Israel-Saudi Relations Soaring to New Heights?


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Israel-Saudi Relations Soaring to New Heights?

04 Apr 2018

Saudi Arabia opened its airspace to an inbound flight to Israel. This is an unprecedented move given the delicate relations between these neighbours. What could this mean for the balance of power in the Middle East?

Senior Research Fellow Victor Kattan comments on the implications of such a move on countries such as Turkey and Iran:

“Saudi Arabia’s decision to open its airspace to Air India flights from Mumbai to Tel Aviv has been widely interpreted as a signal of warming ties between Israel and Saudi Arabia. Not only does it reduce the flying time between Israel and India, but it also sends a stark warning to Iran: If Saudi airspace is now open to commercial flights to Israel, it  could it also be open to flights of an altogether different nature from Israel. In addition, the opening of a new air corridor over Saudi airspace between Israel and India is a signal that Saudi Arabia may be open to the negotiation of future air corridors through Saudi airspace.

For Israel, this could allow El Al, Israel’s national airline, to fly to Asia over Saudi Arabia’s airspace bypassing Turkey. Currently, most of El Al’s Asia bound flights fly over Turkey. Given Israel’s difficult and testy relationship with Turkey’s leader Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, improved relations between Israel and Saudi Arabia offer Tel Aviv and Riyadh new and promising commercial opportunities.”

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