Daily Kickoff: The Etihad exec who loves Hebrew + Interviewing immigrants painted by George W. Bush – Jewish Insider

Posted By on May 8, 2021

sky bridgesThe Etihad exec with a lifelong love of Hebrew

A month ago, Amina Taher stepped onto an airplane for the first time in 14 months. As the vice president of brand, marketing and partnerships at Etihad Airways, Taher was used to flying four to five times a month pre-COVID. Not being able to be in my home, in the skies, was difficult, she told Jewish Insiders Amy Spiro in a recent interview. Getting back on a plane, I was like a little kid whos traveled for the first time. It was very emotional, and it was very magical.

Short visit: That flight on April 6 marked a series of other firsts: The first commercial flight for the UAE-based Etihad between Abu Dhabi and Tel Aviv, and the first time Taher had ever visited Israel. Inaugurating a new flight, and for it to be [to] Tel Aviv, I couldnt ask for a better reopening, she told JI. And while Taher only spent 26 hours on the ground in Israel last month, she was instantly hooked. The only one takeaway that I brought back was the people, and how hospitable and warm and welcoming the Israelis were. It was unbelievable, and that was my key takeaway from my very short round trip.

Say shalom: Taher also left a strong impression by giving ashort speech at the flight launch in Hebrew, which went viral in certain corners of the internet. Taher, who speaks six languages, told JI that she has cultivated a lifelong interest in the Hebrew language, dating back to when she was a child. The relationship I have with Hebrew was very much established at a very young age, since I was 12, she said. When I was in third grade, I was in an international school in Dubai. And there was a girl in my class called Tamar, and I really liked her name. When she asked her mother about the name and researched it online, she discovered that it had Hebrew origins.

Ivrit efforts: Taher never imagined that her few Hebrew sentences would gain so much traction online. I didnt know that it would attract that much attention on social [media], she said, noting that the positive reactions far outweighed any negative chatter. The fact that people appreciated it I was very grateful, it was overwhelming in a good way. Today, she said, she would characterize her Hebrew as being kindergarten material, but said each day she dedicates 30 minutes to reading the Sefaria app to improve her skills, as well as printing out her iPhone keyboard in Hebrew to study. And her efforts in Hebrew, she said, were appreciated in Israel, even among those who suggested she sounded like she spoke with a French accent. People encouraged it, she said, they like it and they appreciate it, which makes me happy and want to make an effort.

Coexistence DNA: Taher said while there is occasional negative feedback from non-Emiratis, particularly on social media, about ties with Israel, she feels that overall there is excitement on the ground. People are very supportive; everyone that Im exposed to, and Im exposed to a lot of people, are happy, she said. There are a lot of Emiratis who are excited and want to go to Israel. In the UAE, she added, part of our DNA is youve got coexistence, youve got tolerance, youve got all these skills everything that we say and you hear is embedded in the leadership, but also in the character of the country and the people.

Read the full interview here.


Daily Kickoff: The Etihad exec who loves Hebrew + Interviewing immigrants painted by George W. Bush - Jewish Insider

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