This 2024 - Let's Win the Battle of Headlines
update deskMiddle East

Israeli Cabinet member receives warm welcome in Riyadh

"There is a delegation here in the country for the first time. I hope they were received well. Welcome," said Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb.

Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz ahead of the opening session of a U.N. World Tourism Organization gathering in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 27, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.
Israeli Tourism Minister Haim Katz ahead of the opening session of a U.N. World Tourism Organization gathering in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sept. 27, 2023. Credit: Courtesy.

An Israeli delegation led by Tourism Minister Haim Katz received a warm, public welcome in Saudi Arabia on Wednesday during the opening session of a U.N. World Tourism Organization gathering.

“There is a delegation here in the country for the first time. I hope they were received well. Welcome,” Saudi Tourism Minister Ahmed Al Khateeb told state representatives gathered at the Four Seasons Hotel in Riyadh for the annual U.N. World Tourism Day celebrations.

“Everyone in this room understands that tourism is the bridge between people and between cultures,” added Al Khateeb.

Katz landed in Saudi Arabia on Tuesday, becoming the first Israeli Cabinet member to lead a public delegation to the Gulf kingdom.

“Partnership in tourism issues has the potential to bring hearts together and economic prosperity,” he said in a statement released by his office. “I will work to advance cooperation, tourism and the foreign relations of Israel.”

This week’s trip comes on the background of growing relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia as the two work toward a normalization deal. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) said last week that peace with the Jewish state is “getting closer every day.”

Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke openly on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly debate in New York about a coming agreement.

Earlier this month, an Israeli diplomatic delegation arrived for the first time in Saudi Arabia, for a meeting of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

Israeli Communications Minister Shlomo Karhi is scheduled to fly to Riyadh next week for a congress organized by the Universal Postal Union.

Meanwhile, a Saudi contingent traveled to the Samaria city of Ramallah this week for a meeting with Palestinian Authority chief Mahmoud Abbas. The delegation is headed by Saudi Ambassador to Jordan Nayef al-Sudairi, Riyadh’s first-ever non-resident envoy to the P.A. and consul general to Jerusalem.

After presenting his credentials to Abbas, al-Sudairi referred to bin Salman’s recent statements, in which “he clearly indicated his great interest in the Palestinian issue and the Palestinian people,” according to the P.A.-controlled Wafa news agency.

Al-Sudairi had also planned to pray at the Al-Aqsa mosque on the Temple Mount in Jerusalem during his stay, but reportedly nixed the visit due to fears of a Palestinian backlash.

Reports of the visit, which was planned to coincide with the celebrations of the prophet Muhammad’s birthday on Wednesday, led to fierce Palestinian criticism online, with some social media users attacking Saudi Arabia for negotiating a normalization agreement with Israel.

You have read 3 articles this month.
Register to receive full access to JNS.

Just before you scroll on...

Israel is at war.

JNS is combating the stream of misinformation on Israel with real, honest and factual reporting. In order to deliver this in-depth, unbiased coverage of Israel and the Jewish world, we rely on readers like you.

The support you provide allows our journalists to deliver the truth, free from bias and hidden agendas. Can we count on your support?

Every contribution, big or small, helps JNS.org remain a trusted source of news you can rely on.

Become a part of our mission by donating today
Topics
Comments
Thank you. You are a loyal JNS Reader.
You have read more than 10 articles this month.
Please register for full access to continue reading and post comments.
Never miss a thing
Get the best stories faster with JNS breaking news updates