Concluding the first UAE-Israel Business Forum in Tel Aviv, the United Arab Emirates Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, revealed that the next forum was already scheduled to take place in January 2022 in Abu Dhabi.
Ambassador Al Khaja, together with Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Startup Nation Central, organized the prestigious forum as part of an overall effort to boost and secure a steady flow of bilateral trade.
The first-of-its-kind conference explored ways to create an innovative ecosystem that benefits the region through collaboration and mutually beneficial commercial success while establishing a personal relationship built on trust between both parties.
Citing a recent visa waiver agreement and a newly opened travel corridor, Ambassador Al Khaja stressed the importance of bringing Emirati visitors to Israel to experience its people and culture for themselves.
“It is an opportunity for our people to feel the warmth and hospitality of Israelis…And a lot of people are telling me [they] already feel at home, and this is exactly the objective”, says Al Khaja.
Around 200 experts were invited to the event, over 80 of them arriving in Israel from the United Arab Emirates for the first time. Al Khaja, who has been serving as the UAE's first ambassador to Israel since presenting his credentials on March 1, 2021, says he is confident the business discussions held during the recent forum will materialize into actionable items.
Despite Covid restrictions, bilateral trade developed organically since the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, recently exceeding $1 billion, according to Israel’s Export Institute. Officials are expect bilateral trade to triple in the coming two years, growing to $3 billion by 2023.
Meanwhile, Israeli and Emirati dignitaries have revealed that the countries are in talks to establish a free trade agreement that should be finalized and implemented in the coming months. In the meantime, new partnerships are being formed weekly as both sides look to capitalize on new regional opportunities.
״We see a lot of ventures, a lot of MOU’s being signed. The bilateral trade as announced today exceeds $1 billion, and the skies are not the limits; we’re already talking about a mission to space and beyond that. We are looking to do more collaboration not only in the economic front but also on the cultural front [and in] sports, and again the essence of this relationship is the people-to-people relationship”, says Al Khaja.
Mohamed Al Khaja is the UAE'S first ambassador appointed to Israel following the normalization of ties between the countries, and his work promoting Emirati-Israeli relations has been widely recognized. His appointment was met with great excitement from the Israeli public as he represented a new era between both countries and the entire region.
“Since I touched down here, I was really touched by how warm and welcoming and genuine the people have been here. And I feel that we have 50 years of no relations to catch up with, and it is natural, the chemistry among the people here is just natura," said Al Khaja.
"And what we can do together in creating a new narrative of what peace can achieve and how our region could prosper from such partnerships.”
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