The Israel-UAE Peace Agreement: A Mega-Merger between 2 Leading Technology & Business Hubs
For us, an Israeli-UAE family office operating and living in Dubai for quite some time, the historic peace agreement recently signed between Israel and the United Arab Emirates, was profoundly exciting news. The importance of the agreement goes far beyond the first order effect: it portrays the nations’ courage to lead and the geopolitical, economic and political implications should not be underestimated. Already, we are experiencing first-hand the benefits and synergies in multiple verticals, opening new horizons of opportunities for collaboration, innovation, and investments that will have global impact. It is a rare occasion when a whole new market (and I mean the whole Middle East, not just UAE) which was hermetically closed opens up in one go to a strong, diverse supplier of innovative goods and services. In all historical examples, huge wealth was created on both sides in a very short period of time.
Moreover, the effects of the peace will echo not only in intensity but in distance, far beyond the Middle East. Indeed, the current agreement sets off the foundation of a dream team of two forward-thinking nations with strong visions, sophisticated executions and unmatched focus on innovation. Thus, the current agreement brings with it substantial promise not only to Israel and the United Arab Emirates, but also to all the surrounding economies in Africa, South-East Asia, and the GCC region, presenting investors and family offices with exciting opportunities for impact and profit.
A mega-merger between 2 leading technology and business hubs
Until not so long ago, the UAE economy relied entirely on the country's vast oil reserves, but the leaders realized that oil could not be relied on as a sustainable resource over time. With visionary planning and incredible implementation’s capabilities, the UAE decided to invest a great deal of efforts to become a global leader across a diversified set of advanced industries and innovations. It also successfully positioned itself as a global tourism, business and logistic hub and as the undisputed gateway between three continents.
Today, the country is considered a major international hub of innovation, ranking at 2nd place in the Middle East in the 2020 StartupBlink ranking. And who is first place in the ranking? You guessed right: Israel.
Being an Israeli family office in Dubai, we witness the great potential inherent in cooperation between the countries on a daily basis. More than top rankings, Israel and the UAE share a long list of common challenges and problems, including the desert weather, the difficulty in cultivating certain agricultural crops, and the shortage of drinking water. These challenges breed amazing opportunities in food-tech, water-tech, fin-tech and agritech which are key sectors in the local entrepreneurial landscape, so are digital health and wellness which are a big focus of both nations - and many companies have developed innovative and groundbreaking solutions in these fields, which will now be able to scale to new horizons.
The new peace agreement allows a close cooperation between the two leading innovation and business hubs in the Middle East and will lead not only to technological breakthroughs but also to innovative ideas becoming accessible for millions more people across the region. This is already creating many exciting investment opportunities that are perfect for family offices: bold ideas, growth stage innovative enterprises, de-risked models with relatively low funds required where market understanding and scale-up are the key, together with great potential for positive impact on millions of lives.
The UAE-Israel agreement was already followed by an agreement with Bahrain. According to all estimates, this is only the first step, and in the near future more moderate countries may sign similar agreements with Israel.
And this territorial, political and economic continuum of collaborations and agreements will allow for large-scale trade, import and export of domestic goods, extensive cooperation, implementation of innovative solutions and wide-scale, cross-continent impact. As so many countries in the region suffer from the exact same challenges mentioned above, the need for technological innovations that will enable sustainable and affordable solutions on a large scale is huge. The cooperation between Israel and the United Arab Emirates has tremendous potential to enhance the lives of hundreds of millions throughout the Middle East and Africa.
A once-in-a-decade opportunity
There is a long road ahead for the potential embodied in this new era to be fully realized. But if we can work together, encourage innovation and entrepreneurship, invest wisely and seize the opportunity, we may face the greatest opportunity of the decade, leading the entire region to a collaborative, sustainable, and prosperous future.
Angela Homsi is an international tech investor, business leader and sustainability expert, with experience spanning from trading and capital markets, to entrepreneurship in emerging markets, sustainable investing, disruptive tech and innovation, and conflict resolution.
She is the founder of Kaenaat, a boutique business development and investment firm operating in Israel, the Middle East, and Africa, especially focusing on Renewable Energy, Agritech, Digital Health, Medtech, and the Financial Sector.
Previously, Angela spent decades leading at investment firms including Goldman Sachs, Microvest Capital, Generation Investment Management (a $25bn+ investment manager founded by former VP Al Gore), and more. She is Lebanese-Egyptian-Israeli; a mathematician, economics and finance scholar, and a Singularity University Executive Graduate. She currently lives in the UAE and Israel with her husband and two kids.