This morning, the official Israel-United Arab Emirates (UAE) conference, "Beyond Business", opened in Dubai. The conference is sponsored by Bank Hapoalim and the Israel Export Institute. Some 400 Israeli businesspeople and representatives of Israeli companies are participating, together with UAE companies and government officials. The conference is taking place at the same time as, and in the margins of, GITEX Technology Week in Dubai, the third largest such event in the global technology calendar, and the only one to be held live in 2020. This year, some 200 Israeli companies are participating in it. In the course of the event, two UAE cabinet ministers will meet the heads of the Israeli delegation, and meetings and panels will be held with the participation of senior figures from both countries.
Bank Hapoalim chairman Reuven Krupik told "Globes" that the banks needed to create a financial platform for rapid, safe and regular business relations. He said that the business and commercial tie between Israel and the UAE was very important in extricating Israel from the economic crisis brought about by the coronavirus pandemic. He expressed the hope that the UAE and the new markets opened up via that country would be a spur for the recovery of the Israeli economy as a whole. "Exiting the crisis depends on each element doing its job, including the government and all its various agencies," Krupik said.
Bank Hapoalim CEO Dov Kotler said that bank was already financing initial export deals, chiefly in agriculture. He warned, however, that Israelis had to learn the local pace of doing business, and that they should not try to rush deals without preparation. "You have to know how to build confidence slowly, and without confidence, business will not succeed." He said that the Emiratis saw relations as two-way, meaning that they wanted to interest Israelis in investment in the Emirates, and not just the other way round.
Export Institute chairman Adiv Baruch told "Globes" that the Abraham Accords had brought about a very swift economic breakthrough, and that next year the value of trade between Israel and the UAE would reach at least $1 billion. He added that it was not only a matter of trade with the UAE, but via the UAE with markets that up to now had been closed to Israel.
"Globes" has learned that one of the agreements close to being signed is in agriculture. A large UAE company owned by one of the country's wealthiest families holds huge areas of agricultural land, mainly in Africa, and seeks to grow various kinds of food crops using advanced agricultural methods and technologies. The company is examining several Israel agritech companies that provide solutions to its various needs in growing, irrigation, agricultural know-how, control of the seeds market, and so on. The aim is that, within a few years, these extensive lands will become a source of agricultural produce for the UAE, which currently spends huge sums on food imports. Close to 90% of the food consumed in the UAE is imported.
At the gala opening of the conference yesterday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on more countries in the Middle East to join the peace agreements with the UAE and Bahrain. In a broadcast message to those attending the opening evening, Netanyahu said that those agreements were only the start, and that they were intended to bring progress to the whole of the Middle East. UAE Minister for Entrepreneurship and SMEs Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi said at the conference that the Abraham Accords were not designed for Israel and the UAE alone, but for the entire region, not just for the economy and business but for the region's whole future. "Our vision is hope, like the name of our space program, hope for the region and the whole world. This is what we are trying to realize. The future belongs to whoever can plan and shape it. It does not wait for anyone who expects other to act," the minister said.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on December 7, 2020
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