International conference in Dubai signals new chapter for Middle East

An important step in realizing the economic potential of Israel’s relations with the Gulf states and in making the dream of peace between the peoples of the region come true

THE FLAGS of the US, UAE, Israel and Bahrain are projected on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City in September. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
THE FLAGS of the US, UAE, Israel and Bahrain are projected on the walls of Jerusalem’s Old City in September.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Politicians, scientists, technologists, and businesspeople from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, China, India, and Morocco will participate in the Global Investment Forum starting June 2.
Prof. Rafi Beyar, former director of Rambam Medical Center: “At this time, when medicine is at the center of our lives, I attach critical importance to regional cooperation between Israel and the Arab world. Peace between nations can crystallize into peace between peoples, thus turning an ancient dream into a new reality.”
Businesspeople and politicians often praise the official, political and economic aspects of the peace agreement between the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain with Israel, known as the Abraham Accords. Indeed, the agreement will make an invaluable contribution to the economic strength of the signatory states. But there’s more. In truth, much of its positive impact will be in making peace between countries and peace between people. Its importance and value will be measured by its ability to dispel suspicion and remove the deep mutual fears that, until recently, separated the peoples.
Some years ago, I received a scholarship to study for a master’s degree at Harvard University. I had served in the rank of Lt. Col. in the IDF. When I arrived at the university in the United States, I found that five other students all from the Arab world had received a similar scholarship to mine. Initially, we all felt a bit uncomfortable with each other, and had reservations and concerns. However, after a short time, good personal connections developed, and we got used to working together. We understood that there is no substitute for the deep layer of direct human connection, and we discovered that cooperation was the best and safest way to reach important achievements and advance at a faster pace. 
Ofra Preuss, International media and business affairs consultant with concentration in the us, Israel, China and Middle East. (Courtesy)Ofra Preuss, International media and business affairs consultant with concentration in the us, Israel, China and Middle East. (Courtesy)
 
Towards the end of our studies, we all dreamed that together we would some day succeed in bringing about changes that would change the lives of our countries’ citizens for the better. To that end, we maintained ties even during periods of severe tensions in the Middle East. We used  those ties many times, including my involvement behind the scenes in developing business relations between Israel and Arab countries and the United States.
Now it seems that complete peace between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain —  built on mutual respect and including diplomatic relations, the abolition of any kind of boycott and free entry of citizens — will bring this dream dramatically closer to fulfillment. It removes psychological and cultural barriers that have developed over decades of conflict, wars, and the spread of prejudice. It allows businesspeople, economists, and ordinary citizens to meet without fear, openly, to exchange views and reach understandings and agreements.
The walls separating us are collapsing, and a new chapter in economic relations between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain has opened. The potential for their flourishing is enormous and is especially promising in areas rich in science and technology, such as medicine, public health, space, water, innovative agriculture, green energy, environmental sustainability, cyber, analysis, and utilization of “Big Data,” biotechnology and more. In most of these fields, Israel is considered a leader  on a global scale. The United Arab Emirates, for its part, is showing great interest and has demonstrated a strong desire to enjoy the fruits of Israeli technologies that are in line with its multi-year development plans. 
A  prominent new arena for realizing the potential and accelerating rapprochement will be an international economic policy conference – the 2021 Global Investment Forum, which will open on June 2 at the Armani Hotel in Dubai with the participation of  government officials, technologists, scientists, and businesspeople from Israel, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, China, Egypt, India, and Morocco.
Among the specific topics to be discussed:  medical technology after the Corona plague; innovation in water and agriculture research; the impact of the Middle East business sector on environmental sustainability; ways of  penetrating the Chinese market; Morocco’s role as the economic gateway to the African continent; and India’s place as the global center of pharmaceutical development.
Ahead of the conference, Prof. Rafi Beyar, former director of Rambam Health Care Campus and co-founder and Managing General Partner of ALIVE, said: “We are pleased to have the opportunity to meet with our colleagues and strengthen our connections with them. At a time when medicine is at the center of our lives and is undergoing profound and great change, I attach critical importance to regional cooperation between Israel, the United Arab Emirates, and the entire Arab world in this field.”
The 2021 Global Investment Forum  will not only serve as a central platform for lectures and presentations but, above all, will be an open space for conducting a fruitful dialogue between the participants from different countries and for creating new personal  connections. Bridges between peoples are built on shared interests, but they are traversed by human beings, who meet in the middle of the road. Without them, the bridge would stand empty. My personal experience from both open and covert encounters with men and women from the Arab world shows that when mutual trust is created – when together we work to overcome the  baggage of the past – it is possible to bring about a transformation in  relationships. This  changed dynamic will  lead directly to  improving the quality and standard of living of all  peoples of the area.
The purpose of the 2021 Global Investment Forum  is to make  this dream come true.