The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was the target of cyber attacks after establishing formal ties with Israel, the Gulf Arab state’s cyber security head said on Sunday. The UAE in August broke with decades of Arab policy when it agreed to forge ties with Israel in a move that angered Palestinians and some Muslim states and communities. Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit.

“Our relationship, for example, with the normalisation with Israel really opened a whole huge attacks from some other activists against the UAE,” Head of Cyber Security Mohamed Hamad al-Kuwaiti said during an onstage interview at a conference in Dubai.

Kuwaiti said the financial sector was targeted but did not elaborate. He did not say if any of the attacks were successful or provide details on who the perpetrators were. He also told the conference that the number of cyber attacks in the UAE increased sharply after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Kuwaiti said traditionally many attacks in the region originate from Iran, without specifying who is behind them.

Iran has also said that it has been a victim of hacking.

UAE Peace deal with Israel

The UAE and Israel signed a US-brokered peace deal on Aug 13, which was hailed as a “HUGE breakthrough” by US President Donald Trump, who went on to call it a “Historic Peace Agreement between our two GREAT friends.”

At the time, Trump, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Zayed Al-Nahyan had said in a joint statement that they had “agreed to the full normalisation of relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates.”

The agreement was in fact the culmination of more than a decade of quiet links rooted in frenzied opposition to Iran that predated Trump and even Barack Obama, as well as Trump’s avowed goal to undo his predecessor’s Middle East legacy.

It has been followed by other developments in the region which signal Saudi Arabia could potentially be next to recognise Israel.