Dubai’s DMCC brings ‘Made for Trade Live’ to Tel Aviv event

Dubai and Tel Aviv are unique hubs for technology, and together there is a lot of potential. But the players on both sides need to learn the landscape.

 DMCC’s Made for Trade Live event in Tel Aviv showcased trade opportunities and included various speakers from Israel and the UAE business world. (photo credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)
DMCC’s Made for Trade Live event in Tel Aviv showcased trade opportunities and included various speakers from Israel and the UAE business world.
(photo credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)

The United Arab Emirates and Israel are continuing to see new heights of trade volume. Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of the Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), spoke on Tuesday about how much Israel and the UAE have to learn from each other in the wake of the Abraham Accords and how industries such as diamonds, coffee and even water can be connected.

His speech, looking back at the time before the peace deals in September 2020 and what may come in the future, was one of several important talks held at a unique conference this week in Tel Aviv.

The DMCC held a “Made for Trade Live” event at the Tel Aviv Stock Exchange on Tuesday. The event showcased the growing trade between Israel and the UAE and also put a spotlight on the importance of the Abraham Accords – and how trade in commodities and other goods are transforming the region.

The center is Dubai’s largest free-trade zone, with some 21,000 member companies from 180 countries. Sulayem is one of the visionaries who has been working with Israelis since the Abraham Accords. This has included opening an office of the Israel Diamond Exchange at the DMCC in Dubai and many key meetings with Israeli businesspeople.

At the TASE event on Tuesday, many key players in Israel’s business community gathered while the digital ticker of stocks lit up an adjoining room.

 DMCC’s Made for Trade Live event in Tel Aviv showcased trade opportunities and included various speakers from Israel and the UAE business world. (credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN) DMCC’s Made for Trade Live event in Tel Aviv showcased trade opportunities and included various speakers from Israel and the UAE business world. (credit: SETH J. FRANTZMAN)

The Dubai-Tel Aviv trade landscape

During introductory remarks, the volume of trade between Israel and the UAE was mentioned. Last year it was $1.2 billion. In the first half of this year it was $1.4b., meaning we are on track to double the amount.

The amount of trade may not be as vast as some who rushed to do business right after the Abraham Accords imagined, because trade deals and relationships take time to build. Dubai and Tel Aviv are unique hubs for technology, and although together there is a lot of potential, players on both sides need to learn the landscape.

Sulayem said he knew about this landscape before the peace deal in 2020 and that he was just waiting for peace to happen so that progress could be made. He said he was excited to connect with Israeli industries.

WHILE THERE is a lot of trade in diamonds and precious metals, Sulayem talked about the new horizons that are emerging, such as the coffee industry. Dubai trade in products such as coffee involves re-exporting the items, because UAE isn’t a major producer of things – it is a hub.

In September, the DMCC tweeted about new innovations in water trade. It said water is “the world’s most vital resource. Key to human life and health. An increasingly scarce commodity. Stay tuned for DMCC’s next big announcement: DMCC Water Centre.”

There are opportunities here for Israeli innovators involved in water issues. Companies such as Watergen are already making deals with UAE-based companies.

Sulayem also mentioned other industries and the ways that Dubai and Tel Aviv as business hubs can be connected. He mentioned the gaming industry, with games such as Minecraft, and also crypto and blockchain technology.

The peace with the UAE shouldn’t be taken for granted, he said.

Ohad Cohen, Israel’s trade commissioner of the Foreign Trade Administration at the Economy Ministry, said: “We should do whatever we can in our capacity to cherish it, keep it, grow it and enhance it.”

He spoke with warmth about the feeling that Israelis and people in the Abraham Accords countries, such as the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco, are cousins.

“I felt this might be the beginning of a wonderful friendship,” he said of his first trip to the UAE after the peace deal was announced.

From a governmental point of view, the establishment of a free-trade agreement has helped underpin the success of the Abraham Accords. A text of the agreement online says it is “comprehensive, significant and ground-breaking, and is expected to increase bilateral trade in goods and services, increase Israeli exports to the United Arab Emirates and provide customs exemption immediately or gradually on 96% of trade between the countries: food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment, medication and more.”

Israel is working on a deal with Bahrain as well, and there are agreements with Morocco. The Jewish state also plans to open a trade office in Morocco.

Cohen highlighted another aspect of the way that Israel and the UAE are connected: flights. There are 12 flights a day, ten of which go from Tel Aviv to Dubai and the other two to Abu Dhabi.

URIEL LYNN, president of the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, encouraged the countries to work on developing trade and focusing on sectors that go beyond precious stones and the current types of products included in the trade volume. He mentioned tourism, exchange of culture and also trade in items related to irrigation and other technologies, such as green energy.

Among the other speakers present, Boaz Moldawksy, president of the Israel Diamond Exchange, highlighted the importance of the IDE in the early outreach to the DMCC.

The connection between these hi-tech cities of trade, Tel Aviv and Dubai, and between the DMCC and Israeli companies, are unique aspects of the success of the Abraham Accords. Two years after the peace deals, trade is progressing.

However, it still appears limited to several sectors, and it is clear from events such as this how much more can be done to link innovators and new technologies in both countries. Israel and the UAE share similarities, as countries that are built in a desert environment where innovation comes from necessity.

The countries also have major differences in their economies and outlook. Israel has a lot of internal trade, and it aims for self-sufficiency in an economy that grew out of having a lot of state industry and socialist-style, top-down approaches.

The UAE, on the other hand, has a lot of foreign workers, and it is a hub of trade, as opposed to trying to make everything itself. This means there are probably many ways that the economies complement each other and enable both countries to connect to others in the East Mediterranean or Asia. Toward that end, the UAE, Israel, India and the US formed the summit.

That said, there is a notion that while Israel is the Start-Up Nation, the UAE provides companies with that ability to “scale up.” The event in Tel Aviv provided a preview of where these economies might go in terms of moving to the next step of doing that.