Abrahamic Business Circle presses on despite shadow of Israel-Gaza war
Organizers said they were dedicated to their mission of building economic diplomacy through business and investments, made all the more important by the war
In 2020, the Abrahamic Business Circle relied on the Abraham Accords to facilitate meetings between Israeli and Emirati investors. Since then, other entrepreneurs from the Middle East have joined in. An investors’ roundtable was organized in Dubai this week, in a business climate that has been dampened by the war in Gaza.
Jordan has withdrawn from a major water and energy partnership that included the UAE and Israel while Saudi Arabia has suspended negotiations on its entry into the Abraham Accords, and Bahrain has announced that it is breaking off economic relations with Israel. But despite the war in Gaza, Middle Eastern entrepreneurs want to keep working together, regardless of origin or religion.
Dr. Raphael Nagel, the chairman of the Abrahamic Business Circle, told i24NEWS that while “extremely sad” the war is a “temporary moment in history.” He says the organization questioned whether the time and climate was appropriate to hold this investors roundtable and considered postponing it, but explained their decision to go forward with the event.
“Seeing the relationship between Israel and UAE and how friendly everything is going and staying at the moment, we decided we should hold the event now because I think it’s more important than ever to build bridges and build communication.”
In 2022, trade between Israel and the UAE jumped 109% to 2.5 billion dollars as compared to 1.2 billion in the previous year, making the Emiratis the 16th largest trade partners of the Israelis. But the situation remains fragile for investors who prefer not to give in to the siren calls of political haggling.
Patrick Malek, the executive director of Tradeluxe, put it succinctly. “What happened is an earthquake.”
While not ignoring the tragedy of the events and subsequent war, Malek said, “Dubai, and the region as a whole, is a platform for business, and that's what counts.”
Malek says he remains optimistic that the turbulent period will pass and things will settle much as they were before. “Today, we're not talking too much about politics. We hope that things will calm down for everyone's benefit. We're keeping our heads down, and things will pass.”
Rashid Hamdaoui, the executive director of The Green Way, shared similar sentiments. “We're in a whirlwind today, which unfortunately is considerably slowing down our business. But we're quite optimistic for the next few months. We hope that the situation will calm down, in the interest of universal values.”
Rabbi Moshe Shapoff, an executive partner at H Capital Ventures, called it a “sad reality that we have to deal with.”
He recounted a conversation he recently had with a prominent Emirati who said he won’t listen to what regional media have to say about Israel. “He said to me, ‘I know what’s going on in the Arab media, and I don’t listen to it, and I won’t follow it because I know it’s propaganda. It’s built on politics, it’s built on money trying to influence the people.”
While the impact of the war in Gaza is already being felt on world energy prices, it is not yet possible to assess the consequences for bilateral trade between Israel and Arab countries. Israelis and Emiratis are still hoping to break the $10 billion trade barrier in the years to come.