In late November 2021, in close partnership with the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Embassy to Washington D.C., a delegation of 40 members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps – from 20 countries – visited the UAE for a week of high-level meetings with government representatives, think tanks, business leaders, faith communities, as well as spent a unique communal Shabbat with the Jewish Council of the Emirates, the local affiliate of the WJC. The vision of the delegation is to serve as a long-term leadership bridge between future leaders in Jewish communities worldwide and their counterparts in the UAE.
Among other noteworthy diplomatic meetings, the delegation met with H.E. Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance; H.E. Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; H.E. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Hedaya and Chairman of the UAE Parliament’s Defense Affairs, Interior & Foreign Affairs Committee; H.E. Amir Hayek, Israeli Ambassador to the UAE; and with distinguished students from the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy.
"Who would have dreamed 50 or 20 or even 3 years ago that a large delegation of Jewish leaders were going to be received by members of the real of a Muslim country and that right there we were going to celebrate Shabbat, proudly wearing the kippot in the streets without fear to be attacked," writes WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Member Adela Smeke.
“There is nothing innate or natural about the conflict, as it is instead a tragedy between brothers, two peoples of similar lineage, born of the Middle East. Jews and Arabs should not find themselves in conflict. The hug with which the Emiratis now approaches Israel and the Jewish community shows how different the past could have been, and how different the future may be,” writes WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Member Adam Hummel.
“What we are witnessing is a once-in-a-generation opportunity. The greatest chance for broader peace in the Middle East is the expansion of the Abraham Accords to other countries in the region. This will happen as countries become convinced that peace is in their interest, and see that the UAE and the other parties to the Accords are recognized, admired, and rewarded for the bold steps they have taken,” writes WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corp Member Ariel Rodal-Spieler.
"Just 18 months ago, it would have been inconceivable for 40 Jews from all around the world, some carrying only Israeli passports, to have been openly able to travel around an Arab country, wearing kippot, and not only feeling safe, but welcomed. And yet that is what just happened," Phil Rosenberg of the WJC-affiliated Board of Deputies of British Jews and a member of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps.
"The warm embrace of Jewish people in the UAE makes clear that a dramatic paradigm shift is taking place. As antisemitism and anti-Israel sentiments surge in Western countries, a quiet and tacit acceptance of Israel and Jewish communities is finding a toehold in Arab states," writes WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Member Aviva Klompas.
“Visiting the UAE feels like stepping into the future. It’s a forward-thinking country, and regional and global peace and prosperity are central to its world view. These aren’t buzz words, but lived core values, and the integrity and warmth of this message was affirmed in every engagement,” writes WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps Chaya Singer.
The WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps is the flagship program of the World Jewish Congress, under the vision and leadership of WJC President Ronald S. Lauder. This program empowers the new generations of outstanding Jewish leaders. We are a highly selective worldwide network of 350 members from 60 countries receiving opportunities, experience, and skills to impact Jewish interests through diplomacy and public policy.
Our objective is to represent and strengthen the Jewish communities, ensuring their strong voice in global affairs today - and for decades to come.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps members Gabriel Buznick (Argentina) and Ezequiel Sporn (Argentina) spoke with UAE Consulate General of Argentina about the recent WJC delegation to the UAE.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps members Philip Rosenberg and Efrat Sopher (UK) attended the Embassy of the United Arab Emirates in the United Kingdom’s celebration of the 50th anniversary of its establishment.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps member Efrat Sopher hosted diplomatic trainee Faisal Rawas Alrashdi from the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy for a Shabbat dinner during his visit to the UK. Sopher and Alrashdi Lord Baron Polak, a member of the House of Lords, and visit the Lauderdale Road synagogue with the S&P Community’s Senior Rabbi Joseph Dweck.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps member Vivianne Tesone gave a public presentation about the WJC JDCorps delegation to the UAE to her community in Colombia. With member Adela Smeke-Mizrahi (Mexico) was a guest speaker.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps members Sebastian Watenberg (Brazil) and Ariel Krok (Brazil) spoke with UAE Consulate General of São Paulo, Brazil, about the recent WJC delegation to the UAE and potential projects in the future.
WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps members Randall Fried (US) spoke with UAE Consulate General of California, USA about the recent WJC delegation to the UAE and potential projects in the future.
Chairman, Hedayah, and Chairman of the Defense Affairs, Interior and Foreign Affairs Committee, Federal National Council
H.E. Ali Rashid Al Nuaimi currently serves as the first chairman of the International Steering Board of Hedayah, the International Center of Excellence for Countering Violent Extremism, based in Abu Dhabi. He is also the founder and chairman of the World Council of Muslim Communities. Furthermore, Al Nuaimi is a founding member of the Forum for Promoting Peace in Muslim Societies and the first secretary general of the Muslim Council of Elders. Al Nuaimi is also the founder and chairman of Al-Majal Media and the editor-in-chief of Al-Ain News Portal, a comprehensive Arab news portal. Additionally, he is the founder of 7D News based in London, covering international news. As a pioneer of educational reform and policy in the UAE, Al Nuaimi served as the chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University and the chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Education and Knowledge in his capacity as a member of the Executive Council of the Government of Abu Dhabi.
Minister of State for Foreign Trade
HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi was appointed the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, following the new UAE Government structure in July 2020, and has been assigned a file to attract the best talents and competencies to serve the strategic direction of the UAE. HE also oversees the development of non-oil foreign trade sectors and the expansion of global partnerships, in addition to enhancing the investment climate in the country, in order to cement its position as a major business destination at the regional and global levels.
He had held the position of Minister of Climate Change and Environment previously, during which he supervised the implementation of the UAE's strategies locally, advancing environment and climate actions. He also led the country’s efforts in limiting and adapting to the repercussions of climate change at the global level, while also focussing on the preservation of the UAE’s biodiversity through the development and implementation of a set of effective policies and measures.
Prior to assuming his ministerial position, HE Al Zeyoudi served as the permanent representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), and Director of the Department of Energy Affairs and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation.
He began his career as a petroleum engineer at the Abu Dhabi Marine Area Operating Company (ADMA-OPCO) before moving to the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (Masdar), where he worked on the development of renewable energy technologies and solutions. He has played a major role in the UAE’s successful diplomatic campaign in 2009 to host the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in the capital, Abu Dhabi.
HE Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al-Zeyoudi holds a Bachelor's degree in Petroleum Engineering from the University of Tulsa; a Master's degree in Business Administration from the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT); a Master's degree in Project Management from the British University in Dubai; and a PhD in Strategy, Program and Project Management from SKEMA Business School in France.
Director-General, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center
H.E. Yousef Al Obaidli is the director-general of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center in Abu Dhabi and the director-general of the Founder’s Memorial for the late Sheikh Zayed, founding father of the United Arab Emirates. Al Obaidli has been the face of cultural tourism in the UAE; he has managed crucial cultural destinations across Abu Dhabi, under the umbrella of the Ministry of Presidential Affairs. Al Obaidli was born in Abu Dhabi. He received his doctorate in business administration from the United Arab Emirates University.
Minister of Tolerance
HE Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan is the Minister of Tolerance, which was announced in October 2017. His Excellency joined the Federal Government in 1992. He held several positions in the Federal Government including the Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, the Minister of Education and the Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development.
Abrahamic Family House
Founder & Executive Director, Sharaka Project
Majid Al Sarrah has an experience of 20 years working in various public and private sectors. he holds a bachelor degree in law and economics, he continued his academic endeavor by attaining his master degree in international business and a master degree in public policy, in addition to a master degree in international law, as well as a doctorate degree in economics and policy and he is doing his second doctorate in business administration at the moment.
Majid is an expert in public policy who was certified from London school of economics and he worked on various policy advising projects both in public and private sectors in the UAE that enhances the public policies towards sustainability and prosperity.
He conducted various research projects in social and economic sustainability, as well as international legal matters, he is an expert in aviation law and air transport and contributed to a lot of related legislation regarding regulating aviation matters.
Majid is a co-founder and board member of Sharaka which is an organization promoting peace and building ties between people.
Founder, Loay Academy
Loay Academy aims to bridge the gap between the West and the Arab world. Since the Abraham Accords were signed, he started focusing more on Israel, Jewish, and Arab relations and educating all sides.
Founder, Leaders of Tomorrow
author of UAE 101 Stories
Efrat Sopher (United Kingdom)
Tremendously inspired by H.E. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi: “We don’t just want peace with a government. We intend to have an active relationship with the people,” said H.E. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, Chairman of Hedaya and Chairman of the UAE Parliament’s Defense Affairs, Interior & Foreign Affairs Committee, with regards to the Abraham Accords.
He urged the members of the WJC Jewish Diplomatic Corps who flew to the UAE from over 20 countries to encourage their governments to support the Abraham Accords and help show the added value of working towards peace in the region. “Whenever there’s an opportunity to support peace, we should be there together.”
Gila Baumöhl (Germany)
Three interesting and inspiring days with the WJC JD Corps in Abu Dhabi have come to an end. It has been a great time filled with hospitality, openness, interesting talks, empathy, mutual understanding - and lots of delicious food:
Meeting with the Ambassadors of Canada H.E. Marcy Grossmann and Israel H.E. Amir Hayek, exchanging thoughts with students of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy, listening to author Roudha Al Marri and Louay Al Shareef, hearing about Mubadala investment company's work, learning about the Abrahamic Family Houses, visiting Masdar City, Qasr Al Hosn and the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, having an inspiring discussion with the Chairman of the Hedaya Think Tank H.E. Dr. Ali Al Nuaimi, seeing the Louvre Abu Dhabi.
Eugene Balin (Germany)
The last few days have shown here on the ground what interreligious acceptance, which is called tolerance here, means in reality. I am deeply impressed by this. While wearing a kippa in Europe can mean risking his life or at least physical integrity, Jews in the UAE can not only move freely, but practice their religion freely in real terms. The UAE has taken an impressive leadership role not only in the field of economy in its own region, but also in the field of peaceful coexistence.
Randall Fried (United States of America)
I can honestly say I love Dubai or moreover the #UAE but not because of the glitzy buildings and over the top nature of Dubai. It's the people. People like @lalshareef and the students of the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy and so many others. #peopletopeople #wjcjdcorps #שלום