Israeli firsts in Dubai include diamonds and organic technology

New restrictions will slow down Israeli travel by the 26th of December due to the coronavirus pandemic.

AN ISRAELI poses with Emiratis in Dubai last week. It’s time to pay attention to Arabs who live here, too. (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE)
AN ISRAELI poses with Emiratis in Dubai last week. It’s time to pay attention to Arabs who live here, too.
With an estimated 70,000 Israelis now having visited Dubai since the first flights began on November 26, the number of “firsts” for Israelis continues to grow.
Israelis attended the GITEX tech confab in massive numbers in early December. Then they were the first Israelis to present at the Middle East Organic and Natural Products Expo and the first Israelis to take part in the largest rough diamond tender by the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC).
The DMCC is the “world’s flagship Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise,” it says.
DMCC announced it had hosted the “largest rough diamond tender ever to take place in the UAE” on December 17. The massive number of diamonds included 379,912 carats of rough diamonds sold, valued at some $87.47 million, with 115 winning customers and 250 companies participating.
“500 individuals flew into Dubai to take part in the event with delegates from India, Hong Kong, Russia, Israel, Belgium and Lebanon,” DMCC said. “The record-breaking tender, organized by Stargems DMCC in Almas Tower, offered clients the opportunity to bid for rough diamonds from South Africa and Angola over an eight-day period.”
Ahmed Sultan bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of DMCC, said: “Despite the obstacles posed by the pandemic, this record-breaking tender is a tremendous boost of confidence for the entire industry and testament to the strength and resilience of Dubai’s diamond ecosystem. DMCC’s strategic location, unmatched global connectivity and state-of-the-art infrastructure mean that we remain the destination of choice for the international trade.”
DMCC opened an office in the Israel Diamond Exchange in early December, and Sulayem said he is excited about the opportunities peace with Israel presents.
Meanwhile, Eliyahu McLean, a sales manager for Eco Friend, said he saw huge interest in Eco Friend’s products and Israeli innovation at the recent Organic and Natural Products Expo. Thousands came to the expo and saw the three Israeli participants, as well as a Palestinian company called Pal Herbs.
This is the Middle East’s sole business event that focuses on organic and natural products, its organizers say. It is supported by the UAE Climate Change and Environment Ministry and represents the Emirates’ support for ecological initiatives.
There were three Israeli companies this year, which made Israel one of the main exhibitors from the 10 countries that participated. This is similar to Israel’s footprint at GITEX, where some 150 Israeli companies were among the 1,200 exhibitors.
It was a first, but it was also a big first. Israeli companies have played a role in the UAE in the past, even before the peace deal, but through subsidiaries or partner companies in other countries that did business there.
The peace deals changed that, and Israelis have been rushing to Dubai to take part in everything. Important initiatives, such as the UAE-Israel Business Council, have helped pave the way for new partnerships between companies in Israel and the Gulf.
Co-founders Fleur Hassan-Nahoum and Dorian Barak underline that in discussions about their recent success in helping companies and industry leaders meet.
McLean found the organic market exciting with a steady stream of people coming to the Israeli booth. Arugot Natural Organic Skincare was also at the expo. Eco Friend makes nontoxic, plant-based alternatives that McLean said include a line of some 22 products, such as laundry soap, floor soap and window-cleaning supplies.
They brought samples to the show in Dubai and found that people wanted them and were eager to do business. This included interest in business in the Gulf and farther afield because the UAE is a hub for Asia and businesspeople from around the world.
As the relationships Israel is developing in the Gulf grow, this unique combination of Tel Aviv and Dubai as regional trade hubs linking Europe and Asia has keen strategic importance for the overall corridor that links Greece, Israel, the UAE, the wider Gulf and India with Asian markets in general.
New restrictions will slow down Israeli travel by December 26 due to the coronavirus pandemic. However, a month of travel has shown just how great the potential is for Israel-Gulf ties.