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UAE-Israel peace deal opens doors to big business opportunities

Reuters file photo
Reuters file photo

Dubai - The UAE and Israel have significant potential for economic cooperation.

By Nandini Sircar and Suneeti Ahuja-Kohli

Published: Wed 13 Jan 2021, 9:52 PM

The peace deal is stimulating the economic landscape of the UAE and Israel — enabling businesses in both countries to identify opportunities and recognise challenges, experts said on Wednesday while speaking at the UAE-Israel Business Summit 2021, organised by Khaleej Times and The Jerusalem Post.

There has been a clamour for bold, warm peace, which has gained momentum following the signing of the historic Abraham Accords among the UAE, Bahrain and Israel on September 15 in Washington D.C.

The UAE and Israel have significant potential for economic cooperation, said Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, said during the summit on Wednesday.

The government expects Israeli exports to the country to touch up to $500 million (Dh1,836.48 million) a year. Similarly, the UAE investments in Israel to near $350 million (Dh1,285.54 million) per year. “This is a testament to the many opportunities that lie ahead in trade and investment across many sectors,” the minister said.

The sentiment is echoed on the Israeli side, too, where the finance ministry estimates bilateral trade to climb to $6.5 billion (Dh23.87b) a year and catapult the UAE into one of the leading trading partners around the globe.

“Looking at the two dynamic and innovative countries, the estimate of bilateral trade of $6.5 billion is very realistic, and can be reached in a couple of years,” said Samir Chaturvedi, chief executive officer of the Khalifa Industrial Zone (Kizad) in Abu Dhabi.

Hamad Buamim, president and CEO of Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, said the historic peace accord came at a time when “everybody is looking for new markets and demands to support their respective economies amid recovery from the pandemic”.

“I hope that the markets in both the countries will give us more economic opportunities. Israel’s agriculture sector will evoke tremendous interest in Dubai and across the UAE. Dubai is keen to host Israeli tourists,” Buamim said. The UAE, US and Israel have also jointly established a $3 billion (b) (Dh11.02b) Abraham Fund to help bolster private sector-led investments in the region.

Buamim said: “Healthcare, technology sector and agriculture sectors hold the key. These sectors will open new avenues of cooperation between businesses and governments from both the countries to deal with pressing issues such as digital transformation, food security, pharmaceutical and medical equipment.”

Since the signing of the Abraham Accords in Washington D.C. on September 15, 2020, the two countries have inked various deals to cement their alliance, and many more are expected to be inked as the world opens up and normalises after the pandemic. The potential is huge. Right from the oil and gas sector to partnerships in aviation, logistics, space, renewable energy, agriculture, health, artificial intelligence (AI), technology, and tourism opportunities are waiting to be explored in many sectors.

“In oil and gas sector, for instance, the UAE is looking to invest in downstream activities particularly in refining and petrochemical projects. This will be one of the fastest growing segments in coming years. Israel could be a natural partner in such projects,” said Zeyoudi.

There have also been strategic partnerships among the Dubai Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Tel Aviv Chamber of Commerce and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, which promise to deliver target-orientated outcomes.

Buamim said: “Initially, we’ll conduct a joint study, where we can represent Dubai and its businesses and vice-versa in Israel. The exercise will map the areas of collaboration and give a fillip to businesses,” Buamim added.

A raft of activities, events and webinars will be organised this year to help create more awareness about the UAE and Israeli businesses.

He added: “We agreed upon reciprocal visits. Our delegates will be briefed about the future plan of action. We’re also looking to strengthen the bilateral ties by opening representative offices in Tel Aviv. Our aim is to facilitate, educate and guide the businesses to connect and build relationships between the two great nations.”


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