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UPDATE - Gas explosions hit tourists resorts in UAE in wake of Israel deal

Three people were killed and several others were injured on Monday in two separate explosions in the United Arab Emirates’ capital Abu Dhabi and its tourism hub Dubai, the police and local media said.

The Abu Dhabi government media office said two people were killed in the blast in the capital, which the National daily reported had hit the KFC and Hardees restaurants on the city’s Rashid bin Saeed Street.

The street is also known as a main road to the airport, where top aides to U.S. President Donald Trump and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are expected to land later on Monday, in a historic trip between Israel and another Arab country.

The police said the Abu Dhabi incident also caused several minor and moderate injuries, and residents of the building and surrounding areas were evacuated. The Abu Dhabi government media office said the blast was caused by a “misalignment in the gas container fittings following refuelling”.

Photos published on social and local media showed extensive damage to the two restaurants with a white plume of smoke rising from the ground floor of the building.

In Dubai, one person was killed when a gas cylinder exploded in a restaurant early on Monday, local media reported.

Abu Dhabi-owned The National newspaper, quoting a Dubai Civil Defence spokesperson, said the blast in Dubai had caused a blaze that damaged the ground floor of the building. The fire was controlled within 33 minutes, it added.

Previously an El Al flight carrying the U.S. and Israeli delegations to the United Arab Emirates entered Saudi Arabian airspace on Monday, the first known such action by an Israeli commercial airline.

Flight data website Flightradar24 showed the El Al flight ELY971 crossing the Jordanian-Saudi Arabian border about 25 minutes after take off, crossing into the Al Jawf Province in northern Saudi Arabia.

Saudi Arabia - the birthplace of Islam and home to its holiest shrines - does not recognise Israel.

In related developments Israel and the United Arab Emirates agreed on Tuesday to set up a joint committee on financial services cooperation with the aim of promoting investment between the two countries, an Israeli statement said.

Israeli and UAE officials meeting in Abu Dhabi signed the understanding, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said in the statement.

One focus, Netanyahu said, would be on “cooperation in the field of financial services and removing financial barriers for making investments between the countries, as well as promoting joint investments in the capital markets.”

Source: Reuters

Written by The Levant

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