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Dreams of achieving economic diplomacy

Farhana Chowdhury
Filed on January 28, 2021
Dr Raphael Nagel, Chairman of the Board at the Abrahamic Business Circle,

Dr Raphael Nagel, Chairman of the Board at the Abrahamic Business Circle, is on a mission to create business opportunities and dialogue between the UAE, Israel and the Middle East, using economic diplomacy as a tool towards lasting peace


Please tell us about the Abrahamic Business Circle.

The name of Abrahamic Business Circle was inspired by the existence of the Abrahamic Family House in Abu Dhabi. The olive branch in the logo is in a circle with three segments that represent the three major Abrahamic religions - Islam, Judaism and Christianity. Each one maintains their own identity while showing that they stand in unity. In each of these religions, the olive tree has long been a symbol of peace.

At Abrahamic Business Circle, we believe that if we create economic diplomacy, we businessmen can have a positive influence on a long-term peace agreement between the countries in the region.

We founded the Abrahamic Business Circle to create a global business group, as we see collaboration of business as a key strategy in sustainable peace. Our main idea is that we want to build great business from the Middle East, to the Middle East, but on a global scale.

We currently have members in from countries all over the world, including South America, Russia, China, Sudan and even Pakistan. The idea is that due to Covid-19, we are all limited in terms of travel, and as such, it is very important that you have a big business network where you can exchange contacts even when limited physically, so the Abrahamic Business Circle is a global network to create global business.

We have heard much discussion about projected business to be gained by the accords. Which industries would you say will benefit the most and how?

Firstly, tourism will benefit, and it is already making progress - certainly in terms of incoming tourism to the UAE from Israel. It will also grow in the other direction once the lockdown in Israel is lifted. The next level we see very clearly is agriculture and healthcare.

On the other hand, we also see big projects to run as the Abrahamic Business Circle. So far, have been able to connect business opportunities in food security, greenhouse technology, healthcare, etc. The biggest project we hope to achieve this year is an innovation park where 10,000 people can live and work together to develop new digital technologies.

Where do you see the biggest synergies between Israel and Gulf states involved in the accords?

Israel's biggest export is technology and when you have a lot of technology, there are a lot of things that you can collaborate on with the Gulf states, and especially the UAE. Recently, we have had the first flight to Mars from the UAE, which shows that the country has its sights on space.

One of the big things we can see a lot of corporations for sure is in food security, which we want to help the country secure it, as well as healthcare. For example, in Israel, for breast cancer, two injections can freeze the cells, without the need for surgery. This is among one of the many outstanding technologies that we believe can help people in the region and create a very bright future for all of us.

What do you envisage as the biggest challenges for businesses moving forward following the Abraham Accords?

One of the biggest challenges, at the moment, is that we cannot travel. There have been incoming flights from Israel but outbound travel may experience a bit of a time delay.
On the other hand, communication may be a challenge and it will take time for the various cultures to get to know each other.

I have to admit, I was more worried about it at the beginning but I am very impressed at how both the UAE and Israel, and also the rest of the world, have handled this new situation and understand that this is a new future. It worked much better than I ever expected. I was much more worried there would be more cultural differences but I can see we have much more common interests than people may have realised.

I believe in economic diplomacy; that if we are able to do business from here together, we will be able to build bridges for humanity.

How can the Abrahamic Business Circle alleviate some of these challenges for businesses?

The role of the Abrahamic Business Circle is to create a network of contacts, such that our members from all over the world can interconnect with one another.

For example, in one of our recent business deals, we have been able to connect an Israeli company to deal with a UAE-based company that, ironically, is owned by a Palestinian. Now, an Israeli businessman is working together with a Palestinian businessman through the bridge of the UAE. This is unbelievably great and is the future that I see our vision and my personal dream.

The UAE has done outstanding work with this unbelievable normalisation agreement that if you would have asked anyone a few months ago, nobody would have believed it.

As a businessman, I would love it if we could get access to the great market of Pakistan for the Israelis, because it is a market of 212 million people. We can continue to hope that can build more bridges between countries.

Our main aim of Abrahamic Business Circle is to promote business, because I really believe that together with business comes a relationship, and through that comes friendship. And this friendship between two parties will show the rest of the world that even if we have cultural, religious or other differences, we can work together. And I think the best example of this is the UAE.

You have an impressive list of high-level advisory board members. How can this aid those looking to develop business between the
beneficiaries of the peace accords?

Our aim of the advisory board members is not to only have them featured on a website, but to also have them as active partners.

We have structured everything in five different sectors, in the areas we believe should be leading the way, with high-level individual personalities as part of the Abrahamic Business Circle to help us to interconnect, bring their business experience and help develop our vision together.

Tell us more about Abrahamic Business Circle's initiatives.

At the Abrahamic Business Circle, we plan to host workshops during the year to share our network and expertise.

We are looking to cover all the different industries and bring the people from the right sectors together with the right advisory board members, who would serve as mentors. I am a strong believer in education. If we have education, we can speak a common language and have a common bridge.

We also host what we call "Abrahamic coffee", where we meet once a month to introduce members to one another in order to create friendship and fellowship. We believe that the Middle East has a big voice with a lot of future here, alongside economic challenges, and it needs a dedicated platform.

Our biggest dream this year is to host a big convention in the UAE in October, similar to the World Economic Forum, but with an exclusive focus on the Middle East. Here, top level speakers and different think tanks from all over the world can share their perspectives and engage in dialogue.

We want to help to promote this economic diplomacy and bring in a new more global world view without prejudice and to think together how we can provide a better future for our children and humanity, of course

UPCOMING WORKSHOPS BY THE ABRAHAMIC BUSINESS CIRCLE

  • January 28: Finance, real estate and venture capital, featuring the role of Islamic finance in global banking, asset allocation classes, etc.
  • March 25: Healthcare, covering neuroscience, genetic engineering, medical devices, and hospital management.
  • May 27: Education, featuring seminars on intercultural behaviour, employability of graduates and content of curriculums.
  • September 30: Agriculture, featuring genetically modified organisms, water technology, and recent trends in the global industry.
  • November 25: Technology, which will feature recent technologies in telecommunications, internet and cybersecurity, fintech, artificial intelligence and applications.

 





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