Photo Credit: WZO
World Zionist Organization chairperson Yaakov Hagoel and H.E. Ahmed Obaid Almansoori from the UAE at an event in Basel, Switzerland marking 125 years since the First Zionist Congress, August 29, 2022

H.E. Ahmed Obaid AlMansoori of the United Arab Emirates, Founder of the First Holocaust Memorial Gallery in the Arab World, was among the key speakers at the 125th Anniversary of First Zionist Congress in Basel.

AlMansoori revealed a rare letter handwritten and signed by Theodor Herzl, currently on display at his museum in Dubai.


“Jews have always been an important part of the Middle East and I am committed to telling the story of the Jewish People and of Zionism to the Arab World,” said AlMansoori, who is also the Founder of the Crossroads of Civilization Museum in Dubai and a former member of the UAE Federal National Council.

The Crossroads of Civilization Museum started as a private collection in AlMansoori’s home in 2006, and went public in 2011 at the Emirati government’s request, who identified its potential.

Located at the Royal House on the main road in the historical area of Dubai, the award-winning museum has housed historical Jewish documents, letters and coins since its established – long before the signing of the Abraham Accords peace treaties.

AlMansoori has dedicated a significant portion of his museum to displaying the rich history of the Jewish People in the Middle East, highlighting that Jews are an indigenous and important part of the region.

On Holocaust Remembrance Day, 2021 (Yom HaShoah), and in the wake of the peace treaties signed between Israel and Arab states, AlMansoori took his commitment to promoting Jewish-Arab relations even further by establishing the first and only Holocaust Memorial Gallery in the Arab world.

The Crossroads of Civilizations Museum Holocaust Memorial Gallery has since evolved into an international hub for Holocaust commemoration events and ceremonies; a center for advancing peace, tolerance and Jewish-Arab solidarity in the Middle East; and an important place of gathering for the Emirati Jewish community.

AlMansoori, who has dedicated his life to advancing peace, tolerance and promoting the story of the Jewish People as an indigenous part of the Middle East, spoke on stage at the 125th anniversary of the First Zionist Congress and revealed a rare letter written and signed by the father of Zionism, Theodor Herzl, which he acquired in 2016 in Vienna, and which has since been on display in his museum in Dubai as a part of a collection of historical Jewish documents and items presented to the large audiences vising the museum each year.

The letter – written in 1897, exactly 125 years ago – was written and signed by Theodor Herzl and has been authenticated.

In the letter, Herzl writes that he cannot accept the prospective applicant to the organization which he established. Evidence indicates that this is a refusal to accept the applicant to the Zionist Organization, days before the First Zionist Congress in Basel, Switzerland. During these years, Herzl was extremely active in promoting the Zionist vision and the establishment of the a homeland for the Jewish People, while partnering with key figures who helped him advance his objectives.

“It is of upmost importance that the young generations of the Middle East will learn about Judaism, Zionism and Israel – this will strengthen peace, not only between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, but between the entire region,” AlMansoori said from the podium during his address.

“It is important that we live side-by-side with mutual respect for one another, understanding the history and values of each nation and its people.”

Yaakov Hagoel, Chairman of the World Zionist Organization, praised the UAE historian, saying, “The unique work of H.E. AlMansoori to commemorate the Holocaust in the UAE is a worthy example for the Arab World on the importance in changing perceptions and discussion on the Holocaust and the importance of the State of Israel.

“Herzl never dreamed that the day would come that a brave Arab leader would participate in a Zionist Congress together with thousands of Jews from all over the world whose goal is strengthening and development of the independent and sovereign State of Israel.”


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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for, and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.