Dubai Commodities Roadshow Hits Tel Aviv To Woo Israeli Investors
With the Abraham Accords paving the way for the dozens of Israeli companies already investing in the Emirati city, its business leaders seek to further expand the ties of trade and friendship
The Tel Aviv Stock Exchange was the venue for the first-ever “Made For Trade” live roadshow hosted by Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC), which put out a clear call for Israelis to invest in the Emirati city.
The hundreds of Israeli business leaders and entrepreneurs at the day-long event on Tuesday in Israel’s financial capital were treated to talks by big names in the Israel-Dubai business world who were keen to stress the benefits of bilateral trade and showcase opportunities in the city.
The DMCC says it has brought more than 70 Israeli companies into its free trade business district, primarily in technology, crypto and diamonds. The latter has seen a strong relationship develop between Israeli and Emirati industry leaders, with the DMCC and the Israel Diamond Exchange opening offices in each other’s countries.
The Abraham Accords, signed at the White House in Washington in September 2020, established fully normalized ties between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain. In May 2022, Israel and the UAE signed a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) to advance bilateral trade to more than $10 billion within the next five years.
In his welcoming remarks at the roadshow, DMCC Executive Chairman Ahmed Bin Sulayem praised the Abraham Accords and hailed the resulting partnership between Israel and the UAE.
“As a result of the UAE-Israel CEPA, there is no better time for Israeli businesses to set up and expand their operations in Dubai,” he said.
In a later conversation with reporters at the roadshow on Tuesday, Bin Sulayem said that he has had the Israeli market in mind for at least two decades, certain that peace between the two countries was inevitable.
Bin Sulayem first visited Israel in 2001, with a plan to “learn, network, build relations, [so] by the time the peace comes we’ve covered a lot of ground.”
Even back then, he said, “we knew that peace would come; one way or the other it’s going to come.” When that did eventually happen, Bin Sulayem said, “we wanted to be ready.”
You don’t have a lot of cities like Tel Aviv and Dubai all over the Middle East
Optimistically, he said that “from that visit I thought [peace] was two years away.” He eventually gave up on the hope of a formal relationship between Israel and the UAE, but “then when I stopped thinking about it at all, we get this nice surprise” of the Abraham Accords.
“It’s an amazing market to bounce ideas back and forth and connect with,” he said of Israel. “There are so many opportunities that have been uncovered. … You don’t have a lot of cities like Tel Aviv and Dubai all over the Middle East.”
Bin Sulayem said that water is a commodity of great interest in Israeli-Dubai trade, citing talks with Petah Tikva-based company Watergen, which produces potable water from the atmosphere.
“I heard about [Watergen] and then I met them on my last trip here,” he said in answer to a question from The Media Line. “They would like to have a few of their products in some of the areas where people can use [them].”
Mickey Blumenthal, the DMCC representative in Israel and a managing partner at one of the country’s leading accounting firms, told The Media Line that there has been a visible increase in the number of Israeli businesses active in the UAE in the past two years.
“The mission is to bring Israeli companies to Dubai and make Dubai a gateway for the rest of the world,” he said.
Blumenthal also said that the water industry will become a key aspect of the business relationships established between the countries.
“I know that there is no water in the UAE, so water will be important,”’ he said. “The relationships are really new, so in the future water will be one of the most important aspects … for Israeli high-tech companies that deal with water – working in Dubai and through Dubai to the Arab [world].”
The mission is to bring Israeli companies to Dubai and make Dubai a gateway for the rest of the world
Blumenthal highlighted the way in which Israeli-owned companies operate in the Dubai free-trade zones – the special economic areas that offer financial incentives on tax and customs duty to foreign investors, which grants them access to other parts of the region.
“Now there are also many Israeli companies there,” he said of the free zones. “Most of the work of the DMCC is toward the world, not inside Dubai. The companies that are registered in the DMCC free zones aim to use this … as a gateway.”
Blumenthal pointed out that while Israeli companies cannot work directly with Saudi Arabia or Qatar, “through the UAE it becomes possible.”
“If you work through the Emirates, you are considered Emirati. You are a real Emirati company. It doesn’t matter if your parent company or shareholders are Israeli or from the rest of the world,” he said.