DUBAI — An Emirati government official told ALL ISRAEL NEWS today that as soon as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) normalized relations with Israel, he sensed the vast economic possibilities of bilateral trade and investment ad wanted to capitalize on the peace agreement.
Tariq bin Hendi, director general of the Abu Dhabi Investment Office, said one of his company’s first questions was, “Are we going to have an office in Israel?” He recognized that being on the ground would give them better access to the Israeli market and to the “movers and shakers,” entrepreneurs and venture capitalists.
“When we look at the opportunities that are presented by this new relationship and what the Abraham Accords afford us between Israel and the UAE, it was only natural that we had representation in Israel,” Hendi said in a conversation with ALL ISRAEL NEWS at the first ever UAE-Israel Digital Future Digital Economy Summit in Dubai.
Dr. Hendi said the UAE already has “a lot of things in place” in Tel Aviv and what he has learned during the process was, “We have more that unites us than divides us.”
The summit — the first involving Israeli technology companies in the UAE since the Abraham Accords were signed on Sept. 15 — is taking place during the annual Gitex Technology Week, Dec 6-10. More than 400 Israelis are attending.
Most of the Israeli exhibitors expressed amazement that they are at this conference in the UAE as Israelis — not hiding their identity, but actually showcased. Many of the Israelis wore kippas (head coverings), signifying they are religious Jews and, despite the recent threats from Iran against Israelis traveling abroad, Israelis openly spoke Hebrew.
In Dubai, Tariq bin Hendi, director-general of Abu Dhabi Investment Office, tells @all_israel_news and @all_arab_news , "We have more that unites us than divides us" when it comes to business opportunities between Israel and the Gulf. pic.twitter.com/frrkzpbRnt— All Israel News (@all_israel_news) December 7, 2020
Israel and the United Arab Emirates have already come a long way in a short time in terms of business opportunities between the Jewish state and the Gulf. Experts at the summit projected that bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel is expected to reach $5 billion.
“We estimate at least $5 billion trade in the beginning between the UAE and Israel and it will increase as there are many opportunities,” Sultan Ahmed Bin Sulayem, CEO of DP World and chairman of Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation, said at the summit as reported by the Khaleej Times. “From the technology side, we see huge opportunities.”
“People can look at the UAE as an important place to reach bigger markets. Within three hours of flight from Dubai, you can reach 2 billion people. And you find several flights from Dubai and other UAE provinces (called emirates) operating daily .... You can fly and ship anything at any time of the day from the UAE to anywhere in the world,” Bin Sulayen said.
Israeli and UAE officials and businesspeople are gathered for the inaugural UAE-Israel Future Digital Economy Summit in Dubai - and @all_israel_news is here to cover it all as it happens pic.twitter.com/tCgiLf5Er6— All Israel News (@all_israel_news) December 7, 2020
Reem Al Hashimy, UAE Minister of State for International Cooperation and Director General of Expo 2020 Dubai, welcomed participants to the summit.
“We want to part from the past and begin a relationship on the premise of dialogue and debate,” she said opening the summit on Monday.
Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State, said his country can be one of Israel’s biggest trading partners.
Israeli speakers included Tomer Simon of Microsoft, David Leffler, CEO of the Israeli Ministry of Economy and Industry, and Ron Tomer, president of the Manufacturers Association of Israel, among many other Israeli and UAE speakers.
Joseph Magen is Co-Founder and Managing Editor of ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. He has more than 20 years of experience in high-tech, software development, and the Israeli venture capital industry. Joseph lives in the Judean Hills outside of Jerusalem with his wife and five young children.