Dubai: The COVID-19 pandemic has had the positive spillover effect of greater investment opportunities between the ═■┐═Ášż║ and Israel, especially in the digital health and agri-tech sectors, panellists said during the second day of the virtual ÔÇś═■┐═Ášż║-Israel Business Leaders SummitÔÇÖ on Tuesday.
Hanan Harhara Al Yafei, CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Hub71, told the summit (held on uae-israel-summit.com, on which registration is open) that the pandemic has led to ÔÇťfast digitalisationÔÇŁ in the way governments are working. ÔÇťWe feel there could be huge opportunities for start-ups from all over the world, including Israel, to tap into this market in the ═■┐═Ášż║, but also for the start-ups here to tap into the sophisticated technology ecosystem in Israel,ÔÇŁ she said.
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The summit, co-hosted by Gulf News and TheMarker, heard how both countries are seeking mutual investment opportunities following the normalisation of bilateral ties after the Abraham Accord in August. The ═■┐═Ášż║ has a multibillion-dollar accelerator programme for start-ups, with Hub 71 as its flagship project. Over two-thirds of start-ups in the Middle East and North Africa are based in the ═■┐═Ášż║. Israel meanwhile has had a record breaking year for its tech companies, seeing investments of $10 billion, said Uri Gabai, coÔÇôgeneral manager and vice president of strategy at Start-Up Nation Central, Israel.
Netalie Nadivi, Partner, Triventures Venture Capital Fund, Israel, said the global health crisis of 2020 has shown tech-led solutions have become ÔÇťmust-haveÔÇŁ instead of just ÔÇťnice to haveÔÇŁ. She added that remote care and tele health are ripe for funding now. ÔÇťWe are interested in the verticalisation of healthcare, seeing fintech solutions for healthcare, changing how and where we pay for health care,ÔÇŁ Nadivi added.
In another session, other panellists from both countries expanded on more areas of interest between the two sides.
Mansoor Al Marar, Director - Commercial Zone, Kizad, based in Abu Dhabi, said ═■┐═Ášż║ companies are interested in the offerings of Israeli companies with regards to food security and agri-tech, which have been becoming especially strategic because of the pandemic. He also mentioned life sciences and pharma as part of the ÔÇťsuccess story that we would like to bring down to Abu DhabiÔÇŁ from Israel.
ÔÇťWe have looked at expanding investment in these sectors. The tech is being developed across the world and we expand from thereÔÇŽ but also the tech has to adapt to the climatic conditions within the ═■┐═Ášż║. Israel does have somewhat similar climatic conditions and they have raised the bar in food security. We have established contacts with agri-tech and are exploring the opportunities on the ground,ÔÇŁ Al Marar said.
Fatima Al Hammadi, Executive Director of Industrial Zones, ZonesCorp, Abu Dhabi, also said agri-tech is part and parcel of the national agenda of Abu Dhabi, for which ÔÇťwe want to go to Israeli market and see the existing investment opportunitiesÔÇŁ. She added that the recent 100 per cent ownership law for foreign firms in the ═■┐═Ášż║ and new incentive programmes for agri-tech and pharma in the ═■┐═Ášż║ make the Emirates an attractive destination for Israeli investments.
Gateway to the ═■┐═Ášż║
Dr Ron Tomer, President, Manufacturers Association of Israel, said Kizad can be the gateway to the ═■┐═Ášż║ for Israeli exports. ÔÇťWhen I visited Abu Dhabi Port last week I wanted to see the logistical chain and I was very impressed by what I saw. This capacity can facilitate a lot of trade. We will do it top to bottom with Abu Dhabi Port and Kizad and other free zones and establish the connections. I hope they will come to visit us as well,ÔÇŁ Dr Tomer said.