A number of prominent UAE public officials and personalities have taken to social media to broadcast their support for the deal, but some Emiratis are registering their opposition.
The agreement the United Arab Emirates (UAE) signed on August 13 to normalise relations with Israel has since sparked a range of reactions across the spectrum online.
The culmination of years of warming ties between the two states, the deal makes the UAE only the third Arab country after Egypt and Jordan to forge official ties with Israel.
In particular, a number of prominent Emirati public officials and media personalities have taken to Twitter to welcome the deal.
Hassan Sajwani, an outspoken cheerleader for the UAE government, has gone into overdrive in defense of the deal while highlighting cultural outreach with Israelis.
Sajwani and Sharjah’s Princess Hend bint Faisal al Qasimi also celebrated the fact that Muslims from the UAE could now visit the holy Al Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.
Finally we, Emiratis, will be able to pray at Al Aqsa Mosque 🇦🇪 🇮🇱 🕌 ❤️ pic.twitter.com/0E9c4FfrO6— حسن سجواني 🇦🇪 Hassan Sajwani (@HSajwanization) August 13, 2020
Now after almost 80 years of a ban of visiting the Holy Aqasa Mosque, all Muslims of the UAE are allowed to go pray in Jerusalem. Can we stop fighting now, and start living in peace? pic.twitter.com/vCTNiG1953— Hend F Q (@LadyVelvet_HFQ) August 13, 2020
Both tweets prompted a backlash.
Sajwani’s tweet mistakenly used a picture of the Dome of the Rock for Al Aqsa, which drew ridicule from some users.
Inshallah brother. One day I hope to be able to come to your country to visit the Burj Khalifa pic.twitter.com/PrS20IRJWV— ¥azan (@Yaznasty) August 14, 2020
Another pointed out that while Emiratis might be able to pray there, Palestinians cannot.
So Muslims of UAE can pray at Al Alqsa but Palestinians can't. Israeli settlers demolish Palestinian homes. But all of Israel’s land theft, ethnic cleansing, apartheid and brutal subjugation is okay. Because 'peace'.— Sidrah (@SidrahDP) August 14, 2020
2 mins of silence for Indians Muslims taken in by 'saviours'. https://t.co/zj3blWznVx
Hasan Al Mazrouei’s support was quite forthright to his 424,000 followers.
Meanwhile, Al Ain Zoo’s public outreach is now being referred to as “Zooplomacy”.
There have been public displays of penance too.
Mohammed bin Hamad broadcasted an apology to over 73,000 of his followers, saying that “I apologise to my Israeli brothers for any offense I had done in the past because I did not know who the enemy was and who was the friend.”
اعتذر لأشقائي الاسرائيليين عن اي اساءة قد بدرت مني في السابق لاني كنت لا اعرف من هو العدو ومن هو الصديق وعندما جربت (بعض العربان) تأكدت انكم حمل وديع مقارنتاً بهم— 💎محمد بن علي بن حمد🇦🇪 (@AD_2_) August 14, 2020
אני מתנצל בפני אחיי הישראלים על כל עבירה שעשיתי בעבר, כי לא ידעתי מיהו האויב ומי החבר.#Israel #الامارات_رساله_سلام
According to Al Araby, a video of an Emirati citizen aggrieved of having previously expressed hatred toward Israel was widely circulated on social media.
“I once made a video saying Israel should burn and other countries should pound it to the ground, but I came to realise that Israel is stronger than all of those other countries put together,” the blogger said.
“I would like to offer my apologies to Israel, its people and to Benjamin Netanyahu. A formal apology in a formal video and I pray the Israelis will forgive me,” he added.
“I was a kid, you know, a young kid and I was excited but now I understand. Your God and our God is one and our differences don’t get in the way between us”.
Influencer Faisal bin Suwaid argued over the historical context for “reconciliation with Jews”.
Others have attempted to voice their support in innovative ways.
A young Emirati girl was filmed playing Hatikvah, the Israeli anthem, with the sticker “parent of the year” at the bottom of the video, ostensibly in reference to her mother who encouraged her.
Song of Hope "HATIKVA" in the UAE, gives a good feeling and real hope— محمد سعود Mohammed Saud מוחמד סעוד 🇸🇦🇮🇱 (@mohsaud08) August 17, 2020
שיר התקווה בלב של כולנו מאיחוד האמירויות, וגם תקווה לשלום
نشيد السلام الوطني الإسرائيلي ( الأمل ) "هاتيكفا" بالإمارات تعطي شعوراً جيداً وأملاً حقيقياً
The video was shared by an official Arabic-language Israeli government account as well.
Many proclaimed that the deal is evidence the UAE was taking the lead in fostering peace in the region.
Anwar Gargash, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, hailed the decision as one that combined “political realism and a bold prospect for the future” and gushed over UAE ruler Mohammed bin Zayed’s stewardship and foresight, calling it a “brave decision from an extraordinary captain.”
قرار الامارات كان محل تداول منظم ونشط ضمن آلية صنع القرار في سياستنا الخارجية، وكعادة الشيخ محمد بن زايد اطلع على كافة الجوانب وقاد القرار ضمن رؤية استراتيجية تجمع بين الواقعية السياسية واستشراف جريء للمستقبل.— د. أنور قرقاش (@AnwarGargash) August 14, 2020
قرار شجاع من قائد إستثنائي.
Hend Al Otaiba, Director of Strategic Communications at UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs welcomed the decision and branded it a “historic day”.
Historic day.— هند مانع العتيبة Hend Al Otaiba (@hend_mana) August 13, 2020
The three-way call resulted in an agreement to stop Israeli annexation of Palestinian lands. UAE has worked strenuously over the past months for this diplomatic achievement, which will bring stability to the region and support the peace process.
There have been Emiratis who have expressed disagreement with the deal as well.
Some activists and dissidents abroad stressed that it violated the UAE constitution and issued a joint statementrejecting it.
Activist Ibrahim al Haram said the deal does not represent the will of the Emirati people, and that they were “with the Arab and Muslim peoples against normalisation with the Zionist entity.”
لاتمثل شعب الإمارات..— إبراهيم آل حرم (@IbrahimAlharam) August 13, 2020
شعب الإمارات مع الشعوب العربية والمسلمة ضد التطبيع مع الكيان الصهيوني، ومزبلة التاريخ تتسع لجميع الخونة مهما كانت أسماؤهم وأسماء عوائلهم.. https://t.co/aaNEiRjBJv
This sentiment was echoed by outside observers as well.
UAE’s agreement to normalize relations with Israel does not mean that the Emirati people will normalize. They have no say in this. They dare not express their real views publicly or privately.— Dima Khatib ديمة الخطيب (@Dima_Khatib) August 13, 2020
Egyptians and Jordanians still see Israel as an enemy despite decades of normalization
Another Emirati activist Hamad Al Shamsi claimed that the crackdown on free speech in the Emirates had a negative societal impact and left it unable to “reject this betrayal”.
ما كان للتطبيع الإماراتي مع الكيان الصهيوني ان يكون واقعاً الا بعد أن استطاعت أبوظبي تكبيل المجتمع بقوانين تجرم التعبير عن الرأي ومعارضة السياسات الحكومية والتعامل مع أصحاب الرأي الآخر بالأسلوب الأمني حتى اصبح مجتمعنا مجتمع اقل من عاجز حتى عن رفض هذه الخيانة #التطبيع_خيانة— حمد الشامسي (@ALshamsi789) August 13, 2020
For a political science professor, an emoji would have to suffice.
😪— Abdulkhaleq Abdulla (@Abdulkhaleq_UAE) August 13, 2020
The hashtag ‘Khalijis against normalisation’ trended in response as Gulf users looked to voice their disapproval to the agreement. The hashtag top-trended in Saudi Arabia, the UAE’s key ally.
#خليجيون_ضد_التطبيع “Khalijis against normalization” is the most trending hashtag in #SaudiArabia. It represents what Saudis actually stand for. #MBS is planning to initiate a similar agreement with #Israel but Saudis’ disapproval forced him to take a step back and postpone it. pic.twitter.com/B2HfRFKr9j— ياسر أبوهلالة (@abuhilalah) August 14, 2020
However, influential figures like Hamad al Hosani came out urging authorities to monitor those who were critical of normalisation and take action to extradite foreigners if necessary.
اتمنى من الجهات المختصة عندنا تتبع التغريدات لبعض المقيمين على ارض الدولة لاعتراضهم على سياسة الدولة وأبعادهم عن هذه الأرض لأنهم سيشكلون خطر على امن الوطن.— 🇦🇪 حمـد الحـوسنـي (@Hahosani) August 14, 2020
“I hope our authorities will monitor the tweets of some foreign residents for their objection to the country’s policy and deport them because they represent a danger to national security,” Hosani said.
Emirates Leaks reported sources that claimed several arrests have been made in the UAE over the past few days that have targeted Emiratis, Palestinians and Jordanians for opposing Abu Dhabi’s deal with Israel.