Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 20 September 2020

UAE estimates value of business deals with Israel at $550m

Minister of Economy Abdulla Al Marri says the country's ties with Israel will benefit the Palestinians

The UAE estimates the value of business deals to come as a result of the normalisation of relations with Israel to be in the range of $300 million to $550 million (Dh1.1 billion – Dh2bn).

Minister of Economy Abdulla Al Marri said that an exact figure would be announced soon. Israeli officials have estimated there will be $500 million in trade between the two nations.

Mr Al Marri has been in Washington this week as part of a UAE delegation led by Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Co-operation. Sheikh Abdullah signed the Abraham Accord at the White House on Tuesday.

Mr Al Marri said “it was a day where we look towards the future with optimism, hope and confidence”.

The peace treaty sets out the normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel including co-operation across a number of sectors including health care, food security, aviation, finance, tourism, energy and science and technology.

Mr Al Marri said he and Israel’s economy minister during a call on Wednesday discussed how any economic deals or initiatives would benefit Palestinians.

“We have confirmation and assertion from both parties that this agreement would bring benefits for the Palestinians.”

More broadly, Mr Al Marri said, “everyone would benefit” from stronger economic growth that could be sparked by the accord.

The UAE and Israel “will allow goods, services, investments to grow across our borders, we will host an exchange of scientists, executives, the students, academic experts and religious leaders and tourists”.

The UAE’s position as a regional hub offers Israeli companies an opportunity to scale up, he said, comparing the Emirates with Israel’s economic strengths as mentioned in the book Start-up Nation.

“So from start-up nation in Israel to scale up nation in the UAE … how can the UAE be a gateway for North Africa, for the Middle East, for Asia, as well latching on our expertise in logistics, and transportation, and what we're really good at, and the UAE is a great place of scale up.”

“I think it's important to look at that we are, in the UAE, very strong on trade. We're very strong as hubs of logistics of airlines of construction, and as well as advancement of tourism as well in the region.

“We don't need to compete, we can complement and that's important.”

Joint development of solar power for the benefit of the entire region could be a key area of co-operation for the UAE and Israel, he said. Food security is also another important sector for the Middle East being discussed by the UAE and Israel.

The two countries are approaching the opportunity presented by the accord with “an attitude of excitement, curiosity, and a lot of ambiguity”.

The UAE has been looking at how it can be more agile and adaptive in the wake of the global Covid-19 pandemic, he said. The plan for the future of the economy after it has subsided is to diversify its mix further and ensure it is fit for what will be needed a decade from now, Mr Al Marri said.

Investment in research and development was the most critical factor in helping economies to pick back up.

“Simple as that investment in R&D technology that will take you further. I think that's the most important part. Another part is reducing tariffs on trade. That would help us as well to trade faster and get the economy back on recovery straightaway,” he said.

Updated: September 17, 2020 06:18 PM

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