peaceful partners

Emiratis estimate trade volume with Israel will reach $5 billion in the next few years

Officials discussed the Abraham Accord’s future at the 2022 World Economic Forum

Maksim Bogodvid / Sputnik via AP

Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the United Arab Emirates' minister of state for foreign trade, attends the Russia - Islamic World: KazanSummit 2021 International Economic Summit at Kazan Expo International Exhibition Center, Russia's Republic of Tatarstan.

Trade between the United Arab Emirates and Israel is expected to reach $5 billion in the “upcoming few years,” Emirati Minister of State for Foreign Trade Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi predicted at the 2022 Davos World Economic Forum.

Al Zeyoudi detailed the economic benefit from the Abraham Accords at a Davos session titled “The Future of the Abraham Accords” alongside co-panelists Dorit Dor, the chief product and technology officer at Check Point Software Technologies Ltd; Stuart Eizenstat, the State Department’s special adviser on Holocaust issues and partner at Covington & Burling law firm, who currently serves as the State Department’s Special Advisor on Holocaust Issues; and Khalid Bin Ahmed Al Khalifa, an advisor to Bahraini King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Less than two years since the signing of the historic normalization agreements, the trade volume between Israel and the UAE has eclipsed $2.5 billion, leading Al Zeyoudi to forecast that bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE will exceed $2 billion this  year and that 1,000 Israeli companies will operate in his country by year’s end.

Al Zeyoudi also noted both countries share common challenges — water scarcity, agriculture, and energy diversification — and referenced past areas of cooperation, including the creation of a water research institute, Israel’s sale to the UAE of stakes in its Tamar gas field and the two countries’ collaboration on launching the Beresheet 2 space mission.

The panel also touched on long-standing obstacles in the Middle East, including the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran and relations between the Gulf states and Turkey.

Al Khalifa reiterated that his country remains committed to the Arab Peace Initiative, a proposal to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and claimed the 2002 document was a tacit acknowledgement of Israel’s legitimacy by the Arab world.

“It’s a de facto acceptance by every Arab country of the State of Israel in the region,” he said.

Sounding a note of optimism, Eizenstat expressed confidence that Israel’s relationship with Abraham Accords countries could deepen, and proposed the U.S. create “Qualified Industrial Zones,” regions in which the U.S. allows free trade on products manufactured with Israeli help, in Abraham Accords countries. 

“As much as we’ve had remarkable change for the good in a little over a year, there is room for enormous expansion if we do the right things and we continue down this path,” Eizenstat said.

Asked about the possibility of promoting peace between other Middle Eastern countries, Al Khalifa stressed the importance of patience, but said, “We will need to work harder and harder and harder to make that go at a faster pace.”

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