The UAE Embassy in Israel and the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry hosted government and business leaders in Tel Aviv on Wednesday for the first bi-national business conference dedicated to innovation and technology.
Held in partnership with the not-for-profit organisation Start-Up National Central, the UAE-Israel Business Forum was initiated by UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja.
The forum constitutes the next step in his ongoing partnership with Start-Up Nation Central, led by CEO Avi Hasson.
The conference highlighted the countries’ commitment to innovation diplomacy by way of promoting business-to-business ties in an effort to create a joint regional hub of entrepreneurship.
The conference explored the role of multinational corporations as drivers of technological innovation; ways to create an innovative ecosystem that can benefit the region; opportunities for business growth; and the role of collaboration in achieving mutually beneficial commercial success.
Around 200 experts attended the event. This marks the first state-sponsored business delegation from the UAE.
Since the signing of the Abraham Accords last year, this is the first time that leaders of both countries met in Israel under one roof in a public setting organised by the two nations’ governments.
Following the event, Dr Ahmed Belhoul Al Falasi, the UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, and Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, the Minister of State for Foreign Trade, visited Start-Up Nation Central headquarters for a meeting with entrepreneurs from leading Israeli tech companies and start-ups.
On Thursday, the Emirati conference attendees are set to hold a series of roundtable and one-on-one meetings with their Israeli counterparts.
Al Khaja said: “As people of the region, in order to advance our own societies and our economies, it is imperative for all actors in this room, and our counterparts to find ways to ‘lean-in’ to this relationship and work together to open doors and correctly navigate and fuse together the respective strengths of our societies and economies.
“We are proud and excited to host Israeli start-ups, corporations and joint ventures aiming to capitalise on the language, cultural and global connections of the dynamic Emirati marketplace, and to allow you to tap into the diverse talent pool and global business acumen of the UAE.”
Start-Up Nation Central CEO Avi Hasson said: “As an organisation that puts a great deal of emphasis on the role of innovation diplomacy, we couldn’t be more pleased by the spirit of innovation and collaboration at the event.
"We look forward to carrying on the strong relationship with our partner Ambassador H.E. Al Khaja and other government and business partners in the UAE, and to developing the innovation ecosystems of both countries to achieve joint economic growth.”
Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, noted it was remarkable that the two countries had already established strong relationships in the form of business and commercial agreements just a year after the Abraham Accords.
"This is more than simply a foundation to build on. It is a solid partnership of real significance, not just for our nations, but for the region and the world as a whole," he said.
Al Falasi, the UAE Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, said there were several ways in which the two regions could work together.
"Everywhere I look I see alignments, both in our strengths and our challenges, when it comes to small and medium businesses, start-ups, and tourism," he said.
Israel’s Minister of Economy and Industry Orna Barbivai said: “The Ministry of Economics and Industry will continue to promote the shared interests of Israel and the UAE. The delegation’s arrival enables us to expose the visiting Emirati industry and business leaders to Israel’s wealth of innovation, technology, entrepreneurship, and research.
"This conference signifies the establishment of economic ties between the two nations and Israel will continue to strengthen the business connections and partnerships with the Emiratis, recognising their potential for aiding economic growth."
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