DUBAI, Sept 14 (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates aims to raise the value of economic activity with Israel to more than $1 trillion in the next 10 years, hoping to work together on everything from healthcare to climate change and energy, the UAE economy minister said.
The Gulf Arab state has signed dozens of memorandums of understanding with its new ally in the year since it became the first Arab state to normalize ties with Israel this century.
It was not immediately clear how the two countries expect to reach $1 trillion in economic activity in the next decade. Each country has a gross domestic product of roughly $400 billion.
The UAE and Israel have between $600 million and $700 million in bilateral trade, the minister, Abdulla Bin Touq Al Marri, told a virtual conference on Monday. Reaching that level in one year was “an achievement by itself,” he said.
“We are looking to create over $1 trillion dollars of economic activity over the next decade,” he said, adding they are “moving into so many areas of economic opportunities.”
Israel says it expects $1 billion in trade with the UAE by end-2021 and $3 billion in three years, far below the UAE’s $24 billion of exports in 2019 to its top destination, Saudi Arabia.
“A new window of opportunity has been opened since that agreement, and the economy is changing the face of the region and will offer a diplomatic infrastructure for strengthening ties between us,” said Adiv Baruch, chairman of the Israel Export Institute.
Publicly announced deals include around 40 MoUs and around 30 other types of agreements related to the financial, energy, sports, agriculture, aviation, aerospace and media sectors.
But a $3 billion fund announced by the United States, Israel and the UAE on private sector investment and regional cooperation has gone quiet, as has a $10 billion fund of UAE private and state money to invest in Israeli strategic sectors.
Israel’s Export Institute and Hapoalim (POLI.TA), one of Israel’s largest banks, said it planned to send a mission of 250 businessmen and entrepreneurs to Abu Dhabi and Dubai next month.
The mission is aimed at companies designated by the UAE as having the potential for cooperation in high tech, as well as companies in construction, industry and smart transportation.
Official Israeli data shows Israel-UAE trade in goods was $610 million in the first seven months of 2021, $400 million of which was UAE exports to Israel and half of that was diamonds.
Reporting by Yousef Saba, Additional reporting by Steven Scheer in Jerusalem, Editing by William Maclean