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Flydubai to launch first commercial service to Tel Aviv

Dubai budget airline Flydubai said Wednesday, November 4, it will start direct flights to Tel Aviv this month, the first commercial service between the cities, after the United Arab Emirates and Israel agreed to normalize ties.

"The carrier will operate 14 flights a week, offering a double daily service between Dubai International Airport and Tel Aviv Ben Gurion Airport," it said in a statement, adding that flights will start from November 26. 

The United Arab Emirates signed a United States-brokered deal in September to formalize relations with Israel, the first such agreement by a Gulf Arab state.

"The start of scheduled flights will contribute to economic development and create further opportunities for investment," Flydubai chief executive officer Ghaith al-Ghaith said.

With their economies hard hit by the coronavirus pandemic, the UAE and Israel are hoping for rapid dividends from the normalization deal.

They have already signed treaties on direct flights and visa-free travel, along with accords on investment protection, science, and technology.

The UAE is only the 3rd Arab country to normalize ties with Israel following Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994. 

However, its move was quickly followed by Bahrain and last month Sudan followed suit.

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.

Regional heavyweight Saudi Arabia has so far refrained from formalizing relations with Israel but has green-lighted UAE and Bahrain overflights, marking a sign of cooperation with the Jewish state.

After the UAE deal was announced by President Donald Trump in August, Israel's El Al airline flew a delegation of US and Israeli officials to Abu Dhabi in the first commercial flight between the two countries.

That was followed by an official visit by a UAE delegation to Tel Aviv last month as well as a string of direct flights carrying business groups. – Rappler.com