ABU DHABI 2 January 2021: After successfully establishing air and sea links, Israel is looking into the potential of road connection with the UAE to further develop the bilateral trade corridor, said the top diplomat at the newly opened Israeli Embassy in Abu Dhabi.
The air and sea links have already enabled goods traffic on flights within a few hours and ships within 16 days between the two countries, pointed out Eitan Naeh, Head of Mission at the embassy to the Emirates News Agency (WAM).
Naeh is expected to officially submit his diplomatic credentials to the UAE Government soon.
“Now we are looking into the potential of trailers and lorries carrying goods from the UAE reaching Israel in three days and vice versa in the near future,” the diplomat, who arrived in Abu Dhabi early last week, said.
Corridor linking East and West
“I truly believe that the UAE on the eastern part of Arabia and Israel on the western part of Asia – on the Mediterranean – can create a trade corridor through land and sea [to the rest of the world],” he added. “This ‘corridor of peace’ will create great possibilities for trade and tourism.”
“It all has to be investigated. Business communities in Israel and the UAE are now looking into ways to increase trade. Each country brings its relative advantage. We have trade agreements with the West [US and European Union]. You are an opening to the East. So, it is a huge market,” explained the 57-year-old diplomat who had earlier served as the Israeli Ambassador to Azerbaijan and Turkey, and Deputy Head of Mission at the embassy in London.
130,000 Israelis visit UAE
The envoy revealed that around 130,000 Israeli tourists visited the UAE since the air traffic was launched in the wake of the Abraham Accords, which was signed in September 2020.
“We’re very curious people. We like to travel. Israelis are traveling all over the world,” the Israeli diplomat said.
He heard from tourism industry sources that nearly 50,000 Israelis a month may visit the UAE during the winter season. “We are talking about a few hundred thousand of visitors a year.”
Once the vaccination against Covid-19 is complete in both countries, he expects increased tourist traffic. “I know that UAE tourism companies already making enquiries about packages in Israel. Israel has got many climate zones, forests and mountains and water bodies, which will attract visitors from the UAE.”
Infrastructure, investments and technologies
The envoy pointed out that both countries have an advanced infrastructure. “We can learn from each other.”
Israel has identified around 29 potential areas for cooperation with the UAE and bilateral agreements in eight areas have already been signed, he said.
On investment front, the Israeli Head of Mission already had talks with some investment companies from Israel that want to come and invest in the UAE.
“I think there is a lot of room for mutual investments. More Israeli companies will open their front offices here in the UAE or set up factories,” he said.
In science and technology sector, setting up joint research and development centres where each country can bring its expertise and advantage, is a potential priority.
“No one country knows everything. Israel is in the semi-arid climate, so we do have a very advanced desert research centres down in the south,” he noted. “There are things that we already know and there are things that we can study, then research and develop together.”
Circles of Innovation
“Israelis are firm believers and that’s why we believe in what we call circles of innovation. We can set up joint circles of innovation.”
Dialogue to overcome baggage of history He believes dialogue between Israel and the UAE will encourage many others to follow suit to settle their differences.
“We are very ancient people. We carry with us a long history. We carry that bag on our back, but we’re certainly the kind of people like yourselves [Emiratis] who look very much into the future,” he said.