One year of Abraham Accords: This is what meaningful peace looks like

File photo
File photo

Dubai - Israeli Consul-General in Dubai tasked with advancing commercial relations between the two countries.


Michal Michelle Divon

Published: Thu 12 Aug 2021, 6:32 PM

Last updated: Thu 12 Aug 2021, 9:11 PM

“If you would have asked me one year ago what a real, strong, meaningful peace agreement with an Arab country from the Gulf would look like, I could not even imagine it,” says Ilan Sztulman, Israel’s Consul-General in Dubai.

A year into the Abraham Accords and Israel-UAE trade surpassed $675 million, according to Israeli FM Yair Lapid in an interview with Emirates News Agency WAM, making the UAE Israel’s 8th largest trading partner, and this is only the beginning.

“We have reached a point where Israelis live here in the Emirates, work in the Emirates, and invest in the Emirates,” says Sztulman.

The Israeli diplomat who is primarily tasked with advancing commercial relations between the two countries says a key milestone is the one coming up: representing Israel at Expo 2020 Dubai.

As the Consul General of Dubai, Sztulman also welcomed the Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs and hosted the official opening ceremony at the Consulate in Dubai.

On a personal note, Sztulman's wife is expecting any day now, and the birth of their child will mark the first Israeli baby born in Dubai following the Accords.

Anyone wanting to know how to do business in the UAE will be advised of the importance of building relationships and trust. In my first interview following the Accords, businessman Thani Al Shirawi Deputy Managing Director of Oasis Investment, made sure to stress this point, saying, ”once there is friendship and trust, business will come naturally”.

The UAE-Israel Business Council, which Al Shirawi co-founded with Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem, is an example of grassroots initiatives established one year ago.

“Every day, we work together to develop a new model for what peace should look like in the Middle East, where we are aligned by a common vision of prosperity for all,” says Hassan-Nahoum.

Dubai-based businessman Bruce Gurfein, CEO of Connect LLC, one of the Al Naboodah group’s companies focused on tech investments and development, says the initial hype has subsided, which means the business transactions reflect the needs and interests of both sides.

“Relations are now based on real needs and supply instead of the hype and excitement of the beginning. Emiratis are less into seed investment, less into an early-stage investment, more into later-staged developed companies, growth companies etc,” says Gurfein.

Technologies related to agriculture, food and water security, cybersecurity, sustainability, and innovative-driven solutions seem to be dominating much of the UAE-Israel investment interest. As far as the supply chain goes, logistics and transportation of goods from Israel to the far east and vice versa has been reshuffled, significantly benefitting businesses on both sides.

Furthermore, recent flight agreements have saved thousands of dollars for Emirati and Israeli airlines. They can now fly over new airspace in newly established flight routes, saving both time and money.

“We can easily say that this is a market that’s going to grow to a $1-3 billion market over the next 2-3 years, and the growth is going to be based on real, sustainable continuous business,” says Gurfein.

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