Budget airline flydubai on Thursday launched direct flights to Tel Aviv, the first scheduled commercial service between the two cities, following the normalisation of ties between the UAE and Israel.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will be on hand for the arrival of the inaugural flight after its nearly four-hour trip, his spokesman said.
“PM Netanyahu will attend this morning the welcoming ceremony for the first @flydubai commercial flight that will arrive at Ben-Gurion International Airport,” Ofir Gendelman said in a tweet.
“These are the fruits of peace Dear Emirati tourists, welcome to Israel!”
The United Arab Emirates in September signed a US-brokered deal to formalise relations with Israel, the first such agreement by an Arab state in the Gulf.
“The start of scheduled flights will contribute to economic development and create further opportunities for investment,” flydubai CEO Ghaith al-Ghaith said when the service was announced earlier this month.
The Dubai carrier will fly the route twice daily, and Israeli airlines El Al and Israir are both expected to launch their commercial services between the cities next month.
Etihad Airways, based in the UAE capital Abu Dhabi, has said it will begin flying to Tel Aviv in March 2021.
The scheduled flights come as the UAE reportedly stopped issuing new visas to citizens of 13 mostly Muslim-majority countries, including Iran, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Somalia, according to a document issued by a state-owned business park.
The document, which was sent to companies operating in the park and was seen by the Reuters news agency, cited an immigration circular that came into effect on November 18.
It said applications for new employment and visit visas were suspended until further notice for nationals outside the UAE from countries including Afghanistan, Libya, and Yemen.