Warming Hearts and Building Middle East Peace

A calligrapher from UAE touches the heart of Israel’s president

By Yossi Aloni | | Topics: UAE, Abraham Accords

Tawfik Zakaria is a talented calligrapher who lives in Dubai. Twice in the last week, he tweeted pictures of his works of art that moved Israel President Reuven (Rubi) Rivlin.

In the first tweet he posted a picture of the word “Koran” in Hebrew, framed in official embroidery. “I decided to dedicate this calligraphy to the late Yosef Yoel Rivlin, who translated the Koran into the Hebrew language and is the father of the President of Israel, Reuven Rivlin,” Tawfik wrote in a tweet that accompanied the photo. A few days later, Tawfik posted another tweet with a calligraphy of the president’s name in Hebrew and Arabic, with the Burj Khalifa tower in the background. “It is making its way to Israel,” Tawfiq wrote of the work and, additionally, he also blessed his followers on a happy tolerance day for all peace lovers.

Tawfik delivered his special works through members of the United Arab Emirates-Israel Business Forum who had recently visited Dubai, and some of these new friends still visit him these days. The Israel-UAE Business Council works to connect people and businesses in Israel and in the United Arab Emirates with the aim of strengthening interpersonal, commercial, and cultural ties as a basis for warm peace between the countries. To date, more than 2,500 people and organizations from the two countries have registered for the forum led by Dorian Barak, Justine Zwerling, Asher Fredman, and Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, Fleur Hassan-Nahoum. The forum operates not only in the field of business, but also in diverse fields such as culture, academia, and art, and has helped bring the works of Tawfik Zakaria to Israel.

The forum stated that “Zakaria’s art represents the tolerance, openness, and mutual goodwill that underlie the warm bond expanding cooperation between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

Members of the forum contacted the President’s Residence, where they forwarded documentation of the works to Rivlin and told him about the moving dedication. The President, who was very moved by the gesture, asked to invite Tawfik to visit him as soon as he was allowed to travel to Israel.

In a conversation with Tawfik, he expressed astonishment and excitement at the impact his tweets had and could not believe that they had reached the President’s table. Tawfik plans to arrive in Israel in December and very much hopes that a presidential visit can be included in his plans. Zakaria is a Muslim Indian from Kochi, where an ancient Jewish community lives. He is a chef by profession, a lover of history, and calligrapher by gift. He paints and illustrates in Hebrew, Arabic, Aramaic, Sumerian, Syriac and English, and is well known and loved by the Jewish community in Dubai and India.

As is also well known, President Rivlin is a descendent of a family with deep roots in Jerusalem. His father, Professor Yosef Yoel Rivlin, was an Orientalist who translated the Koran and the collection of tales of “One Thousand and One Nights” into Hebrew.

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