Israel-UAE detente puts stars in their eyes

The commercial space and high tech sectors could be among the  big winners out of last weekend’s ‘normalisation’ of Israel-UAE relations, according to Israel’s Minister for Science and Technology Izhar Shay. “The timelines are quite immediate,” he told Bloomberg TV on the Monday after Washington announced it had brokered the detente between the two countries. “We now want to leverage those existing relationships and take them to the next level.” Israel was, he said, “aware of a good number of potential [UAE} investors” in Israel’s high-tech, agro-tech and artificial intelligence industries.
“We very much look forward to seeing  the involvement of Emirati investors in the Israeli economy,” he added. “The infrastructure exists for the sharing of know-how and mutual efforts, so we already are aware of a good number of efforts on the various commercial fronts that can take both nations into mutual developments and cooperation.”Israeli Minister for Science and Technology Izhar Shay
The UAE petrodollar and Israel technical expertise could make the two countries a formidable team in the commercial space industry which, according to a recent report from Morgan Stanley, is expected to be worth more than $1trillion by 2040.  Israel already spends one of the world’s largest proportion of GDP on civil R&D and in 2019 was the world’s fifth most innovative country on the Bloomberg Innovation Index. It ranks thirteenth in the world for scientific output and counts 140 scientists and technicians per 10,000 employees, compared to 85 in the US and 83 in Japan.
The new Israel-UAE deal should also trigger a wave of Emirati students arriving in Israel to capitalize on its neighbour’s educational infrastructure as well as a steady stream of graduates and technical experts going in the other direction. The deal is also good news for the UAE’s oil industry as it opens up a market where it is not in competition with Saudi Arabia.
In the short term, however, it is COVID-19 sufferers who could be the earliest beneficiaries of the detente. Less than two days after the White House announcement ended years of clandestine Israel-UAE interaction, the UAE’s APEX National Investment and Israel’s Tera Group unveiled a ‘strategic commercial agreement’ that will see the two companies work together on pandemic-related R&D, including the development of a testing device.
It was not  the first deal to be signed by companies from the two countries this year, however. In July, the UAE company Group 42 agreed to partner with the Israeli state-owned defence firms Israel Aerospace Industries and Rafael Advanced Defense Systems to develop technologies to help fight the coronavirus.