The Kingdom of Morocco continues to strengthen its diplomatic, economic and tourism relations with Middle Eastern countries. Thus, from next December, the national airline, Royal Air Maroc, has announced the launch of two new direct connections; Casablanca - Tel Aviv (Israel) and Casablanca - Dubai (United Arab Emirates). The flights will start on 12 December and 16 December respectively.
On the one hand, the re-establishment by Royal Air Maroc of a direct route connecting Morocco to the Emirati monarchy is a further step in the development of relations between the two countries. The UAE's decision to open a consulate in Laayoune, making it the first Arab country to do so, has only strengthened these ties between "two brotherly countries", according to Jamal Seif Al-Jarwan, Secretary General of the UAE's International Investors Council, a few days ago. Thus, after more than six years of trying to reactivate the air link that was interrupted in 2003 because of the war in Iraq, the direct route is once again available.
The announcement of a direct connection between Mohammed V airport in Casablanca and Ben Gurion airport in Tel Aviv was made public a few months after Yair Lapid, Israel's foreign minister, inaugurated his diplomatic mission in Rabat with an official visit to the country. Moreover, the establishment of this route has only been possible thanks to the air agreement signed by the two powers last January, which allows national airlines to serve the two countries.
All this is taking place in the context of the normalisation of relations between Israel and Morocco, a process that has been underway since December last year and in which the United States has played a major role. Through the 'Abraham Accords', the Israeli state has been officially recognised by several Arab countries. Among them is the Kingdom of Morocco which, in exchange for having the Moroccan status of Western Sahara recognised by former president Donald Trump, agreed to accept the Israeli nation.
In the midst of this process of activating diplomatic and commercial relations, a Royal Air Maroc press release stated that the opening of this link also "responds to the expectations of the Moroccan community established in Israel, which has strong ties with its country of origin". Morocco estimates that around 70 000 Israeli citizens are of Alawi origin, and it is expected that 200 000 inhabitants of Israel will visit Morocco during the first year of the route, according to the then Minister of Tourism, Nadia Fettah Alaoui.
For the time being, departures to Israel will be on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Sundays, while returns will be on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with an average price of 330 euros for a return trip. However, although for the moment there will be three flights per week, it is hoped that "in a short time this will increase to five flights per week", the statement said.
Thanks to these two new additions, the Moroccan airline is expanding its catalogue of destinations, which already includes more than 170 countries. However, the Moroccan airline also joined the Oneworld alliance in 2020, making it the first African airline to join the alliance. This alliance, created in 1999, brings together some of the best airlines in the world, including British Airways, Iberia, Japan Airlines, S7 Airlines, Malaysia Airlines, Qatar Airways and SriLankan Airlines.
In this sense, through reputable airlines such as Royal Air Maroc, or the initiatives of shipping companies such as GNV, Morocco aims to revive its tourism, a sector that is one of the country's major sources of income and which, as a result of the COVID-19 crisis, has been greatly harmed. In fact, since the beginning of the pandemic in 2020, income from tourism has fallen by more than 50% in Morocco.