The bilateral trade between Israel and Dubai has reached AED2.57 billion (US$700 million) since the Abraham Accords was signed in September 2020, a senior Israeli diplomat told Emirates News Agency (WAM).
“We have this huge amount of trade [even though] Israel was closed completely for foreigners, and sometimes for Israelis, too, up to 1st November, because of COVID-19. It only proves that once the doors are opened, we are going to have a surge of more business going back and forth,” said Ilan Sztulman Starosta, the Israeli Consul-General in Dubai.
Dubai Government announced on 30th January that the emirate’s trade with Israel in five months, between September 2020-January 2021, had reached AED1 billion (US$272.26 million).
In June 2021, Israel’s Foreign Minister Yair Lapid told WAM that bilateral trade between his country and the UAE had reached over NIS2.2 billion (AED2.48 billion/US$675.22 million), within ten months of signing the Abraham Accords.
The Israeli Consul-General said commodities constituted most of the two-way trade, with diamond having high volumes.
Dubai Diamond Exchange (DDE) under DMCC – the world’s flagship Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise, has a representative office in Israel. DDE had signed a collaboration agreement with the Israel Diamond Exchange (IDE) in September 2020, soon after the Abraham Accords came into being.
Dubai’s status as one of the world’s leading diamond trading hubs helps further enhance trade with Israel, the Consul-General pointed out.
According to DDE, in 2003, the total value of rough and polished diamonds traded in the emirate was AED13.2 billion (US$3.6 billion), a figure that rose significantly in 2019 to AED84 billion (US$23 billion).
“You have many Israeli companies that develop and sell technologies in Dubai. They set up [their businesses] here and start doing R&D [research and development] and some of them are into the production of goods that are not available in Israel. And this is also growing,” Starosta noted.
Healthcare is another important sector, he pointed out. “Many people come to Israel for health services and many Israeli hospitals are opening branches here in Dubai.”
Commercial attaché, CEPA to enhance trade
An office of the commercial attaché will soon be opened at the Israeli embassy in Abu Dhabi, the diplomat revealed, explaining that Aviad Tamir, the first Israeli commercial attaché to the UAE, will lead the economic wings at the embassy in Abu Dhabi and the consulate general in Dubai.
The talks between Israel and the UAE on signing a Comprehensive Economic Partnership Agreement (CEPA) are in progress, Starosta said.
An Israeli delegation, including lawyers and accountants, visited the UAE last week to work on the technical aspects of CEPA.
“CEPA will bring both economies much closer than they are today. Investments from both sides are going to raise because there will be no taxes. We will become strategic partners and important to each other with this agreement.”
Expo 2020 Dubai, UAE’s 50th anniversary
Talking about Israel’s participation at Expo 2020 Dubai, Starosta said, “We have to thank the Emirati government for allowing us to start building the Israeli Pavilion at Expo in 2017 even when there were no diplomatic relations.”
“Now it’s just amazing. When top Emirati officials visited our pavilion, we wondered whether this is really happening, or we are dreaming! But it’s a reality. You see hundreds of Emiratis and people from all nationalities visiting our pavilion. It’s a dream come true,” he added.
Talking about the UAE’s 50th anniversary, the senior diplomat said, “If I were an Emirati, I would be very proud of what this country has achieved in such a short time. Israel has done that, too, in 70 years. Still, I think we have also a lot to learn, especially on long-term strategic planning, from the leaders of the UAE, and that is something that I tell my government all the time.”