Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, speaks with Mike Pompeo, US Secretary of State, as they arrive at the State Department on Wednesday. Sheikh Abdullah was in Washington DC to sign the Abraham Accord with Israel. - AP
Dubai - Annual trade expected to hit $4b by 2022 as top companies rush for partnerships.
As the UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accord in Washington DC to set up diplomatic ties and normalise relations, private and public sector companies are gearing to explore trade and investment opportunities in both countries.
Industry sources and private sector officials said at least half-a-dozen deals are in the pipeline that will foster bilateral annual trade up to $4 billion by 2022.
In addition, both the countries will be exploring investment opportunities in key sectors, including financial, aviation, real estate, travel and tourism, among others.
The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (ADIO) plans to open a network of international offices to support global companies looking to establish and expand their operations in the UAE capital. Its first international office will be located in Tel Aviv and will focus on facilitating connections between innovation-focused companies and organisations in Abu Dhabi and Israel.
"The opening of an international network of investment offices will create new opportunities to connect with innovators from around the world and work together to solve challenges of global importance," said Mohammed Ali Al Shorafa, chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.
Leading banks in the UAE and Israel have already signed initial memoranda of understanding in the past three days to explore areas of economic and commercial cooperation.
First Abu Dhabi Bank, Emirates NBD and Abu Dhabi Islamic Bank (ADIB) signed agreements with Israel's biggest lender Hapoalim and oldest Bank Leumi Le-Israel in line with the Abraham Accord to promote sustainable development in the region.
"The deal is intended to open new business and trade opportunities for customers, and support individuals travelling to Israel or businesses looking to benefit from access to new market," ADIB said on Wednesday.
DP World and Dubai Customs signed a deal with a leading Israeli group to explore opportunities to develop bilateral trade links. DP World will join Israel's DoverTower to bid for one of Israel's two main ports and to examine opening a direct shipping line between the two Middle East states.
"Our work to build trade routes between the UAE, Israel and beyond will help our customers to do business in the region more easily and efficiently," he said.
DoverTower is owned by Israeli businessman Shlomi Fogel, a shareholder in Israel Shipyards and a partner in Eilat port.
Israel Shipyards and Dubai's Drydocks World will also examine partnering in producing and marketing products in Dubai.
"DP World and Israel Shipyards will collaborate to establish a joint venture that will participate in the tender for privatisation of the Port of Haifa," Shlomi Fogel said in a statement on Wednesday.
Israeli investors have also expressed interest in the UAE's infrastructure development and real estate projects in Dubai.
"We have received many enquiries from Israel to invest in Dubai's property sector. We are confident of converting these enquiries into sales order and will share details in due course of time," according to a leading Dubai-based developer.