The Middle East is changing after the visit of Donald Trump to Riyadh and the direct flight of his aircraft from there to Tel-Aviv. For 70 years, since the creation of the Jewish state no Arab nation was permitting overflights to Israel. Saudi Arabia does not recognize Israel and as such all flights to Israel had to take a circuitous route over the Red Sea as Saudi airspace was closed to flights to Israel. EL Al the Israeli airline was flying to Mumbai over the Red Sea and took seven and half hours. On Wednesday, it was reported by Outlook magazine that on an application by Air India for direct flights to Israel over Saudi airspace the government of Saudi Arabia had given the necessary permission.

Air India planes will fly directly to Tel Aviv from New Delhi saving flight time of over two hours. The decision will be implemented from March this year.

Welcome news

This is welcome news and was the result of the recent visit by the Israeli PM to India. Modi and Netanyahu got along well and are personal friends. Modi also is well respected in Saudi Arabia where he, like Donald Trump, was awarded the highest civil honor by the kingdom. Saudi is India's 4th largest trading partner and the trade per year is over 25 billion dollars. In addition, nearly 3 million Indians work as expatriates in Saudi Arabia. The grant of the use of Saudi airspace to Air India shows that Modi has a good standing in the Middle East. One can recollect that the UAE crown prince was the chief guest at the Republic Day military parade last year.

Implacable foe earlier

Saudi Arabia, for 70 years, was the implacable foe of the Jewish state. The country, on Wednesday, granted approval to Air India to use its airspace to operate direct flights from New Delhi to Tel Aviv, indicative of a thaw in the relationship between Saudi Arabia and Israel. Haaretz has reported that this is the first time the Saudis are allowing flights over its airspace to Israel

Future

Air India, the official carrier of India, has applied to the DGCA (Director of Civil Aviation) the regulatory authority for air travel in India for permission to fly direct flights from New Delhi to Tel-Aviv. Apart from cutting the flight time, the fare will also be cheaper and more tourists will be able to visit Israel from India. Crown prince Salman is a pragmatic man and he is changing the direction of Saudi Arabia from a medieval outlook to a more modern future. He has already allowed cinemas to open in the kingdom and women to drive. The Arabian giant is coming to terms with Israel.