Immediately following the signing of the UAE-Israel treaty, Israel, the two nations plus the US established a $3 billion joint development fund. The three did not stipulate that the fund serve one particular purpose.
Instead, it was undetermined, but the broad agreement was that the fund be reserved for future development activity. Therefore, it is important to decide exactly how this shall be spent.
Some might advise to spend it on tech and agricultural research and development, and on other innovative projects. However, it is unclear whether a monetary fund such as this is even necessary for technological development, given the fact that the UAE is willing to invest its own money in such initiatives, both at home and in Israel, and has already allocated resources necessary for such potential investments.
Why not on this?
Consequently, due to the dramatic changes the UAE is about to undergo in terms of economic and technological restructuring, and its new relationship with Israel, which provides it with access to advanced technologies, the most important application for the $3 billion is technological education.
The UAE needs a solid educational and instructional infrastructure, in order to educate and train its younger generations and to reignite its economy, establish new companies, and seek employment in local high-tech, fintech, agro-tech and other next-gen areas.
Such educational institutions would also produce the workers necessary to independently operate and maintain the UAE's new tech economy, without relying on a foreign workforce.
Additionally, this money can serve Israel to establish local tech-focussed education projects, especially for the underprivileged sectors of the population, such as the Bedouins, Druze and Palestinians. New universities and colleges can be established to train them as future engineers and entrepreneurs.
Therefore, spending the joint development fund on education is of the utmost importance. Funds can be allocated so that $600 million to $700 million end up being spent in the UAE and a similar amount in Israel.
The remainder of 1.6 billion is reserved for future, long-term projects, dedicated to high-tech. Let’s get innovative with how precious funds are spent.
- Samuel Shay is Chairman of Israel - UAE Business Forum.