AlBanna said the signing of the CEPA between India and the UAE is most likely to happen in the second week of January. Image Credit: Ahmed Ramzan/Gulf News

Dubai: The trilateral relationship between India, the UAE and Israel is set for phenomenal growth, according to top diplomats who spoke at the India Global Forum UAE 2021 in Dubai on Tuesday.

Speaking at a session titled ‘India-UAE-Israel: New Opportunities in a New Geopolitical Era’, Dr. Ahmed Abdulrahman AlBanna, UAE Ambassador to India, reflected on the Abraham Accords and said: “The Abraham Accords were a major turning point for the overall political system in the UAE. The emphasis was on the UAE extending hands of friendship (and) cooperation, hands of a strong, new relationship and creating a new path putting behind us the old contradictions and moving ahead for creating a better lifestyle, better human interrelationship, a better economic relationship.”

“When you talk about accord, when you talk about opening up a new page, it is for the benefit of all. Not only for the UAE nationals and Israel nationals, but also for the benefit of the whole region."

Ilan Sztulman Starosta, Head of Mission, Israeli Consulate in Dubai said: “For us, this (Abraham Accords) is a dream come true. Israel has been reaching out for peace in the region for decades. That is our ultimate goal.”

He said he lives here in the UAE with his family amidst people of different faiths and nationalities and “it is a historical moment that we are living now”.

Reflecting on the wider implications of the Abraham Accords for the region and India, Dr Aman Puri, Consul General of India in Dubai, said: “India looks at it as an opportunity. We have seen that since the signing of the historic Abraham Accords, there has been exponential growth of business engagement between the UAE and Israel. Of course, it is enabling India to look at this synergy between the three countries.”

“We are quite focused on the UAE-Israel-India corridor, on the trilateral opportunities… India looks at Dubai as a very important springboard, as a gateway to this region. As you are aware, the UAE hosts the single largest group of Indian community anywhere in the world, 3.3 million strong and vibrant. So, when there is more business between the UAE and Israel, it is but natural that a significant percentage of the contribution to that trade and investment relationship will come from the Indian community here in the UAE. We are also looking at the outstanding synergy of Israel with a population of about 8 million, UAE a population of close to 10 million and India at 1.3billion…”

Areas of collaboration

AlBanna said the signing of the CEPA (comprehensive economic partnership agreement) between India and the UAE is most likely to happen in the second week of January. “That itself will be a major element in boosting the overall bilateral relationship.”

However, he noted that each of the three countries have their own strengths and “when those come and combine together that creates a much larger strength”.

According to the Indian and Israeli diplomats, there will be more focus on boosting trade and investment in various sectors such as food security, fintech, healthtech, agritech, AI, cyber security.

AlBanna said the opportunities were endless, specifically in sectors such as healthcare, education, AI, advanced technology, manufacturing, air and space and many others like renewable and solar energy. “Those are the sectors where strong attention has been paid to.”

Private sector benefits

Speakers from the private sector also hailed the Abraham Accords for improving business ties and bringing ease of business and profit for them.

Bruce Gurfein, CEO, Connect LLC, said the private sector will benefit immensely just by adding direct flights between the UAE and Israel. “We were able to reduce our operational costs from 25 to 27 per cent on just day one… Opportunities are now available to utilise technology and R&D. Companies are looking forward to capitalising on all these and making money.”

Echoing the same, Elad Levi, vice-president, head of Middle East & Africa of Israeli irrigation company Netafim, said: “We literally enjoy the direct engagement and direct relationships. We see significant opportunity and the UAE is and will be a hub for us to do business in the region and also globally.”

Ion Braun, head of the Dubai office of Israeli group DoverTower, said: “We definitely see a great potential in the air mobility and UAV (unmanned aerial vehicle) sector. Even the sky is not the limit. We are way beyond that.”

He added that the company was working on launching a software engineering company in the UAE in 2022 that will employ Indian software engineers here in the UAE that will provide for the shortage of software engineers in Egypt.”