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Israel-UAE peace advancing rapidly

Cooperation between Israel and the United Arab Emirates is accelerating at near-lightning speed, even though the Jewish and Arab states only signed an agreement just 15 days ago to establish diplomatic relations for the first time.

As a result of the UAE dropping out of the Arab world’s economic boycott of Israel, officials from both nations are now considering bilateral cooperation in defense, energy, medicine, tourism, technology and financial investment. Several Israeli and Emirati businesses have already signed deals since the Abraham Accords were inked in Washington.

Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen told Israel’s Reshet Bet radio station that “within three to five years trade between Israel and the United Arab Emirates will reach $4 billion.” A spokesman for Cohen, who previously served as Israel’s Economy Minister, said the figure was an annual estimation that also includes defense trade.

The UAE state news agency WAM reported today that Emirati Industry and Advanced Technology Minister Sultan al-Jaber discussed possible collaboration in technology transfer, research and development during a virtual meeting with the Israel’s Minister of Science and Technology Yizhar Shai. This follow’s yesterday’s report by WAM that Al Jaber, who also heads the government-run Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC), discussed possible cooperation with the Israeli Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, as well as Economy and Industry Minister Amir Peretz.

Other strategic partnerships include agreement by the Israel and Dubai diamond exchanges to promote cooperation in a deal certain to boost direct trade between the Middle East’s main diamond hubs. A video conference ceremony was held to announce the arrangement, which is a very welcome development for an industry hit hard by the coronavirus outbreak and overall weaker global demand. In fact, Israel’s diamond exports fell 28% in 2019 to $4.9 billion.

Terms of the deal include the opening of an office in Dubai by the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) while the Dubai Multi Commodities Center (DMCC) will open one of its own in Ramat Gan outside of Tel Aviv where the IDE is headquartered.

Israel is one of the leading international exporters of polished diamonds. According to IDE President Yoram Dvash, Dubai has become one of the most important diamond centers in the world due to its free zone and convenient business conditions; amounting to in excess of $23 billion in the trade of rough and polished diamonds last year.

In the medical field, Israel’s Sheba Medical Center and the UAE’s APEX National Investment announced agreement to jointly promote healthcare technologies in the Emirates and Gulf region at large. The memorandum of understanding was the first cooperation announced between an Israeli hospital with an Emirati company after Israel and the UAE agreed to normalize ties in August.

The bilateral cooperation has also reached the sports arena, with Dubai’s Pro-League Al-Nasr club having signed an Israel midfielder. History was made when Dia Saba from Chinese Super League club Guangzhou R&F agreed to a two-year contract with Al-Nasr – which became the first Arab club to ever sign a player from Israel.

The Israeli airline Israir is so optimistic that it has already reserved slots for commercial flights from Tel Aviv to the UAE, in anticipation of potential tourism after containment of the coronavirus pandemic.