Passengers on the Dubai-Tel Aviv leg earlier on Thursday were greeted on arrival by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who hailed the inaugural four-hour journey as the “realization of a dream.” 

Some 200 Israelis then boarded the plane for its return leg to the UAE and were greeted with the message “Welcome to Dubai” as they disembarked. The airline will operate twice-daily fights between the two cities.

The landmark flights come after Israel last week ratified a visa exemption deal with the UAE, its first such agreement with any Arab nation, as the two countries agreed to launch frequent direct flights from December.

Israel’s warming ties with the Gulf States also saw it receive Bahrain’s first ever government delegation last week, with officials including Trump’s Middle East envoy Avi Berkowitz arriving on what was Gulf Air’s first flight to Tel Aviv.

Bahrain and the UAE normalized ties with Israel in the summer, in a deal known as the Abraham Accords, overseen by US President Donald Trump and signed at the White House. The agreement was later altered to include Sudan.

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