On 29 August 2020, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Government’s Emirates News Agency (Wakalat Anba’a al Emarat, or ‘WAM’) publicly announced that H.H. Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, issued Federal Decree Law No. 4 of 2020 (the “UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law“), abolishing Federal Decree Law No. 15 of 1972 Concerning the Arab League Boycott of Israel (the “UAE Israeli Boycott Law“).  The UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law follows the announcement of the historic peace agreement between the UAE and Israel (known as the “UAE-Israel Abraham Accords” – Treaty of Peace, Diplomatic Relations and Full Normalization between the UAE and the State of Israel) on 13 August 2020 issued jointly by H.H. Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces, US President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  Officially signed on 15 September 2020 , the UAE-Israel Abraham Accords (available in full here) outlines a number of areas of intended cooperation, and the establishment of full diplomatic ties in exchange for Israel’s suspension of further annexation of Palestinian territories, between the two states under Article 5 and supplemented in its Annex.  This includes: (1) finance and investment; (2) civil aviation; (3) visas and consular services; (4) innovation, trade and economic relations; (5) healthcare; (6) science, technology and peaceful uses of outer-space; (7) tourism, culture and sport; (8) energy; (9) environment; (10) education; (11) maritime arrangements; (12) telecommunications and post; (13) agriculture and food security; (14) water; and (15) legal cooperation.

The UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law, which was published in a supplement to UAE Federal Official Gazette No. 685 dated 27 August 2020 (but circulated publically by the UAE Ministry of Justice on 15 September 2020 – the date of the signing of the UAE-Israel Abraham Accords), has a specific effective legal start date of 16 August 2020.  The UAE Israeli Boycott Repeal Law allows individuals and companies in the UAE to now enter into agreements with Israeli firms, citizens and residents as part of commercial or financial operations or dealings of any other nature. It is now permissible to enter, exchange or possess Israeli goods and products of all kinds and trade in them in the UAE, which was previously prohibited under the UAE Israeli Boycott Law.

Notwithstanding these developments, as of now, there have been no changes to US antiboycott laws with respect to the UAE.  In short, if a particular boycott request would have been problematic or reportable before the issuance of the UAE Israel Boycott Repeal Law, it remains problematic or reportable today. 

Additionally, on 11 September 2020, the Kingdom of Bahrain (Bahrain – who along with the UAE is a fellow member of the Gulf Cooperation Council – “GCC“) had also announced its decision to establish full diplomatic relations with Israel through the Bahrain News Agency (BNA).  On the same day as the signing of the UAE-Israel Abraham Accords, Bahrain and Israel also entered into a separate historic peace agreement (known as the “Bahrain-Israel Abraham Accords” – Declaration of Peace, Cooperation and Constructive Diplomatic and Friendly Relations) covering the same areas of intended cooperation (available here in full).

Read the rest of this article by Kerry B. Contini, Borys Dackiw, Dr. Habib Al Mulla, Samir Safar-Aly and Daniel Andreeff, which discusses the Israeli Boycott Law, the US Anti-boycott Law and key takeaways, at our Sanctions blog here.