Bahrain Minister of Industry arrives in Israel to ink ties, meet Netanyahu

Bahrain trade delegation arrives to sign bilateral agreements, second high level delegation from Gulf country in two weeks.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Zayed bin Rashid Al-Zayani, Bahrain’s Minister of Industry, Commerce and Tourism, arrived in Israel Tuesday, leading a business delegation in the latest tightening of ties following the establishment of diplomatic relations in October.

Al Zayani was greeted at the airport by the three Israeli cabinet ministers who hold similar portfolios: Economy Minister Amir Peretz, Regional Cooperation Minister Ofir Akunis and Tourism Minister Orit Farkash-Hacohen.

It is the second visit in as many weeks by a senior Bahraini official after Foreign Minister Abdullatif Al-Zayani met in Jerusalem with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and visiting U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, where he announced Bahrain would open a new embassy in Israel.

“The opening of direct flights, and the travel of people between the countries, is an essential step towards building peace between our nations,” Farkash-Hacohen said. “I look forward to hosting the Minister and his delegation, showing them a taste of Israel’s scenes and heritage, and introducing them to Israel’s private tourism sector.”

Al Zayani is leading a delegation of about 40 business leaders and officials, including the heads of Bahrain’s main travel associations and the CEO of Gulf Air, which flew the delegation to Israel. The Bahrainis are scheduled for tours of Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, where they will meet with Netanyahu and Israeli cabinet members as well as with their Israeli industry counterparts.

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One of the items for negotiation is a proposal to turn Israel into a destination for Gulf Air flights from other countries, with Bahrain and Israel due to sign a memorandum of understanding in the field of tourism on Wednesday.

“For the past two months we have worked hard to turn peace from an idea to a reality, and the tourism MOU between the countries is an important step in that direction,” Farkash-Hacohen said.

“The tens of thousands of tourists who will arrive from Bahrain and the UAE when the skies reopen will experience Israel in the best way possible,” she noted. “Such visits contribute not only to building peace between the countries and people, but also towards strengthening Israel as a tourist destination for millions of people from around the world.”

Last week, Netanyahu said that he spoke with the crown prince of Bahrain and would visit the Gulf state soon.