RIYADH – Saudi Airlines, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s national carrier, announced over the weekend that it had started direct flights between the Kingdom’s capital of Riyadh and the Israeli capital of Tel Aviv since Friday, strengthening suspicions of a secret alliance forming between both Middle Eastern countries, formerly considered enemies, against the growing regional influence of Iran.
“The matter of direct flights between the two countries was meticulously examined in the several cabinet meetings, and the result of the negotiations has been indeed satisfactory. I am glad to inform you that two of our Boeing-787s landed in Ben Gurion International Airport yesterday, 7 am GMT,” Saudi Foreign Ministry spokesman Abdullah Mutheeb told AFP.
Tel Aviv and port city of Haifa are the probable destinations for flights originating in Riyadh. Eastern Jerusalem also has many Arab residents who have relatives from Gulf countries.
The deal has come on the back of Saudi King Salman’s explicit instructions to his Transport Minister to coordinate with Israeli counterparts to facilitate the historic initiation of direct flights between both nations’ capitals.
The hopeful move is also being backed by Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu in the hope that it will help the reviled country to come out of its regional isolation and begin a new, more peaceful chapter of diplomacy with its former Arab adversaries.
Previously, thousands of Arab businessmen had to travel through European or Turkish airports before transferring to flights destined for Tel Aviv.
Aside from increasing hopes of lasting peace in the region, the move is also expected to facilitate increased investment in the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange by affluent Arab entrepreneurs.
Although there are still no official diplomatic relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia, the countries have shifted loyalties in light of the growing regional influence of Iran, which both countries consider to be a major enemy.
Under Prime Minister Netanyahu, Israel has clandestinely tightened relations with Saudi Arabia. The country has also expressed explicit support for Kingdom’s military campaign in the impoverished country of Yemen, the poorest Arab nation.-Daily Pakistan