Naomi Miller in Dubai’s Old City.
Naomi Miller in Dubai’s Old City.

Thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE are off to an exciting partnership with tremendous potential for friendship and cooperation.

Last this month, the newly appointed Emirati Ambassador to Israel, Mohamed al Khaja, met with leaders in Israel to create a task force aiming to collaborate on innovation, technology, entrepreneurship and driving economic growth between Israel and the UAE. The Emirati ambassador said there is “an avenue of opportunities between the UAE and Israel just waiting to be harnessed.” 

Like most fellow Israelis, I, too, am celebrating the newly found normalization with the UAE and Bahrain because of the Abraham Accords. Recently, I had the great fortune to spend five days in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, feeling very welcomed by our new friends and awed by my immersion in the cultural and cosmopolitan wonderland.

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) is made up of seven territories ruled by dynastic Arab monarchs (emirs). Dubai and Abu Dhabi, the capital, are the most populous and the most visited. Only 10% of the country’s population of 9.7 million are Emiratis. The remaining 90% are foreign workers with resident status from Egypt, Pakistan, India and the Philippines, in addition to a significant affluent business community from the U.S. and Europe. Prior to the discovery of oil in the 1950s, the UAE’s principal industries were pearl harvesting and fishing. Today its economy, the most competitive in the Arab world, is on par with Western European countries. 

Naomi Miller
Naomi Miller

The UAE Israel Business Council is an interesting byproduct of the recent Accords. Its members, leaders from the public and business sectors of both countries, aim to foster connections between Israelis and Emiratis in the fields of innovation and technology. 

A taxation treaty currently under development could transform the UAE into one of Israel’s leading trade partners, with an expected $2 billion in trade in the coming year and up to $6.5 billion within a decade. 

A highlight of the visit was being hosted at the site of the upcoming World Expo in Dubai. Still called Expo 2020 despite its deferral due to COVID 19, it will open in October 2021 to host 192 countries in an environmentally sustainable city created especially for the event. It will focus on the themes of opportunity, mobility and sustainability. 

The impressive Israeli pavilion, titled ‘Towards Tomorrow,’ is symbolically devoid of walls in the exhibition hall. It will showcase technology and innovations in water, health, information and hi-tech.

Thanks to the Abraham Accords, Israel and the UAE are off to an exciting partnership with tremendous potential for friendship and cooperation. 

Naomi Miller is the director of Israel partnerships at the Michigan Israel Business Accelerator (MIBA) and director of Missions and Exchanges at the Jewish Federation of Metropolitan Detroit. This was first published in the MIBA newsletter.