Tourism Minister Haim Katz arrived Tuesday in Saudi Arabia for a United Nations conference, becoming the first Israeli minister to lead a delegation to the kingdom, according to his office.

“They received me very nicely, we landed in the afternoon, there were lots of people in the welcome committee, everybody looked the same, it was wonderful”, Katz told.

Katz is on a two-day visit to Saudi Arabia as part of a United Nations World Tourism Organization (UNWTO) event that coincides with World Tourism Day on September 27th.

“Tourism is a bridge between nations”, Katz said in a statement. “Cooperation in the field of tourism has the potential to bring hearts together, and economic progress. I will work to advance cooperation, tourism and the foreign relations of Israel”, he said.

Katz told Ynet that the Israeli delegation’s arrival in Saudi Arabia was a “historic and exciting event. After 48 years, Israel was chosen to lead a strategic delegation to the event. We were warmly received in the Riyadh by officials. I estimate that we will meet many delegations at the conference, those with whom we have relations, and, I estimate, also with those with who we don’t really”.

Katz’s visit comes as Israel and Saudi Arabia seem to be edging closer to a normalization deal. US President Joe Biden’s administration is actively engaging Riyadh and Jerusalem to try to broker a normalization deal between the two countries. As part of the framework, Saudi Arabia is also asking the US for a major mutual defense pact and significant arms deals, as well as Israeli concessions to the Palestinians.