Eilat port is one of the principle projects, which will receive investment from the new $10 billion UAE strategic investment fund, and which is meant to help the Israeli economy recover from the Covid-19 economic crisis. Eilat Port is one of the five mega-projects mentioned by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu last weekend as part of the government stimulus plan to lift the economy out of the Covid crisis.
The plans for Eilat port are especially ambitious with a deep water port in the Gulf of Eilat/Aqaba, which will create a new shipping and railway trade route between the Persian Gulf and Europe. Sources tell "Globes" that most of the project will be financed by the Abu Dhabi Sovereign Fund.
Netanyahu had hoped to unveil the plan during his visit to Abu Dhabi last week after his meeting with Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, the de facto ruler of Abu Dhabi. The Jordanians torpedoed the visit but nevertheless, the plans will go ahead and are economically very dramatic.
In general, "Globes" understands that most of the $10 billion fund will be invested in infrastructures. From the talks between bin Zayed and Netanyahu and between Israel's National Economic Council Head Prof. Avi Simhon and senior figures in the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA), several main projects for investment were mentioned.
The two most prominent involve trade route infrastructures: the deep water port in Eilat and a railway via Saudi Arabia and Jordan to Haifa Port.
Simhon told "Globes" that the railway is nearly completed. The only links missing are 300 kilometers - mainly in Jordan and Saudi Arabia. The railway will be able to swiftly and cheaply transport agricultural goods and fresh produce from Europe via Israel, Jordan and Saudi Arabia to the Gulf. The plan would also involve greatly enlarging Haifa Port.
The deep water port in Eilat and Aqaba will be shared by both Jordan and Israel and will be located on the border with a dep canal dug along the border northwards. From there a railway will be built to Ashdod Port, thus creating another cheap and fast route between the Gulf and Europe.
What both plans have in common is the need for regional cooperation not only between Israel and the UAE but also Saudi Arabia and Jordan.
Simhon told "Globes" that these two project have immense geopolitical and economic significance and vast potential for Israel's economy.
US involvement will also be important. The Trump administration had intended investing $30 billion in these sort of projects. But the fund through which the money would have been invested has been put on hold by the Biden administration. But estimates are that after studying the plans, the Americans will come back down off the fence.
Estimates are that these projects will take 10-15 years to approve, plan and build.
In addition to these infrastructure projects, the Abu Dhabi fund will also invest in Israel high-tech in cybersecurity, agri-tech, water desalination and recycling, and improved use of irrigation as well as fintech, space, and energy.
Israel will be responsible for coordinating the investments through the Israel Innovation Authority, the Israel Export Institute and the Israel National Cyber Directorate. There will also be collaboration between Israel and UAE universities on medicine, medical robotics and remote medicine. Emphasis will be on developing and testing medical technology applications and training doctors and medical teams. Sheba Medical Center at Tel Hashomer has already signed an agreement with a large UAE medical organization and both Hadassah and Ichilov Hospitals are involved.
In the field of energy, the UAE is interested in investing in making solar energy systems more efficient and in solar energy farms with both countries wanting to expand use of non-polluting renewable energy.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on March 14, 2021
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