Israel's Foreign Minister Yair Lapid appointed Sunday the president of the Israel Hotel Association Amir Hayek as the country’s permanent ambassador to the United Arab Emirates, i24 news website said.
Hayek will replace Eitan Naeh, who held the post on a temporary basis for the past six months in Abu Dhabi.
According to a report by Israeli news website Walla, Naeh was informed about the decision only minutes before Hayek’s appointment was officially announced.
The new ambassador had previously headed the Manufacturers' Association of Israel and was Director General of the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor and he therefore lacks any political and security experience that would be an asset in handling issues related to Iran and Palestine.
Walla said Lapid chose the new ambassador as a message to officials in the UAE that the UAE-Israel relationship is a top priority for him.
Hayek is close to Lapid, who had appointed him a few weeks ago as a mediator to resolve an internal dispute at his Yesh Atid party.
“Amir Hayek, deeply experienced and knowledgeable in the fields of economy and tourism, is the right person to institutionalize the bridge between Israel and the UAE,” Lapid said following the appointment.
For his part, Hayek said: "The United Arab Emirates is an entire world of joint economic opportunity. This is an important and exciting mission, and we have a lot of work ahead of us.”
The UAE and Israel agreed to normalize relations in August.
The Gulf country had appointed Mohammad Mahmoud Al Khajah as its ambassador to Israel last February.
The Emirati government had approved establishing an embassy in Tel Aviv in January.