Abraham Accords: Experts hail two years of growing ties between UAE, Israel, Bahrain

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Ambassadors and business leaders across Israel, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have hailed another record year of business deals, trade deals and closer ties between the Middle Eastern nations as the second anniversary of the historic Abraham Accords is marked.

Speaking to Al Arabiya English, experts said the nations are continuing to benefit from the normalization agreement as the two-year milestone is marked on Thursday.

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Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, said over the past two years the UAE has become one of the fastest-growing trade partners for Israel with new deals spanning sectors including aviation, energy, technology, and health, among others.

She predicts trade deals will double in the 12 months ahead.

“One highlight is the Free Trade Agreement that was signed and paves the way to creating opportunities in key industries, including energy, financial services, distribution, construction, hospitality, and others,” she said. “We predict that in year three of this relationship, we will see trade more than double from $1.2 billion to $3 billion, excluding services.”

Hassan-Nahoum also said there’s been an exciting “domino effect” where other countries like Egypt and Jordan are benefiting from increased trade with Israel.

“We are blessed to be living in a new era in our region which creates stability and opportunity,” she told Al Arabiya English.

On August 13, 2020, the UAE and Israel announced that they would be establishing relations. This was followed by Bahrain and Israel on September 11, 2020.

The Emirati, Israeli and US flags sway in the wind at the Abu Dhabi airport at the arrival of the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020. (AFP)
The Emirati, Israeli and US flags sway in the wind at the Abu Dhabi airport at the arrival of the first-ever commercial flight from Israel to the UAE, on August 31, 2020. (AFP)

Days later, on September 15, the three countries signed the Abraham Accords Declaration which stated their recognition of “the importance of maintaining and strengthening peace in the Middle East and around the world based on mutual understanding and coexistence, as well as respect for human dignity and freedom, including religious freedom.”

Sudan and Morocco have also since signed the peace agreement.

Houda Nonoo, former Ambassador of Bahrain to the US, said the accords have been monumental for the region.

“As citizens of this region, we must celebrate the milestones between our nation,” he said. “Through our support of them, coupled with the guiding light that our leaders and their diplomatic emissaries provide, we are able to watch as this relationship reaches its true potential. If this past year is any indication, the relationship between Bahrain and Israel is strong and will continue to flourish.”

“There is a Chinese proverb that says, ‘one generation plants the trees; another gets the shade,’ our generation signed the Accords to create a better future for our children and generations to come,” he told Al Arabiya English.

Avi Hasson, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central, a non-profit organization that promotes Israeli innovation around the world, said the Abraham Accords have “unleashed great opportunity and potential for our region.”

He added: “We have shifted the dialogue from defense and security to innovation and collaboration.”

“As we look back over the last two years, innovation and technology have played a central role in the business exchange,” Hasson told Al Arabiya English.

According to the CEO, trade and investment between Israel and the countries that signed the Abraham Accords will double in 2023 with innovation and technology playing a significant part.

“Also, more Israeli companies will open offices in the Accords countries and will hire and train local tech talent, addressing the human capital challenge while also contributing to the development of the innovation ecosystem in these countries,” Hasson added.

Avi Melamed, a former Israeli intelligence official and a senior official on Arab affairs, said: “I do not foresee the remaining GCC countries – Saudi Arabia, Oman, Qatar, and Kuwait – officially joining the full framework of the Abraham Accords in the near future, though there is business being conducted between Israel and many of these countries.”

He believes relations between the Abraham Accord countries ”will continue and deepen in the coming years with an emphasis on the following sectors: intelligence, anti-missiles and rocket technologies, cyber as well as advanced technologies that help solve and mitigate environmental and climate challenges.”

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