Medved: How Israel and Gulf economies can do the 'business of peace'

Event hosted by Tel Aviv's International Salon and OurCrowd with the group Sharaka discussed how business ties and partnerships will move Israel-Gulf ties forward

Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Jon Medved, CEO of OurCrowd
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Business relationships, if they are going to be long term, will be community and socially based,” said Sabah al-Binali at an online event with Our Crowd’s Jon Medved, hosted with the Tel Aviv’s International Salon on Tuesday.
The event, in partnership with Sharaka, a group that promotes coexistence in the wake of the Abraham Accords, discussed the “Business of Peace” and looked at new Israel relations with the United Arab Emirates. The event was the latest to underpin the excitement in the Gulf and Israel for the new peace deals. They have been cemented along with new normalization agreements with Morocco and Sudan, as well the end of the Gulf crisis between Saudi Arabia and Qatar.  
Medved said that the really important business that is going to be done in the future with the Gulf and others is about gaining trust and building a long-lasting relationship. While Israelis and Emiratis are moving fast, the need to deepen the partnerships that are developing is important.
He noted that he is building human and corporate relationships. Binali, who agreed with these notions, is the Gulf partner for Our Crowd. Medved is a serial entrepreneur and, according to The Washington Post, “one of Israel’s leading high tech venture capitalists.”  
Medved looked back with fond memories to a trip to Abu Dhabi in 2019 when he was invited to speak at an investment conference sponsored by a sovereign wealth fund and he noted that the Gulf was already open to Israel at that time.
People in the UAE wanted to hear about Israel. “We saw this coming,” he says. In the past, companies he has worked with have had partners in the Gulf. He praised the leadership on both sides and the help of the US for making this peace deal come to fruition.
OurCrowd was started in 2013 and says it was “driven by the idea that the business of building startups grows bigger and better when the global ‘crowd’ gains access to VC-level investment opportunities.” Today, OurCrowd is a global venture investing platform that “empowers institutions and individuals to invest and engage in emerging companies,” the group says.
Israeli and Emirati businesses have had contacts in the past in other places in the world, but the peace deal has now made partnerships more straightforward.
Arsen Ostrovsky, an international human rights lawyer, moderated the discussion and asked the questions. Binali said the recent normalization deal is a positive development and he is happy to have seen it happen in his lifetime. This is a theme many in Israel, from president Reuven Rivlin to people in the UAE, have highlighted over the last months.
Our Crowd is one of many Israeli groups that have an interest in quickly working with partners in the UAE. In December, some 50,000 Israelis flew to Dubai. Many who went took part in the GITEX tech conference while others went to an organic conference. Next month, IDEX, a security conference, will take place and dozens of Israeli exhibitors will take part.
All this is part of an ecosystem of trade that is developing. It includes the first venture capital investments, such as Maniv Mobility investing in Fenix in November, and Oasis Investments signing a memorandum with Fluence water in Israel.  
There are many ways Israel and people in the Gulf can work together. Binali noted that logistics has changed a lot in recent years, mentioning DP World and other global giants in logistics and travel that are located in the UAE. He noted that combining these giants with Israeli innovation will be one of the themes we see going forward.
The audience, who watched online, asked what Medved and Binali had learned from each other’s societies since the new peace deals had been secured. Medved said he admired how Emiratis dress and “glide through life.”  In the UAE, the national dress is a comfortable kandura, a full-length male robe. He said people he had met in the UAE were genuine, kind, smart and sweet.
Binali said he had found Israelis were not afraid of making mistakes and that this was useful, because part of the learning process is to fail. “What we can learn from the Israel is that there are times when we can move fast and balance that with strategic planning.”
He predicted a future of great businesses forming from the relationship, and synthesizing Israel’s fast execution with the strategic planning seen in the Gulf.