Elazar Cohen, Israel’s new commissioner to Expo 2020, which will be held in Dubai, said this week that the world fair would give Israel an opportunity to build closer ties with the United Arab Emirates and other Gulf states, the AP reported.

Cohen said in a briefing at Israel’s Foreign Ministry that the Israeli pavilion at the world’s largest exhibition would present technological products, but also showcase the country itself.

“There is curiosity, mixed with concern, about this thing called Israel, and we want to alleviate that concern,” said Cohen. ”We want to project that Israel is an open country, that Israel is a democratic country, that Israel is a country that respects all its citizens, that everyone finds their place in it.”

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that Israel’s participation in Expo 2020 represents “continued progress in normalization with the Arab states,” according to the report.

Noam Katz, the Foreign Ministry’s deputy director general for media and public affairs, was quoted in the report as saying, “We know we have a complicated image in the Arab world but we also know there is a lot of curiosity and there is a lot of knowledge about our special abilities.”

Israel’s message to the region was one of friendship, said Katz.

“Our message to the region is: ‘We live in this region, and we want to build neighborly relations with all those around us.’ ”

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