After the Abraham Accords were signed with the UAE, many articles have been published in the Israeli newspapers and I have read each and every one of them. None of the articles was totally comprehensive, and they depicted the potential of the economic cooperation in certain limited areas.
However, by the end of our visit to the UAE last month, hosted by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry, and after reading parts of the book, My Story by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, my concept of Dubai and the UAE has remarkably changed.
Within the framework of activities of the World Chambers Federation, I had the privilege to make an acquaintance with Hamad Buamim, President & CEO, Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry. Based on the friendship we formed, it was easy to sing an MoU between the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, aiming at strategic cooperation between the two organisations.
In this very spirit, my colleagues in Israel, the Manufacturers Association of Israel and The Israel Export & International Cooperation Institute joined and adopted the contents of our singed MoU.
As I mentioned earlier, my idea of the UAE, and especially Dubai, has changed after having met in person the management and staff of several organisations in the emirate as well as after reading the book My Story by His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai.
Not only do I value business in its direct form and results, but I also value the attitude and the basic principles in which countries and business people build and promote their economies. Respect, politeness, honesty and openness are the platforms on which we wish to build friendship and the mutual satisfaction of working together with the UAE.
The potential of economic collaboration between the UAE and the Israeli business communities is immense and in no less than two years of cooperation we will be able to upgrade the economies of both countries. One of the reasons is that we share similar basic approach to business and we also aim for the same goals.
Israel can contribute a lot to the economy of Dubai by bringing the most advanced technologies in desert agriculture, including irrigation and desalination.
I am a great believer in mutual trade and joint investments and what is no less important is also advancing the quality of life of people and increasing the purchasing power of families. The economic potential portrayed in a joint study by the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry and the Federation of Israeli Chambers of Commerce, presents most of the economic opportunities in detail. This will be available to everyone in both countries.
In the book of Shaikh Mohammad, I found a section on page 48, which contributed to my understanding of Dubai’s prosperity. In 1902, after the Iranian administration in Bandar Lengeh raised taxes for merchants on that side of the Gulf, former ruler of Dubai Shaikh Maktoum Bin Hasher Al Maktoum abolished all customs duties on imports, opened up Dubai’s port and welcomed all traders.
The policy, which was established in Dubai 118 years ago, committed to free global trade. I believe this was the cornerstone to the success of the free zones in the UAE today. The UAE’s openness to foreigners and free trade is what makes it one of the leading countries in global trade.
Areas of cooperation
Israel can contribute a lot to the economy of Dubai by bringing the most advanced technologies in desert agriculture, including irrigation and desalination. We can combine efforts in promoting solar energy to replace fossil fuels. We can work together on the growth and supply of food supplements. The collaboration in fintech and finance have already started with the initiatives of two major banks in Israel.
The medical field is wide open for future cooperation in the pharmaceutical and medical equipment sectors. Surely, there can be mutual trade in chemicals and plastic products. My estimate is that after the launch of regular and direct flights to and from the UAE, there will be a shift in trend of Israeli tourism and the UAE can expect no less than half a million tourists flowing from Israel in the forthcoming years.
In addition, there is a wide area for cooperation in logistics in all its aspects — air and maritime freight. The free zones in the UAE with all their excellent facilities and services, coupled with the advantage of tax fee environment, are certainly a great opportunity for Israeli corporations to establish a bridge from which they can move more effectively to new markets in the Gulf states, the Arab peninsula and India.
Our joint research also provides several key recommendations. However, I think, that the most important goal is to reach total free trade agreement in the near future. Finally, I need to point out a very important structural change in Israel’s economy. Our export of services is equal to the export of products and this is primarily due to research and development (R&D) and software.