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$5bn of trade on the table as Abu Dhabi and Israel grow ever closer

UAE Israel trade Wam
During the visit to Tel Aviv by the Abu Dhabi delegation, Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, acting director general of Adio, spoke at the 2023 OurCrowd Global Investor Summit
  • Delegation explores opportunities in Tel Aviv trip
  • 300 Israeli companies have presence in UAE
  • Startup tech is Israeli strength, scale-up is UAE expertise
  • UAE-Israel commercial ties deepened since Abraham Accords

A top level delegation of 10 Abu Dhabi entities has returned from Tel Aviv as experts predict bilateral trade between the UAE and Israel could reach $5 billion by 2025.

Led by the Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio), the delegation included Abu Dhabi Global Market, Abu Dhabi Residents Office, Hub71, Abu Dhabi IPO Fund, Masdar City, Kezad Group and the Department of Health – Abu Dhabi.

A series of meetings with Israeli entrepreneurs and investors was held to explore opportunities, with a focus on the emirate’s startups and closer collaboration in the technology sector.

Following the signing of the Abraham Accords in September 2020, Adio opened an office in Tel Aviv to support Israeli companies looking to establish and expand their operations in the UAE capital.

“This visit builds on the collective progress made since the signing of the Abraham Accords, as Abu Dhabi believes in the power of partnership to drive innovation and support sustainable investment opportunities,” Abdulla Abdul Aziz Al Shamsi, acting director general of Adio, said.

“Adio looks forward to continuing the conversations started during this visit and working with innovative Israeli companies to explore Abu Dhabi’s limitless growth opportunities.”

Following the visit, Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, told AGBI: “The last few months have seen a meaningful increase in business cooperation between the countries. 

“About 300 Israeli companies already have a presence in the UAE, and the number is growing.” 

He said that Emirati government entities are “quite active” in attracting Israeli businesses to the UAE, adding: “We see an uptick in the volume of Emirati travel to Israel to explore opportunities in technology, logistics, building materials, energy and other areas.” 

Israeli technology groups and investors such as OurCrowd, Indigo Global, Liquidity Group, Elbit, ThetaRay and Watergen have also been active in Abu Dhabi and Dubai.

Adio recently announced that Liquidity Group joined its Innovation Programme to establish a fintech research and development centre in Abu Dhabi.  

“Just as the UAE is known for its world class business climate, human talent, logistics, construction, transportation and tourism, Israel is seen as a technology powerhouse, which complements the UAE’s rapidly growing technology ecosystem,” Barak said. 

“Startup tech is what Israelis do best, and scale up is the expertise of the UAE, so I see technology as a key pillar of the burgeoning trade relationship.” 

Nearly $3 billion in bilateral trade was recorded last year, a figure which does not include much of the Israeli-related business carried out in the UAE with third parties such as representative offices in Dubai that lead to direct trade between Israel and Asia, the subcontinent and the greater Middle East. 

“We continue to see positive developments, which the UAE-Israel Business Council believes will result in trade of approximately $5 billion in 2025,” Barak said.

During the latest visit to Israel a partnership was signed between Integrated Data Intelligence (IDI), a subsidiary of OurCrowd, and Hub71, Abu Dhabi’s global tech community, to launch an AI-powered digital platform for Hub71’s Tech Barza initiative. 

The programme aims to arrange funding for technology companies and connect them with strategic investors.

The agreement follows IDI’s Abu Dhabi expansion in November, as part of a $60 million investment by OurCrowd in the emirate in partnership with Adio.

“This agreement with Hub71 is a significant milestone realised from OurCrowd’s long term commitment and strategy to build out our business in the UAE and across the Middle East,” OurCrowd CEO Jon Medved said.

“This is strong validation of the decision we have made to build our home in Abu Dhabi.”

Barak stressed that last week’s delegation visit to Israel was “critical” to deepening commercial ties between the countries. 

“As more Emirati citizens and residents visit Israel, alongside leading government agencies from Abu Dhabi and Dubai, Emiratis are becoming increasingly familiar and comfortable with the Israeli business environment,” he said.

Dhaher bin Dhaher Al Mheiri, CEO of Abu Dhabi Global Market Authority, said: “The delegation to Israel further harnesses the underlying bilateral relations and economic ties between the two nations following the historic UAE-Israel Abraham Accord.”

In December both governments ratified their comprehensive economic partnership agreement which lowers or eliminates tariffs on more than 96 percent of lines and 99 percent value of trade.

It enhances market access for exporters, attracting new investment and creating opportunities in key industries including energy, environment and digital trade.