By the numbers:
5 days traveling
900 km driven
5 cities visited
4 facilities & an exhibition
A few times a year I travel to Egypt to visit the OK certified facilities spread across the country. There is even a direct flight from Tel Aviv to Cairo, which has been operated by Air Sinai since the Israeli-Egyptian peace agreement (signed in 1979). It’s a short flight – only about an hour! My most recent trip took place in February 2020.
On this trip, I was picked up at the airport and driven to Suez, a city located on the north coast of the Gulf of Suez, on the western shore of the Sinai Peninsula. The facility produces industrial chemicals and kosher certification is essential for their business. The Egyptian staff members were very kind and made sure I felt safe during the whole trip.
After the visit, I traveled north to Damietta, a city near the Mediterranean Sea, where I stayed in a hotel overnight to visit a canning facility in the morning.
Unfortunately, in this area, there is no kosher food or Jewish communities, so I had to rely on food that I brought from Israel.
After visiting the canning facility, I made the three-hour drive back to Cairo to visit the well known Hero jam facility. Hero exports its products across Europe and the US and can be found in many kosher supermarkets.
After I visited Hero, I had a few hours before my flight to the United Arab Emirates so I took the opportunity to visit one of the few synagogues left in Cairo. The synagogue, called Sha’ar Hashamayim, is preserved by the Egyptian government. The visit was emotional as I thought about the history of the Jewish people and communities in Egypt, most of which were abandoned in the late 1960s. The few Jews left in Egypt attend the synagogue on Yomim Tovim.
When I landed in Dubai, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, I was off to attend Gulfood – one of the biggest food exhibitions in the world. Fortunately, I met an Israeli ex-pat in my hotel who introduced me to Rabbi Levi Duchman and his Chabad Jewish Center in Dubai, and I was able to enjoy daily minyanim and kosher food. (Before the recent historic peace agreement between Israel and the UAE, the Chabad center did not publicize their activities.)
Gulfood hosts thousands of companies, coming from hundreds of countries, and it takes days to go around and meet them all. I was able to meet many representatives and introduce them to the kosher world. It’s interesting to see how companies understand the importance of kosher certification and many of them approached me and stopped everything they were doing to discuss how their company could become kosher certified.
Dubai is quite an interesting place, a mixture of East and West, new and old. You can feel and see the investment that the Emirates have made here to make
Dubai a capital of the Middle East and gateway to the world.
After an intense week on the road, I flew back to Israel (via Jordan, as direct flights were not yet available in February), and returned to my family who was definitely happy to have me home.
Building on our longstanding presence in the Persian Gulf, OK Kosher has recently launched a new division, OK Kosher Middle East, focusing on the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Rabbi Ouriel Allouche has been tasked with directing this new initiative.
The OK’s presence in the United Arab Emirates began as early as 2011 in Dubai. We are proud to add the United Arab Emirates to our global network of kosher outposts, to assist companies in manufacturing kosher products that meet the standards of the most discerning kosher consumers worldwide. We look forward to leading this new frontier in kosher production.