Increased UAE-Israel co-operation to help SMEs, minister says

Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi said he expects more Israeli start-ups to set up in the UAE

SME sector contributed 53 per cent to the UAE’s GDP in 2019. Chris Whiteoak / The National
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The UAE’s Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs said small and medium-sized enterprises will benefit from the move to normalise relations with Israel, helping to increase their contribution to the UAE’s economy.

Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi told a webinar organised by Google this week that he also expects more Israeli start-ups to set up in the UAE.

“The implementation of a slew of measures and initiatives at both federal and local levels is further enhancing the openness of the UAE economy … presenting a golden opportunity for the Israeli business community to take advantage of the numerous economic prospects that are being generated,” he said.

The SME sector contributed 53 per cent of the UAE’s gross domestic product in 2019, up from 49 per cent in 2018.

“Through the efforts we have currently undertaken, we strive to increase [the] SME sector’s contribution to 60 per cent by 2021.”

A number of pacts have been signed between the UAE and Israel to foster co-operation in sectors ranging from aviation to finance after they signed the Abraham Accord in September.

The annual exchange of trade between the two countries is expected to reach $4 billion a year, according to Etihad Credit Insurance.

Google’s webinar brought together policy-makers and technology leaders from the two countries to build upon the ongoing dialogue between the UAE and Israeli tech ecosystems.

The signing of the Abraham Accords presents huge opportunities to tech entrepreneurs in both the UAE and Israel, Meir Brand, vice president of Google for emerging markets in Europe, Middle East and Africa, said.

“We intend to help support the tech industries in the UAE, Israel and across the region, enabling entrepreneurs and businesses to reach new customers, access new markets and … to be a growth engine for national and regional economies," said Mr Brand.

The webinar brought together policy-makers and technology leaders from the UAE and Israel on the same platform.

“There are a lot of learnings for us from the Israeli ecosystem, particularly in the development of strong technical talents and attracting international capital in significant ways,” said Mahmoud Adi, co-founder and director of Abu Dhabi-based start-up Pure Harvest Smart Farms.