In a recent article in Khaleej Times, Dr. Fahed Al Meraabi, chairman and chief executive of Zurich Capital Funds discussed how Israeli companies are expected to invest in various UAE sectors to the tune of USD 500 million, in major sectors such as real estate, fintech, blockchain, and digital banking platforms.
Having discussed the synergies with a whole host of experts in Israel in an article in IsraelDesks magazine, we caught up with thought leaders in the UAE.
“Over the last number of months many of the conversations on investments in the UAE centered around innovation and technology,” said Stephen McKenna, Abu Dhabi partner at Clyde & Co, the Middle East’s largest full-service law firm.
“These sectors represent excellent fields in which to invest, particularly bearing in mind Israel’s leading technology offerings. There is a definite synergy here as the UAE is very open to embracing new technologies and challenging conventional business norms, particularly when it comes to retail/ FMCG. Other fields that of interest are construction and infrastructure. There has always been a heavy investment in infrastructure in UAE and, of course, it has one of the world’s most active construction sectors. One just needs to look at the ambitious Etihad Rail project which is currently being rolled out across the Emirates and other projects like the Abu Dhabi Metro, which represent solid opportunities for Israeli businesses. Tourism and hospitality are also of interest. Looking at the number of kosher food hospitality offerings that are currently available in the UAE, this is sure to grow in the future. The opening up of direct travel between the UAE and Israel represents a valuable mutual opportunity in the tourism sector – a new and unique experience for travelers from both countries,” added Stephen.
Rodolphe Pellerin, national partner in the Dubai office of Dechert shares the enthusiasm: “We anticipate that the tech, oil/energy, tourism and travel and pharma sectors are likely to present the best opportunities for cross-border investments, joint ventures and generally increased cooperation between market participants in both countries.”
Rodolphe adds: “Israel is well established as a world-class technological hub which rivals (albeit on a smaller scale) Silicon Valley and China. The UAE (and in particular Dubai) has, in recent years, focused on innovation with a strong desire to attract and invest in technology companies. The UAE has recently developed a favorable eco-system for tech companies with a number of incubation hubs, some of which are government sponsored (such as the DIFC FinTech Hub for example). The tech sector presents significant opportunities for cross-border cooperation and investments.”
From a tourism point of view, the UAE is a well-established travel destination and a travel hub with two major long-haul airlines, Emirates Airlines (based in Dubai) and Etihad (based in Abu Dhabi). “The travel sector is very well developed in the UAE with a large number of hotels and resorts and is therefore a compelling destination for Israeli tourists in and of itself. The Israeli traveling public is likely to benefit from the increased competition between their national airlines (flying out of Israel) and the UAE carriers.
With the normalization of ties, Israel can now be a customer for UAE’s oil output. It is likely that the oil trade is likely to increase between the two countries. Also, there is a push by the UAE to diversify its economy away from fossil fuels – and the UAE is likely to be interested in (for investments or to bring into the UAE) clean energy solutions coming out of Israel. We foresee significant cooperation between the two countries in the field of pharma research and investments (with some degree of cooperation in respect of COVID-19 therapeutics having started even before the Abrahams Accords were signed). In real estate, “yield seeking investors in both countries will certainly see mutual opportunities for income-generating real estate investments and projects in both countries. In particular, hospitality assets (both at the high-end and affordable) would be of interest. The UAE has an extensive network of high-end five star and luxury boutique hotels which may not be as prevalent in Israel and could be development areas of interest for investors from both countries,” adds Rodolphe.
“Israel should be able to tap into the agricultural, water desalination and medical equipment fields, points out Ahmed Ibrahim, founder of Ibrahim & Partners, and one of the most prominent capital markets lawyers in Dubai. “Furthermore, the UAE also has a second to none experience in infrastructure and road networks, as well as real estate development, which is something that the UAE can extend to Israel.”
Antonios Dimitracopoulos, partner at BSA Ahmad Bin Hezeem & Associates LLP agrees: “The industries that would present the best opportunities for synergies between the two countries are likely to mirror the UAE National Agenda and revolve around world class healthcare, sustainable environment and infrastructure, safe public and fair judiciary, competitive knowledge economy and a first-rate educational system.”
Antonios goes on: “As a result, the areas of medical science, solar/sustainable energy technology, cybersecurity and surveillance and education are likely to form a fertile ground for possible co-operation between Israeli and UAE businesses. Further recent areas of development and potential co-operation are food technology, cloud kitchens and mobility.”
Depending on the COVID situation, there are top conferences/exhibitions to be aware of. “In addition to Expo 2020 which was unfortunately postponed due to COVID-19, there are the Big 5, Arab Health, Gulf Food, Arabian Travel Market and numerous others. One interesting exhibition relates to Halal World Food, where synergies