The Hebrew newspaper Haaretz published a report by its correspondent, David Rosenberg, entitled “The worrying secret behind Israeli-Emirati relations”, which dealt with what frightens the Israeli side regarding the normalization of relations between Abu Dhabi and the profession.
The author said that businessmen and officials in the UAE are enthusiastic about relations with the Israeli occupation, but opinion polls show that many ordinary Emirati citizens have fears about this.
The report is based on a survey of opinions conducted last November by the Washington Institute for the Study of the Near East Policy, where only 37 percent of ordinary Emirati citizens expressed a desire to establish commercial or sports relations with the Israelis establish, while only 23 percent agreed that the Abraham Agreements It will have a positive impact on the region, down from 44 percent of respondents in June 2021.
Here is the translated article:
With all the festivity surrounding the official signing of a free trade agreement between Israel and the United Arab Emirates on Tuesday, businesses and investors were moving forward at a much faster pace than diplomats and trade officials did.
Since the two countries signed the Abrahamic Agreements in September 2020, two-way trade, investment and tourism activities have grown exponentially – despite the turbulent conditions the region experienced during a period marked by the COVID pandemic. , the war in Ukraine, disruptions in supply chains, and the repercussions of Israeli-Palestinian violence in the Temple Mount region.
Israel’s Ministry of Economy and Industry says the agreement will eliminate taxes on 96 percent of all goods entering the two countries, including food, agriculture, cosmetics, medical equipment and medicine.
As a result, the UAE expects bilateral trade to grow to more than $ 10 billion annually within five years. But even before the signing, two-way trade grew by leaps and bounds, to just $ 190 million in 2020 and $ 1.2 billion last year.
During the first four months of 2022, it reached $ 616 million – indicating that the figure for the whole of 2022 could be close to $ 2 billion. This is for products only. Trade in the services sector, which covers everything from tourism to computer software, is also growing rapidly.
“I would say that the signing of the agreement,” said Dorian Barak, head of the UAE-Israel Business Council, which has been trading in the Gulf for more than a decade – long before the signing of the Abraham agreements she previously signed. hidden relationships. The commercial relationship is a reflection of what business has developed quickly, rather than a prerequisite for strengthening commercial relationships. “
But Barak stresses that the free trade agreement will have a positive impact.
“This explains many of the issues that have made them reluctant to invest further. It also provides a framework for what you can expect in terms of specific fees and how specific factors will be handled, as well as how to manage the trade from that angle. , ”He explains.
From the Israeli point of view, the main advantage of trade with the UAE does not lie in the local market, but rather in the role that this market plays as a corridor for access to a wider area in Asia that stretches from India to China. The UAE prides itself on comfortable business and trade regulations, excellent logistics and transfers for airlines to Asia, and a large community of Indian expatriates, which is a major source of human capital for Israeli companies experiencing difficulties.
“I have seen many Israelis who do not come here to trade with the UAE, but to trade out of the UAE,” Barak said. “Anyone who wants to trade east of Israel will find the UAE an excellent place to set up and run businesses.”
According to a survey conducted by the UAE-Israel Business Council, nearly a thousand Israeli companies do trade with or within the United Arab Emirates, and the number could be more than 1,000 by the end of this year. Barak estimates that about 1,000 Israelis live in the UAE personally, while many more frequently travel to the UAE. This was facilitated by the presence of seven daily flights between the two countries.
One of the areas in which investment and joint ventures are much larger than trade in goods is high technology.
In this regard, Sabah Al-Binali, executive director of the Arab branch of the OrCrowd Foundation, says that the flow of Gulf investment funds to new ventures in Israel has already begun. In January, for example, The Wall Street Journal reported that Abu Dhabi’s sovereign wealth fund, Mubadala, had invested $ 100 million in six Israeli investment funds. Last November, OrCrowd, a Jerusalem-based advanced technology investment firm, launched its UAE arm.
The Biennial says that with the collapse of technology stocks on Wall Street, which is widely expected to eventually reduce the amount of capital available to invest in new ventures, the UAE could become a much larger and more important source of capital he added that bilateral technical relations will gradually expand and move from mere financial investments to the conclusion of real partnerships, as Emirati businessmen get to know the Israeli market more and become accustomed to it.
OurCrowd is preparing itself for that promised day, which is why it is opening a Global Artificial Intelligence Innovation Center in Abu Dhabi, which will initially be entrusted with the task of finding local artificial intelligence-based solutions for OurCrowd, and then to knit. later to include other companies like OurCrowd.
Meanwhile, a dozen Israeli companies such as Or Crowd are setting up operations in the United Arab Emirates. One plans to conduct clinical trials and eventually produce final products if those experiments are successful. Biennial says the free trade agreement will strengthen technology, especially in hardware. “Even with the software, it will become urgent to invest in cross-border transactions. It is a clear signal to both governments that they will need to continue to support the commercial side of the Abraham agreements, which will improve business and investment confidence.”
Feel public opinion
Compared to Israel’s old partners in peace, Egypt and Jordan, relations with the UAE have become extremely hot since the Abrahamic Accords were signed 21 months ago. Everyone, from political leaders to senior officials, tourists and businessmen, travels back and forth.
For Emirati leaders, Israel is not only a desirable trading partner, but an essential part of the diplomatic strategy to counter Iran’s threat and reach out to the world at a time when globalization is under pressure.
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What is really difficult, however, is how Emirati citizens feel about their country’s new friendship with Israel. The United Arab Emirates does not have an organized political opposition, and the ruling regime does not tolerate any expressive opinion that is contrary to the prescriptions and policies of the government, and therefore it is difficult to feel public opinion. Joshua Krzna, a research fellow at Tel Aviv University’s Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies, believes that relations with Israel may not be as popular as rumors. This indicates, among other things, the extent of Muslim dissatisfaction with Israel’s practices on the Temple Mount and Al-Aqsa Mosque. And in recent years, there has been no shortage of opportunities for concern.
In a report published in May following visits to Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Bahrain, Krazna wrote: “It is reported that there is not much popular enthusiasm for the normalization of relations with Israel in the UAE, but also little opposition. “As for the Emirates, in Abroad they were more critical of the agreements, and that is a fact that may reflect the trends within the Emirates.”
David Bullock of the Washington Institute for the Study of Politics in the Near East, who in November last year organized a poll in which he asked people for their opinions on a range of political issues. Only 37 percent agreed that “those who want to enter into commercial or sports relations with the Israelis should be allowed to do so” – a segment that has remained in size compared to previous surveys. Only 23 percent agreed that the Abraham agreements would have a positive impact on the region, down from 44 percent of respondents in June 2021.
Bullock concludes: “This level of popular expectation of the Abraham chords, even amid the public’s visible celebrations of its first anniversary, is further evidence that many respondents have a clear desire to express personal opinions that deviate from the government’s official position. “