United Arab Emirates to implement Holocaust education in schools

The decision is the latest in a warming of relations between the UAE and Israel


The flag of United Arab Emirates flies at half-mast outside the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi on May 13, 2022, following the death of UAE's President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan. - UAE's President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al-Nahyan died aged 73 after a years-long battle with illness, triggering a period of mourning and a handover of power in the oil-rich Gulf state. (Photo by Karim SAHIB / AFP) (Photo by KARIM SAHIB/AFP via Getty Images)

The United Arab Emirates will add Holocaust education to its national school curriculum, two years after normalising relations with Israel through the Abraham Accords, the country’s embassy confirmed on Thursday. 

In a statement, the embassy said: “In the wake of the historic Abraham Accords, the UAE will now include the Holocaust in the curriculum for primary and secondary schools.” 

The UAE is the first Arab state to introduce Holocaust education in its national curriculum. 

In a November event in Washington DC, first reported by The Times of Israel, Dr Ali al Nuaimi, one of the mediators of the Abraham Accords, said: “Memorialising the victims of the Holocaust is crucial. Public figures failed to speak the truth because a political agenda hijacked their narrative, yet a tragedy on the scale of the Holocaust targets not only Jews, but humanity as a whole, 

“Public figures and scholars should be encouraged to discuss the Holocaust and protect common human values while leaving political differences.” 

The education will reportedly be developed in collaboration with Israel’s official Holocaust Memorial Yad Vashem in Jerusalem. 

On Twitter, the United States’ Special Envoy to Monitor and Combat Antisemitism (SEAS) Deborah E Lipstadt, said she was “pleased to see this important step by the United Arab Emirates. Holocaust education is imperative for humanity and too many countries, for too long, continue to downplay the Shoah for political reasons. I commend the UAE for this step and expect others to follow suit soon.” 

Since the 2020 United States-brokered Abraham Accords, contact and cooperation between the UAE and Israel has flourished. 

The first commercial flight between Tel Aviv and Abu Dhabi took place in August 2020, while two months later a mutual visa exemption agreement was reached allowing Israeli and Emirati citizens to visit each other’s countries visa-free. 

An Israeli embassy opened in the UAE in January 2021 and a UAE embassy opened in Tel Aviv in May 2021. 

In November last year, the UAE’s Ambassador to the UK, HE Mansoor Abulhoul, attended a screening of a documentary film highlighting the UAE’s emphasis on religious pluralism, in which the UAE’s small Jewish community presented a Torah scroll to the country’s ruler Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan. 

An interfaith compound that will be used for worship and “inter-religious dialogue”, featuring a mosque, church, and synagogue called the Abrahamic Family House is under construction on Saadiyat Island, Abu Dhabi. 

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