As a parent, we naturally celebrate the milestones – a child’s first steps, their first words, their first day of school, their first performance, and the list goes on. However, one of the most exciting things for a parent is to watch their child become the person they were meant to be. It’s our job to foster and support them so that they can reach their potential. In many ways, this applies to the Abraham Accords as well.
Over the past year, we have celebrated many milestone events such as former Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s visit to Bahrain, the inauguration of the Israeli Embassy in Bahrain, the inaugural Gulf Air flight to Israel, countless delegations, Bahrain’s first National Day celebration in Israel, the arrival of Israel’s first Ambassador to Bahrain, former Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s visit to Bahrain, the first Israeli Independence Day celebration in Bahrain (the first to take place in the Arab world), the launch of a third Gulf Air flight each week, and the list goes on and on. Each of these milestones is exciting in its own right but collectively, they are absolutely incredible. If someone had told me five years ago that we would be celebrating Bahrain’s National Day in Israel and Israel’s Israeli Independence Day celebration in Bahrain, I would not have believed it.
While the milestones are exciting, for me, I’m most excited watching the Accords reach their potential between our countries whether it’s in business collaboration, arts and culture or people-to-people. Once the direct flights started last September, we have had the opportunity to welcome many Israelis – some visiting for business and others for leisure. While each conversation is unique, they are also very similar as they always end with them saying they hope to visit Bahrain soon and they look forward to welcoming us to Israel. We have shared our traditions and cultures and celebrated them with each other.
On the business front, we have had many collaborations and there was recently a meeting in Tel Aviv focused on bringing Israeli start-ups to Bahrain to create a regional research and development hub. Naturally, this is a wonderful idea for both sides. Bahrain offers low operating costs as well as significant labour subsidies that can benefit Israeli start-ups and provide a solution to combat the tech employment shortage in Israel. These startups can provide technological advancements to Bahrain and make a huge impact on the economy and the overall level of jobs created. This is just one example, imagine what the future looks like as the relationship between our health institutions grows or when we partner further on sustainability goals and in the defense sector. Imagine the impact it will have on our children when they see Bahraini students on Israeli university campuses and Israeli students on Bahraini university campuses. Or, when they play sports together and are on the same team! The future for our region is brighter than ever before and that is due to the bold vision of our leaders which we are all doing our part to support so that they thrive.
To me, that’s what these Accords are all about – to create a new Middle East based on peace and prosperity for all. To do that, we must work together across sectors and industries and of course on the people-to-people front and in the arts and culture space. As individuals, we are all partners in creating this new region. It’s what we want for our children and the future generations. Our countries have set an example for many others to follow.
As citizens of this region, we must celebrate the milestones between our nation. Through our support of them, coupled with the guiding light that our leaders and their diplomatic emissaries provide, we are able to watch as this relationship reaches its true potential. If this past year is any indication, the relationship between Bahrain and Israel is strong and will continue to flourish.