology”, was moderated by Dr. Stephen Blackwell, Scientific Adviser, Director of Strategic Studies at TRENDS.
Elyazia Al-Hosani, Head of Media Department at TRENDS, initiated the discussion by stressing that the UAE and Israel are pioneers in the field of emerging clean technology. While Israel places second in the latest rankings of the Global Innovation Index (GII) for Clean Technology, the UAE is considered a global leader in the field of renewable energy.
Al-Hosani stated that given the availability of prospects for linking electric power networks and the development of natural gas markets, the partnership between the UAE and Israel has the potential to build a more environment-friendly Middle East, and that this partnership would be based on the technological capabilities of Israel and the globally prestigious position that the UAE has achieved in the field of sustainable urban life.
She continued, “I believe that the Abraham Accords will help promote technological cooperation and economic development between the UAE and Israel, and most importantly, the partnership between the two countries can play a major role in advancing sustainable technological development in the entire Middle East.”
Subsequently, Ksenia Svetlova, Director of the Program on Israel-Middle East Relations at the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies, contributed to the panel discussion by explaining that the common factors that form the basis for scientific and academic cooperation between the UAE and Israel make this collaboration a very important one for the two countries.
She stressed the importance of academic cooperation and the development of relations between research centers, of exchange programs, and of knowledge transfer, given that those programs are long-term projects in which young people participate, and which bring together experts and scientists with the aim of exchanging opinions to achieve better results.
Dr. Paul Rivlin, Senior Fellow at the Moshe Dayan Center, also participated in the discussion by highlighting the prospects for cooperation and development following the signing of the Abraham Accords. He also talked about the ecosystem and the impact of the environment on companies in the UAE and Israel.
He noted that the GII indicates that the UAE consistently occupies a higher position than Israel in terms of its institutions and infrastructure, while Israel is doing well in terms of innovation and production based on advanced technology, which means that there are complementarities between these two economies that can form a basis for trade and investment.
Invaluable ideas and visions
Elyazia Al-Hosani, Head of Media Department at TRENDS Research and Advisory, concluded the symposium’s panels by delivering TRENDS’ concluding remarks, in which she emphasized that the symposium presented many valuable ideas and visions that serve, support and consolidate the foundations of sustainable peace that the peoples of the region aspire to.
Al-Hosani indicated that the symposium put forward many ideas and perceptions aimed at enhancing the role of culture and cultural dialogue as an entry point for each party to understand the other, and that the symposium also reviewed many opinions that underline the centrality of the media in addressing hate speech and promoting an atmosphere of trust, dialogue and communication with a human perspective.