UAE-Israel ties will boost gold trade, experts say

With trade between the two countries open, Israelis now have access to one of the world's most active gold markets

A merchant displays gold jewellery at his shop in Dubai Gold Souk in the Gulf emirate on July 29, 2020. (Photo by GIUSEPPE CACACE / AFP)

The normalisation of relations between the UAE and Israel will benefit the gold industries in both countries, top experts have said.

Israel participated in the Global Gold Convention in Dubai for the first time on Monday. The event, which attracted 32 other countries, explored the gold market, potential trade opportunities and utilising gold as a non-oil diversification strategy.

Gold accounts for 20 per cent of the UAE’s non-oil exports, but the Emirates aims to increase volumes significantly and become a global hub for gold and jewellery trade.

There will be an exchange of technology, there will be development and digital gold.

With trade between the two countries officially open, Israelis now have access to one of the most active gold markets in the world.

The second edition of the convention hosted speakers from the UAE Chambers, Dubai Multi Commodities Centre (DMCC)-registered firms, Israel Business Council and diplomats.

Jeffrey Rhodes, founder of Rhodes Precious Metals Consultancy DMCC, said the new UAE and Israel ties was a “major plus” for both nations in terms of precious stones.

"I think there will be physical flows of gold between the two countries," Mr Rhodes told The National on the sidelines of the event.

“There will be an exchange of technology, there will be development and digital gold. Everyone's talking tokenising gold and digital gold. Israel is very advanced in that kind of technological development in the financial sector. I think we can learn from them.”

The UAE and Israel normalised ties in September, under the US-brokered Abraham Accord.

Since then, UAE has repealed the Israel Boycott Law, opening doors for trade and tourism. The annual trade between the two countries is expected to reach $4billion.

“I would argue strongly that the UAE is the world's hub for jewellery, it always has been and it will only get stronger,” said Mr Rhodes.

“Israelis coming here would love to visit the Gold Souq and I think both sides will benefit from learning from each other.”

The UAE-Israel Business Council has been set up in the Emirates, to help Israeli firms set up base. DMCC’s Dubai Diamond Exchange and Israel Diamond Exchange also signed an agreement to boost regional trade.

Israel is one of the world’s largest diamond exporters but it is trying to grow its presence in the gold market.

Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council, told The National that the gold market is one of the principal areas Israelis would benefit after the normalisation of ties between the two countries.

“This is one of the world's preeminent gold trading markets. Israelis have been excluded from it for a long time, for understandable reasons,” said Mr Barak.

“But many Israelis are very active in the gold trade from artisanal to industrial operations in Africa, Asia, even in Europe, and they haven't had the opportunity to participate in one of the world’s most important and largest gold markets here for the past several decades, and have been forced to operate in secondary markets.”

Rashid Al Noori, adviser to IBMC – the organiser of the Global Gold Convention, said UAE-Israel ties provide a “safe haven” for gold traders and investors.

He said Dubai has successfully attracted traders and those involved in manufacturing, and now Israelis in the gold business would have the “same opportunity”.

“I think we're going to see more of them (Israelis) now that normalisation has taken place,” said Mr Al Noori.

“For many years, the Israelis have been involved in the trading of gold. They've played a major role in this business around the world.”

Dubai's Gold Souk - in pictures