Bahrain aims to use closer ties to tap Israel’s tech expertise: Envoy

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Bahrain aims to collaborate more with Israel on technologies that help it manage water and cope with climate change, as part of a broader boost in relations between the two countries, its Ambassador to Israel said on Thursday.

Along with the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Bahrain in September 2020 signed an agreement to establish formal ties with Israel under the so-called Abraham Accords, brokered by the United States. Sudan and Morocco followed suit and talks are ongoing with Saudia Arabia.

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So far, the UAE has benefited most, with Israelis flocking to Dubai and bilateral trade between Israel and the UAE surpassing $2.5 billion in 2022 and reaching $1.85 billion in the first seven months of 2023.

Trade with Bahrain was just $8.5 million in the same seven months.

“It’s not going to happen overnight,” Khaled Yousef Al-Jalahma, the Ambassador of Bahrain to Israel, said at a Startup Nation Central conference in Tel Aviv to mark three years of the accords. He added some people have issues with coming to Israel while Israelis often look at Dubai and Abu Dhabi ahead of Bahrain.

Al-Jalahma said that as the relationship is still new, it is important to collaborate in as many fields as possible.

“If I was to choose a couple ... it’s water security and climate change - agrotech is a very important technology that we’d be looking at and technology that deals with net zero carbon emission would be another.”

He pointed to a collaboration with Israel’s Sheba Medical Center on Bahraini doctors working in Israel, with the first doctor set to come to Tel Aviv next month. Sheba is also working to open an innovation center in Bahrain, he said.

At the same time, 600 Israeli and Bahrani companies recently connected to discuss mutual areas of interest. There is also a project to employ Bahraini workers to help alleviate a job shortage in Israel’s tech sector due to its rapid growth.

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