Israel-United Arab Emirates conference under threat of terrorism
Affected Countries: israel;
There was concern about terrorism at a joint Israel and United Arab Emirates influencer conference in Dubai in early April, participants told The Jerusalem Post.
According to Israeli participants in the four-day event, UAE security services had warned the organizers there was intelligence indicating that Iran was interested in the event.
“The organizers told us that UAE Security notified them that there was chatter about how the Iranians were aware we were in the Emirates,” Emily Schrader, founder of Social Lite Creative, told the Post.
To mitigate the threat, the organizers implemented several security precautions and notified the participants.
“We were sitting in the bus and they just told us that for further security and just to be on the safe side, ‘I just want to let you know there are some threats in terms of maybe Iranians.’” Yoseph Haddad, a prominent Israeli-Arab activist and influencer, told the Post.
The concern was that Iranian or terrorist operatives might “message us in a good way, and then try to set a meeting, and eventually to try to kidnap one of us: one of the people in the group,” said Haddad.
As a precaution, the participants were advised that “we must be careful not to meet with people we don’t know, as well as not give our hotels or locations to anyone who might try to “befriend” us via social media, because there were known attempts,” said Schrader.
Despite the reported security threat, participants emphasized that they never felt threatened during the event.
“I felt very secure in Dubai; I had no problems going anywhere,” said Haddad. “In the restaurants, in the streets, everybody was really nice and I even took photos with the Israeli flag and the Emirati flag.”
“I didn’t feel unsafe at all,” Schrader said. “I was hyper-aware of those around me and who was noticing and who wasn’t. I have visited many Arab countries and I felt safer there than in any other country.”
The Israeli-UAE influencer event was organized by the NGO Israel-is in cooperation with the Strategic Affairs Ministry. The event also received the official sanctioning of the Emirati government.
The objective of the “Cousins’ Meet-Up” was to build “bridges” between Israelis and Emiratis, and through social media expose them to the emerging sentiment of peace in the region. During the event, Israeli and Emirati influencers toured Dubai and made videos together.
Israel-is is an organization that prepares young Israelis who travel abroad how they can represent their country and answer tough questions that they may encounter. The Strategic Affairs Ministry is tasked with improving Israel’s image abroad by fighting disinformation and misinformation about the state, and countering BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) efforts against Israel and its citizens.
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between Israel and the UAE, Israeli tourists have flocked to the Gulf state. The Tourism Ministry estimated that 130,000 Israeli tourists have visited the Emirates since normalization.
In January, the National Security Council issued a warning to Israeli tourists about visiting several countries, including the UAE. The NSC was concerned about threats made by Iranian officials.
UAE security services seemed aware of the threat as well, and acted accordingly.
“Actually, the fact we were notified made me feel even more secure that the UAE is on top of their game and has a vested interest in maintaining this peace,“ Schrader said.