Bank Leumi, UAE bank, negotiating partnership amid normalization

Shmulik Arbel, an executive at Bank Leumi, said the collaboration might influence other countries to follow suit on normalization.

Israelis walk past a branch of Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv (photo credit: REUTERS/GIL COHEN MAGEN)
Israelis walk past a branch of Bank Leumi in Tel Aviv
Israel's Bank Leumi has been negotiating a partnership with an unnamed bank in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to a Calcalist report on Wednesday, citing Shmulik Arbel, First Executive Vice President and head of the corporate and commercial section of the bank.
The report comes amid the recent UAE-Israel normalization agreement that has opened both countries to relations in a variety of areas, from security collaboration to trade. 
“We, at Leumi, believe there is a golden opportunity for collaborations here and we intend to be an active party,” said Arbel in a comment to the Calcalist. The report noted that Bank Leumi is seeking to aid Israeli businesses in establishing a presence in the UAE, in collaboration with the Emirati bank. 
“We started negotiations over the past few days with one of the leading banks in Dubai, to form a partnership that would assist the clients of each of the banks,” Arbel added. 
When asked about the significance business ties that can come from collaboration, Arbel told the Calcalist “that in light of the current crisis, the importance of normalizing the relationship between Israel and the UAE becomes even greater," while also suggesting that the normalization agreement represents a highly important breakthrough in the regional status quo for Israel's economic interests.
Arbel also added that it might influence other countries to follow suit. 
“This agreement opens up new doors not only to the business sector but to the general public as well,” he said.
"It is easy to fantasize about vacationing in Dubai, but the collaboration with the UAE needs to be wider and deeper and include a partnership between business entities from Israel and the UAE,” Arbel noted.
Arbel further contended that this is only the beginning of the UAE-Israel relationship, pointing out that future partnerships will likely occur in hi-tech, agriculture, healthcare and water desalination, all of which are valuable sectors of the Israeli economy.