In dealing with a broad range of businesses, nationalities and cultures, I’m frequently reminded of the speed at which the UAE has developed over its almost 52-year history. However, if I were to draw a similar comparison, it would be the speed at which Israel and the UAE have forged a significant friendship.
As a passenger on the very first commercial flight from Dubai to Tel Aviv, on November 26, 2020, there was no doubt that our collaboration would offer many opportunities but certainly, the numbers, despite the pandemic and various other socioeconomic challenges, paint a clear picture about our accomplishments to date and why our shared future is a bright one.
Bilateral commerce more than doubled
Within just two years of signing the Abraham Accords, the UAE jumped to become one of Israel’s top 20 trading partners, with bilateral commerce more than doubling in 2022. According to Ambassador H.E. Amir Hayek at the time, trade increased by 109.7% to $2.56 billion (NIS 9.2 b.) in 2022 from $1.22 (NIS 4.40) in 2021, not including software as a business.
By reducing or removing tariffs on more than 96% of tariff lines and 99% of trade value, thanks to the signing of the Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) that went into effect on April 1, 2023, bilateral trade is now likely to exceed $10 b. (NIS 36 b.) within the next five years, a target shared by the UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi who highlighted the “exciting new collaborations with Israel’s advanced technology ecosystem” and the opportunity to “pioneer new solutions in renewable energy, agri-tech and healthcare.”
Beyond business, the Abraham Accords have also opened up the door to greater shared cultural experiences. With an estimated 150,000 Israeli tourists visiting the UAE in the last 10 months of 2022, Dubai’s kosher food industry has also gathered momentum through restaurants including Armani/Kaf and joint ventures between companies, such as Kosher Arabia and Emirates Flight Catering.
Where DMCC is concerned, our establishment of a representative office in Tel Aviv, as well as a formal collaboration between our respective diamond exchanges has helped to shape a new era for the industry, while our Made For Trade Live event helped to showcase our developments and specifically how they can support existing Israeli businesses while providing the right environment for entrepreneurs and start-ups alike.
We have seen an increase in Israeli businesses across several sectors who have opened offices in DMCC to grow their business at a quicker speed and into countries they did not have access to before.
This is just the beginning and we will be exploring new areas of collaboration as we continue to scale our contribution not only to each other but in support of the region playing a greater role as a global center for connectivity, technology, trade and innovation. As you say in Hebrew, may the UAE-Israel relationship continue to go from strength to strength. I wish you a Pesach Sameach, Happy Easter and Ramadan Kareem.
The writer is the executive chairman and CEO of DMCC.