September 2021 marks a year since the formalizing of the Abraham Accords, a historic peace treaty between Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Since then, the countries have rapidly established ties and started working together in a huge number of areas.
Once the treaty had been signed, it was just a matter of days before changes could be seen. For example, in October 2020 Etihad Airlines launched a Hebrew-language website and thousands of Israeli tourists started traveling to the UAE. Furthermore, according to Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, between September 2020 and June 2021, Israel exported $197 million of goods to the UAE and imported $372 million worth.
Very quickly, a number of groups were formed to enhance connections between the countries such as the Abu Dhabi-Israel Business Hub, UAE-Israel Business Council, Israeli-Emirati Forum, UAE-IL Tech Zone, Gulf-Israel Women’s Forum, Gulf-Israel Green Ventures and UAE Israel Innovation Office.
Perhaps one of the biggest announcements of the first year of the Abraham Accords was that of a $10 billion UAE investment funds for the Israeli energy, manufacturing, water, space, health-tech and agri-tech sectors. The funds is designed to improve economic cooperation and aid technological integration between the countries.
Some think that as much as $500 million in business was carried out between the countries in the first year of the Accords, and Israelis, with their famous entrepreneurial mentality, are busy looking for opportunities in the UAE.
One thing that Israeli businesspeople have learnt is that the business culture of the UAE is slightly different to that of Israel. In the Emirates, building personal relationships comes before business, and that is why the Israeli-Emirati Forum has been established, giving businesspeople, academics, officials, and so on, in each country the chance to communicate with each other.
Of course, those in the Emirates also need to learn about the Israeli style of conducting business, and to that end, the president of the UAE-Israel Business Council, and director of Endemaj Funds global investment and advisory house Abdulla Baqer is eager to come to Israel for a month and learn its culture.
There are many other areas where the effects of the Accords can be seen. For example, recently a memorandum of understanding was signed between the Department of Health-Abu Dhabi and Sheba Medical Center in Israel to work together on advancing medical research, healthcare and telemedicine services. There is also a cargo logistics development company currently being established in a joint capacity.
A number of academic agreements have also been signed including between the Mohamed Bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence and Israel’s Weizmann Institute of Science. They will be establishing a joint virtual institute for artificial intelligence. There are also discussions taking place to establish a food-tech and agri-tech research partnership with the Hebrew University, and many other partnerships are underway involving institutions such as the University of Haifa, the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University, the IDC Herliya, and more.
A huge amount has already been achieved under the Abraham Accords, suggesting that there will many more projects that are exciting in the years to come.