January 31, 2024
On Sunday, January 28th, AJC’s Abu Dhabi Regional Director, Ambassador (Ret.) Marc Sievers, joined us in Maryland for a conversation about the UAE and its relationship with Israel. AJC Washington was able to sit down with Amb. Sievers’ for a wide ranging interview:
Looking at the year ahead, what is the primary goal for AJC Abu Dhabi?
Amb. Sievers: Our leading focus has been and continues to be finding ways to deepen and broaden understanding in the region and open more doors on behalf of Israel and the Jewish people. In previous years we have hosted public lectures, celebratory gatherings during Ramadan, and provided opportunities for regional leaders to meet counterparts in the US and in Israel with Project Interchange. Post-October 7, our work is taking shape in the form of closed-door conversations and Track II convenings, and we hope that we’ll soon resume to more visible work.
What is your current prediction about the impact of the Israel-Hamas war on the Abraham Accords?
Amb Sievers: We continue to hear from officials and interlocutors that the UAE and Bahrain remain fully committed to their respective relationships with Israel. The Jewish community in the UAE is well protected and supported. Nevertheless there continues to be misunderstanding and misinformation among those in our networks and in the region, and we will continue to show up as a trusted source for information and dialogue, especially over the coming months. Senior Emirati officials have told us that they look to work closely with AJC once the Gaza war is over to rebuild trust and channels of dialogue that have been shaken by the war.
What is most important for AJC Washington staff and lay leaders to know about AJC Abu Dhabi’s work with Arab communities and the Abraham Accords?
Amb Sievers: While AJC Abu Dhabi opened its doors in late 2021, AJC’s work in the region began decades ago. This means that our relationships – with government officials, with American and Israeli diplomats, and with the local Jewish communities – are trusted, and that there is longevity in the history and outlook of AJC’s work in the region.
What are the benefits for Jewish advocacy in the United States of AJC’s presence in Abu Dhabi?
Amb Sievers: AJC has been at the forefront of efforts to deepen ties in the region for many years. The United States has been a key player in establishing and sustaining those relationships, and we are proud to play a supporting role from the region where we can see the fruits of those efforts unfolding in real time. The UAE is a country with overwhelming international diversity and the broader MENA region has one of the largest and fastest growing youth populations. The fact that we, as AJC and as a Jewish community, are able to thrive and promote dialogue and understanding here in Abu Dhabi can be a source of hope for the American Jewish community.