First-Ever Green Tech Deal Signed Between Emirati, Israeli Companies
The bidirectional agreement will see Israeli green technologies exported to the Gulf region, Emirati tech exported to Israel
A deal signed between the Israeli company Gulf-Israel Green Ventures (GIGV) and the Emirati United Stars Group (USG), lays the groundwork for the trade of green technologies between the two countries. The Gulf countries have set ambitious environmental goals, which are rapidly developing, and Israel has a lot to offer, says Asher Fredman, GIGV CEO.
The deal announced on Sunday that was signed between Fredman and USG founder and president, Omar Al Suwaidi, is intended to facilitate trade specifically in green technologies between the countries. The two companies said in a statement that “the historic deal is focusing on sustainable development projects in the broader Gulf region.” This is the first agreement of its kind between an Israeli and Emirati company. The partner companies already are working on a joint project in a large commercial and residential development project being built in Dubai.
“GIGV is working to bring green technologies and innovation to the UAE and to the wider Gulf as well. There’s great demand, there’s great interest, there’s very broad and ambitious goals,” Fredman told The Media Line. The UAE is looking to become a leader in green tech, he says, “and Israel has cutting-edge green tech.”
In November 2020, the Emirati Cabinet approved a comprehensive environmental policy. The policy lists eight key subjects, which include, for example, climate change and environmental protection. The plan sets such long-term goals as reducing energy consumption by 40% by 2030 and, for 2050, increasing the percentage of clean energy being used to 50% of all energy use.
Eitan Parnass, who heads the Green Energy Association of Israel, explains that Israel is a world-class pioneer in green technologies, and has been one for a long time. “The first solar power plants in the world were built by a company from Jerusalem called Luz,” he told The Media Line.
Parnass says that in recent years, a change in policy has brought Israel to second place globally in the integration of solar energy. Israel has products to sell, he explains, “and now, on the other side, there are people that need to buy because Abu Dhabi, Dubai and so on, the Emirates, are growing and developing. There’s modern construction over there, sky scrapers, and they build everything state of the art.” He adds that “whatever succeeds in the UAE will succeed more easily in Saudi Arabia.”
There’s a lot of interest because now that we’re getting to know each other, there’s quite a lot of interest to see what Israel has to offer
Fredman listed a series of Israeli green technologies that are currently on the table for exporting to the Gulf. These include energy-efficient heating and cooling, energy-efficient utilities and technology to improve indoor air quality, which Fredman points out has recently gained in importance due to the COVID-19 pandemic. “And of course,” he adds, “the areas that Israel is classically associated with: water recycling, water management.”
According to Fredman, an additional reason behind the deal is the scale of development currently taking place in the Gulf. “The Gulf – the UAE, but other Gulf countries as well, are undergoing such rapid development, building, infrastructure development,” he says, and Israel has the tech to combine this growth with their environmental goals.
Israel normalized relations with the UAE and Bahrain in September 2020, as part of a larger set of agreements called the Abraham Accords. Relations between the countries are fully normalized, and include diplomatic relations, trade and tourism. Many expect Oman and Saudi Arabia to eventually follow their neighbors in forging official ties with Israel.
Fredman explains that one of the reasons propelling interest in Israeli green technology is curiosity following on the heels of the agreements. “There’s a lot of interest because now that we’re getting to know each other, there’s quite a lot of interest to see what Israel has to offer,” he said.
Al Suwaidi told The Media Line that his interest in Israeli technology, and specifically environmental technology, arose from the prosperity and success enjoyed by the Israeli high-tech sector. “Despite the challenges facing high-tech companies in Israel,” he said, “Israel was able to achieve remarkable prosperity.”
The agreement between the companies is not intended to be a one-way street. At first, Fredman says, his company is looking to import “environmentally friendly construction materials,” in which, he says, “there’s some very interesting development happening in the UAE.” In the future, GIGV would like to advance Emirati-Israeli co-development of new technologies.
Al Suwaidi points further in the future, to long-term technological Emirati goals. The UAE has an artificial intelligence program intended to accelerate development in this field and the technology’s integration into state functions. In addition, by 2057, the Emiratis expect to complete a smart police project in Abu Dhabi. And, finally, as hard as this may be to imagine, the UAE plans to complete a residential city on Mars no later than 2117. Far in the future, indeed.
GIGV is expecting more such deals soon, and, Fredman said, “once Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries join the circle of peace, there’s a lot of potential in those directions as well.”