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Jewish life has grown significantly in the UAE, says the Gulf nation’s Senior Rabbi


Rabbi Elie Abadie is the leader of the Jewish Council of the Emirates. This network of Jewish communal leaders is responsible for building Jewish life in the Gulf country. Since 2020, he has lived in Dubai.

The Jewish Council of the Emirates is a network of Jewish communal leaders working to build Jewish life in the Gulf. Elie Abadie, a 62-year old Arabic-speaking Rabbi, leads the group. Yossi lempkowicz writes that he has been living in Dubai since 2020. This year saw the signing the Abraham Accords which normalized relations between Israel and the UAE.


Rabbi Elie Abadie, who is a member of the Jewish community in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), likes to tell journalists when he meets with them.

The 62-year old senior rabbi of the UAE, who heads the Jewish Council of the Emirates (a network of Jewish communal leader who are building Jewish life within the Gulf nation), has been living in Dubai since 2020, the year of the signing of the Abraham Accords which normalized relations between the UAE, Israel.

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He was born in Beirut, Lebanon. His family lived there until age 10. After that, they moved to Mexico, then to New York City, where he attended Yeshiva University. He is both a rabbi as well as a gastroenteroloy specialist.

He was rabbi of the Edmond J. Safra Synagogue. He also founded the School of the Sephardic Academy of Manhattan, and headed the Jacob E. Safra Institute of Sephardic Studies (Yeshiva University).

He insists that he speaks Arabic, understands the culture, and is familiar with the Arab mentality.


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“Over the 10 years before I came to the UAE, my community had the privilege of hosting and welcoming businessmen and officers from the UAE in New York City. He told European Jewish Press (EJP) that they had made connections.

He was invited to Dubai in February 2019 to present to the local Jewish community, a Torah scroll in memory and honor of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. This gesture emphasized the desire of the country for tolerance and interfaith dialog and foreshadowed the Abraham Accords. H.H. Sheikh Zayed A’Y. He concluded the Torah scroll as a scribe for Rabbi Abadie.

“A second trip to UAE was planned for November 2019, when Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed was able receive us and the Torah scroll. I had the privilege of meeting him and talking with him in Arabic about our childhood in Lebanon and the significance of the Torah. Sheikh Nahayan bin Mobarak Al Nahyan was also present. “I presented the Torah scroll in ceremony and we left,” said the Rabbi.

He returned to the USA, but kept in touch the Emirates’ Jewish community. While I was in the USA, I was invited to two events of the Higher Committee of Human Fraternity in New York and Washington. This independent international committee is dedicated to promoting and preserving the human fraternity and coexistence values.

After the signing of the Abraham Accords Rabbi Abadie was requested by the UAE’s Jewish community to become the Senior Rabbi of the Jewish Council of the Emirates.

There were only 200 Jews living in the UAE at his time. He said, “Today, we have more than 600 known Jews and many more that are not yet known.” It is estimated that there are 2,000 Jews living in the UAE. This number has been growing steadily since the signing the Abraham Accords. Since normalization, the UAE has hosted more than half a billion Israeli tourists and Israelis. Rabbi Abadie predicts that this number will double within the next five-years.

The UAE has seen a significant increase in Jewish life. Many locations hold prayer services daily, as well as on Shabbat. There are more than 6 kosher restaurants, and 3 kosher caterers. A Mikvah is available, as well as a Jewish nursery. He said that the UAE has everything it needs to accommodate and cater for hundreds of thousands of Jewish businesspeople and tourists.

What is his role in Chief Rabbinate?

“Most important is to represent not just the UAE’s Jewish community to the government and society but also the Jewish People as a whole. I am the Ambassador of the Jewish People in the country and the region. My responsibilities include organizing the Jewish community and making sure that they have all the rituals and services they require. Kosher food, Jewish education, and pastoral care are just a few of the many responsibilities that I have. ”

He plans to provide all services necessary for the Jewish community, including religious, spiritual and educational as well as cultural milestones.

He revealed earlier this year that he plans to build the first functioning Jewish neighborhood in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). He said that he would like to see a neighborhood that includes a synagogue and private homes as well as condominiums, hotels, and shopping centers.

Six countries make up the GCC: Saudi Arabia (Kuwait), Kuwait, Qatar, Bahrain, Oman, and the United Arab Emirates.

Abadie is also the leader of the Association of Gulf Jewish Communities (an umbrella organization for Jewish communities in the GCC countries).

He believes that Saudi Arabia and other Arab nations will join the Abraham Accords. He stated, “Absolutely, sooner than later, it will occur.”

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