Adio inks agreements with two Israeli government entities

Collaboration agreements signed with Invest in Israel and the Israel Innovation Authority

The Abu Dhabi Investment Office (Adio) signed agreements establishing formal ties with two Israeli government entities.

The co-operation with inward investment agency Invest in Israel and the Israel Innovation Authority are part of a series of initiatives Adio is working on to develop private sector opportunities with Israel, the organisation said.

"In those two partners, we have now covered the full circle with some of the other MoUs we have signed in terms of addressing every part of the Israeli ecosystem that we are interested in attracting to Abu Dhabi,"  Adio's director general Tariq Bin Hendi told The National.

"We want the innovators, we want established companies and we want to make sure that we are helping to simplify their experience and their growth in Abu Dhabi and ultimately access the region from here."

The UAE and Israel normalised relations last September and trade between the two countries is expected to grow to about $4 billion a year, Etihad Credit Insurance said in December.

Although a formal "ribbon-cutting" ceremony for its Tel Aviv office has been delayed due to travel restrictions to limit the spread of Covid-19, it opened last month and is already handling enquiries from Israeli companies interested in setting up in Abu Dhabi as well as finding partners for Abu Dhabi brands looking to access the Israeli market, Mr Bin Hendi said.

"We're now seeing the execution and the delivery of all of the interest and all the information gathering that happened over the last six months. So it's taken people a while – people wanted to touch and feel Abu Dhabi as opposed to me holding a camera up and showing them what it looks like. It's a very different experience," he said.

One major Israeli conglomerate, who he declined to name, has already set up an Abu Dhabi base, Mr Bin Hendi said. Abu Dhabi entities such as G42 and Mubadala have also been looking to explore the Israeli market.

Healthcare has been an early area of interest, and so has finance.

"We've been engaged with some very large Israeli companies on the FinTech side and the financial services side that are looking at ADGM," Mr Bin Hendi said.

Adio's Tel Aviv base is the first of eight new international offices now open across major cities in the US, Europe and Asia supporting a Dh2bn ($545 million) innovation programme offering both financial and non-financial support to high-growth companies in sectors such as healthcare, food, biotech and aviation.

"What we're looking at now is people's ability to travel ... hopefully over the next couple of months once things start to relax a bit, we'll be able to bring more of those people here and showcase what [we] have," Mr Bin Hendi said.

Adio is offering "an alternative to the typical FDI model" of either seeking or exporting capital, he said, by offering to help fund the growth of regional bases to develop local industries and skills. For instance, an organisation setting up a stem cell research facility in the emirate might receive help with capital expenditure to fund machines, but also operating expenses in terms of funding roles for researchers.

Another significant area of interest from Israeli investors is plugging into local universities to run programmes locally to teach technology courses already established at Israeli higher education institutions.

"You can see it becomes part of the way they integrate not only exposure for students but also the ability of these companies to be able to identify the next batch of talent they want to bring in. This is incredibly helpful with our knowledge transfer and upskilling programmes that we are very keen on continuing to develop," he said.

The new agreements "will further strengthen the economic dialogue between Israel and the UAE and promote collaboration between the nations", Israel's minister of economy and industry, Amir Peretz, said.

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