Two years later, the Abraham Accords had a positive impact on entrepreneurs and investors in Israel and the Persian Gulf.
These agreements have created a pro-business climate in the region and have indirectly brought positive momentum to deals such as the Israel-Lebanon maritime border agreement that is based on local economic interests.
Entrepreneurs from both sides have grown their businesses because of the agreements.
Normalization is happening at a steady pace, despite differences in how each side approaches business relationships: the UAE is relationship-oriented and there are no quick wins, unlike many Israeli high-tech entrepreneurs.
Since the signing of these agreements, significant steps have been taken in deepening economic relations between the two countries, such as the decision of the Dubai International Chamber to open an office in Tel Aviv. The mission of this office is twofold. To help local Israeli investors navigate business opportunities in the UAE, as well as support Dubai-based businesses looking to grow in the startup country.
Hassan Al Hashemi, Vice President of International Relations of Dubai Chambers, in expressing this great opportunity, noted: Israel is a strategically important market for Dubai, and by relying on our bilateral business partnerships, we can accelerate the competitiveness of companies in both countries and have better competition. in the international arena.”
According to the Israel Central Bureau of Statistics, trade between Israel and the United Arab Emirates reached $212.6 million in August 2022, which represents a 163% increase in trade compared to August 2021. For the first eight months of 2022, bilateral trade was just over $1.62 billion. 121% increase in business from the first eight months of 2021.
Relationships take time, especially for countries like this that have never had diplomatic relations, but the actions taken by individuals, institutions and entrepreneurs who have taken the lead in building this future show how tangible the prospect of peace is.
Public and private partnerships
It is not only entrepreneurs who create value. As soon as the agreements were signed, new organizations were created to facilitate trade opportunities.
An example of one such catalyst is Noah Gastfreund, Vice President of Business Development at UNIPaaS and co-founder of the UAE-IL Technology Zone. This organization from The hybrid Accelerator program for Arab-led Israeli startups.
Within the framework of the Abraham Accords, the UAE-IL Technology Zone focuses on building bridges between the two regions through technology. The group has more than 2,000 members and hosts delegations of VCs and growth-stage companies that have visited the Gulf. Other programs focus on people-to-people connections to build lasting relationships.
As Gastfreund puts it, “Israel has a ‘world-first’ approach where companies penetrate larger markets.” One of the reasons is that until this agreement was signed they couldn’t really penetrate the MENA region… and thus, Israel is currently working with the Persian Gulf on technologies such as renewable energy, desert technology, Food technology, agriculture, digital health, collaboration. Fintech and more.”
Another facilitating organization is the DANA Accelerator in Abu Dhabi, founded by women, which provides regional collaboration, innovation consulting, community impact and funding for women-led startups in the desert technology sectors including agriculture, water solutions, food security, Provides waste management and renewable energy.
Dana works with Emirati, Palestinian and Israeli women entrepreneurs alongside government institutions to solve major challenges in the Persian Gulf.
Construction operations in the Persian Gulf
For many Israeli founders, the idea of opening relations between the two countries meant additional investors from the Persian Gulf. There have been significant investments in Israeli startups, such as a recent round of nearly $200 million by the Qatar Investment Authority in cybersecurity firm Snyk.
However, what the Persian Gulf has most importantly provided to Israeli companies is a base of operations and access to top talent.
One of the hopes of the Abraham Pact was that growing Israeli companies would open offices in the UAE.
With just under 80 employees, Israeli payments fintech startup Raypd has the largest presence among Israeli companies in the UAE and aims to grow the office to 200 employees in the next three years.
Rapyd’s Dubai office, which opened more than a year ago as an engineering and products center focused on relocating workers from around the world, is its second largest outside of Tel Aviv. The company made it easier to attract world-class engineering talent as Dubai became an attractive post-Covid destination.
As the company’s CEO Arik Shteilman stated, “It’s about recruiting. We believe that product and engineering should work together. Dubai will be a hub for expatriates during the pandemic and post-Covid as an attractive global destination for The talents became… similar to what Singapore might have been in the past.
As such, Raypd set up offices in the Dubai Free Zone. The local government was able to expedite visa applications and also provide the company with an unlimited number of visas. This platform provides Raypd with the ability to sell to the UAE, Jordan and Egypt.
Rapyd is also the first Israeli startup to receive a license to sell its fintech products from local regulators in the UAE.
With the promising prospect of Saudi Arabia normalizing relations with Israel, a base in the Persian Gulf offers endless opportunities for B2B companies in the Middle East and North Africa region.
When that normalization happens, the region will look to the Abraham Accords as a catalyst for those strong economic ties.
Jonathan “Yoni” Frenkel is a content strategist and founder of YKC Media, a digital marketing agency working with the global tech/tech/startup community.