On WhatsApp group chats this weekend, more than a few Israelis were already talking about family vacations in the United Arab Emirates, after Israel and the federation of seven emirates announced the normalization of relations Thursday. “Will the next family reunion be in Dubai? “Has Dad already made reservations?” “What floor are our rooms on in the Burj Khalifa?” “Do you have to wear a burka?”
The excitement at the prospect of flying to Dubai, staying at a hotel in the world’s tallest building and shopping at megamalls is understandable. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke Thursday about travel and tourism. But the area where Israel stands to most to gain economically from ties with the UAE is defense and cybersecurity.
The UAE’s annual defense budget is estimated to be about $23 billion and growing, with about $20 billion of that going to arms procurement in the United States.