Saudi-Israeli joint venture aims to boost solar power use in Gulf

SolarEdge and Ajlan & Bros fill in new details of the unusual alliance they formed last year on the sidelines of Biden’s summer visit to Saudi Arabia


SolarEdge's community solar energy project in Rhode Island

TEL AVIV, Israel – SolarEdge Technologies, one of Israel’s largest companies trading on the Nasdaq, is forming a joint renewable energy venture with a business group in Saudi Arabia amid White House efforts to broker a normalization pact between the two countries.

The new company created by SolarEdge and Ajlan & Bros Holding will be based in the Saudi capital of Riyadh and work to accelerate the adoption of solar power in the kingdom, the two partners said in a July 31 statement. SolarEdge, an S&P 500 company that maintains headquarters in both Herzliya, Israel, and Milpitas, Calif., produces solar inverters, which manage photovoltaic cells to make renewable energy more efficient. Ajlan is the majority shareholder.

The announcement came more than a year after the Saudi and Israeli companies signed a cooperation agreement that provided little detail of what the alliance would entail. It was one of 13 deals between Saudi and U.S. companies that were announced while U.S. President Joseph Biden visited Saudi Arabia in July 2022.

Zvi Lando, SolarEdge’s Israeli CEO, said in the statement that his company was “honored to partner with Ajlan & Bros. Holding and to support Saudi Arabia’s journey towards Vision 2030” – referring to a document outlining the kingdom’s efforts to wean the economy off oil and develop industries ranging from finance and tourism to sports and entertainment.

“SolarEdge is committed to driving the clean energy transition on a global scale, exemplified by this JV which will provide local enterprises in Saudi Arabia with the support they need to rapidly transition away from fossil fuels to clean solar energy and meet their aggressive renewable energy goals,” Lando said. The statement was released from the company’s California office and did not refer to its Israeli roots.

Israel and Saudi Arabia do not have diplomatic relations and their citizens are generally barred from each other’s territory unless they have second passports issued by other countries. The conditions are similar to those in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain before the two Gulf states signed the U.S.-brokered Abraham Accords in 2020, establishing formal ties with Israel. Several Israeli companies have managed to operate in Saudi Arabia through subsidiaries registered in other countries.

Biden, who has repeatedly said he would like to facilitate an agreement between Israel and Saudi Arabia that would normalize relations between the two countries, sent senior aides to Riyadh last month to discuss a possible deal. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has said a Saudi normalization agreement is one of his greatest diplomatic priorities. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the kingdom’s prime minister, has said he would like to establish closer relations, but Israel would have to make significant gestures to the Palestinians before an agreement is reached.

SolarEdge is one of the largest of the close to 90 Israeli companies that trade on Wall Street. Its shares have fallen 38% this year and were last trading at $176.35, giving the company a market value of about $10 billion.

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