Joining Forces in Business: UAE and Israel

Bank Hapoalim and the Ministry of Economy’s Israel Export Institute made history this week when they led the first ever delegation of 200 Israeli tech company owners in Dubai

Israeli businesspeople on a tour of the “Sustainable Cities” project in Dubai (Courtesy) (photo credit: BANK HAPOALIM)
Israeli businesspeople on a tour of the “Sustainable Cities” project in Dubai (Courtesy)
(photo credit: BANK HAPOALIM)
 ‘The groundwork for our participation in the Gitex innovation summit was laid in September of this year, when a delegation led by Dov Kotler and Reuven Krupik, CEO and Chairman of Bank Hapoalim travelled to the United Arab Emirates.
They met with senior representatives of the local government and economy, signed cooperation agreements with the two largest banks in Abu Dhabi and Dubai and memoranda of understanding regarding the country’s trade areas and established the foundations for future collaborations. That was also when the decision was taken to set up a delegation to the conference, in collaboration with the Israel Export Institute in the Ministry of Economy. After a professional committee selected the 200 participating entrepreneurs in the delegation, we set off.
“What sets the current conference apart is that it is the only one in the world being held in person this year and not via Zoom, and there was significant interest. The second day was selected to be ‘Israel Innovation Discovery Day’, and it was an exciting event that put us in the spotlight. Representatives of the bank, including Kotler and Krupik, took to the main stage alongside representatives from the Ministry of Economy and the Israel Export Institute on the one hand and the Emirates on the other, and talked about business and personal dynamics going forward and about how they envision future collaborations.
All of this happened with the understanding that deals are not made right off the bat. Both sides are still cautious, and it’s impossible to immediately overcome decades-old divides with a single handshake.
“It’s important for Israeli entrepreneurs to understand that the Emiratis are not looking for a start-up to pour money into. They know the Jewish mindset can help them develop, and they want dialogue, innovative ideas, and collaborations that can be actualized.
Subsidiaries that both they and the Israeli entrepreneur will invest in together, for example, and they will then market the product or service in their area using their connections and capabilities. Thus, success in the UAE will open channels to the Arab world for many Israeli bodies, as well as to huge markets in which we don’t have many footholds, such as the Far East and Australia.
“For us, this conference is a rare opportunity to utilize the bank’s significant advantage as a leading and recognized financial entity to provide a platform for a network of relationships between entrepreneurs and potential customers, creating an infrastructure for dialogue between them.
It is important for each side to discover which areas of content interest the other side, and where they need help. For example, the Emirates don’t need us in the field of construction, but we can produce a technological solution for them aimed at minimizing work accidents at construction sites.
Technology is of great interest to them, and there is huge demand for knowledge and experience in areas such as smart cities, big data, fintech, medtech, agtech, autonomous vehicles, and communication solutions—fields in which Israel is considered a leading country. Our job is to identify the Emirati customers and bring them together with Israeli companies and entrepreneurs who specialize in these areas.
“I don’t expect even ten Israeli companies to sign agreements with Emirati bodies in the next two months. Expectations always run slightly ahead of reality. The bank will consider it a success, in a few months, the Israeli companies and entrepreneurs continue their interactive dialogue with their Emirati counterparts and deepen it, establishing the initial trust and gaining confidence. Overall, I think we are doing something very significant here, with a real purpose. We are laying the foundations for economic peace—because we believe that economic reciprocity can bring peace to this region.”