- Steve Jaffe
Hebrew language website and kosher food – UAE welcome Israeli travelers
The Emerati travel and tourism industry is putting its full resources into building the marketing and hospitality infrastructure to attract Israeli visitors.
On October 17, Etihad Airways rolled out a Hebrew-language website. A large banner greets the reader with “Welcome to Abu Dhabi” in Hebrew , and introduces the reader to the various websites options including travel destinations and safety protocols.
Etihad had originally planned to start service to Israel in later October or early November, but governments of the UAE and Israel have postponed startup of direct service between the two countries until January 2021 due to the Coronavirus situation. The UAE attracted 16 million tourists in 2019, and was aiming for 20 million in 2020 before the pandemic struck.
In a parallel development, the establishment of kosher catering facilities is already underway
in Dubai and Abu Dhabi. According to the Orthodox Union (OU), the world’s largest kosher supervising agency, UAE Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan was behind a directive issued by the Department of Culture and Tourism in Abu Dhabi, requesting that hotels prepare to offer kosher cuisine options to their guests, upon request. Working in cooperation with the local Jewish community, the OU will serve as the exclusive kosher authorizing organization.
Emirates Airline has already announced that its intention to open a kosher kitchen at its Dubai catering facility. Preparation is underway to produce kosher meals in collaboration with a company owned by the same family that runs Dubai’s only kosher catering facility and restaurant, Elli’s Kitchen. The airline expects production to begin in January, in time the inauguration of its Tel Aviv service.
Emirates will also provide kosher catering to other airlines operating in Dubai. In the past, the airline has acquired kosher meals from Thai Kosher in Bangkok. With the establishment of Elie’s Kitchen, the caterer has been providing kosher meals on demand for the Emirates. But the scope of production of kosher food required to match demand at the airline’s massive connecting hub at Dubai International Airport, along with the upcoming new flights to Israel, required the establishment of a dedicated standalone facility for kosher inflight catering.