UAE’s PureHealth, Israel’s Sheba Hospital sign cooperation pact

A team from the Gulf state’s largest health care provider visits Israeli medical center to discuss joint plans on research, training and medical tourism

Sheba Medical Center

Sheba Medical Center Director Yitshak Kreiss, UAE Ambassador to Israel Mohamed Al Khaja and PureHealth Group Chief Corporate Officer Rashid Al Qubaisi at signing ceremony

TEL AVIV, Israel – PureHealth, the largest healthcare company in the United Arab Emirates, and Israel’s Sheba Medical Center signed an agreement last week to conduct joint research, collaborate on staff training and combine efforts to promote medical tourism.

The two institutions approved a memorandum of understanding outlining their intention to work together across a range of medical fields. Israel’s ambassador to the UAE, Amir Hayek, told The Circuit that the preliminary agreement demonstrates a growing momentum for the Abraham Accords, which normalized relations between the two countries in 2020.

“We are talking to each other about everything,” Hayek said in an interview from Abu Dhabi. “We are open about everything and we are past the point of no return.”

The agreement follows a visit to Sheba, near Tel Aviv, and other Israeli health facilities last week by top executives and doctors from the Emirati organization, Hayek said. PureHealth is a $5 billion subsidiary of Abu Dhabi’s ADQ sovereign wealth fund that was formed last year to consolidate the UAE’s major health institutions, including Abu Dhabi Health Services Co., The National Health Insurance Co., Tamouh Healthcare and the Abu Dhabi Stem Cell Center. PureHealth operates 25 hospitals and 100 clinics across the Gulf state.

“This collaboration marks a major milestone in our efforts to drive healthcare innovation and improve patient outcomes,” Rashid Al Qubaisi, PureHealth’s group chief corporate officer, said in a statement. “By combining our expertise and resources, we aim to foster breakthrough research, advance medical education, and establish a robust framework for clinical services coordination.”

Since the signing of the U.S.-backed Accords at the White House in September 2020, trade between the UAE and Israel has exceeded $3.8 billion and the two countries expect commercial activity to reach $10 billion by the end of 2026. ADQ reached an agreement in December to buy control of Phoenix Holdings, Israel’s biggest insurer, for about $675 million. The deal is under regulatory review in Israel.

In another agreement last week, Abu Dhabi’s G42 technology company and Israel’s Viola Ventures investment firm launched a joint business aimed at providing computer engineers and other skilled employees to businesses in both countries and around the world.

Sheba, Israel’s largest hospital, is already working with Bahrain’s King Hamad American Mission Hospital, sharing advanced medical capabilities that are based on artificial intelligence, virtual reality and digital health care management. The UAE agreement “is of the utmost importance in creating a strategy whereby we will work to share our knowledge in the areas of research, clinical trials, and medical training,” said Yoel Har-Even, director of Sheba’s international division.

The UAE’s ambassador to Israel, Mohamed Al Khaja, who was present at the signing of the agreement, said it expressed the need to “find and focus on the real benefits of peace, which improve people’s health, lives and standards of living.”

Recognizing that memorandums of understanding don’t always get implemented, Hayek said the two governments are determined to help Sheba and PureHealth develop their collaboration.

“This MOU needs to be turned into a business plan,” Hayek said. “We will do everything needed to help them, but I think that from this stage… they need to cooperate between themselves and take it forward. We will follow up just to make sure that it happened.”

Sheba held a 75th anniversary fundraising dinner this month at which Mohamed Alabbar, founder of Dubai-based Emaar Properties and builder of the Burj Khalifa tower, the world’s tallest, addressed the crowd about the value of medical cooperation in advancing peace.