Artificial intelligence, kosher food and new partnerships

Another several weeks of exciting news in the Israel-Gulf arena

UAE's Ambassador to Israel, H.E. Mohamed Mahmoud Al Khaja praised a new deal between Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense Systems and UAE’s Group 42. “The new JV between Rafael and G42 is not just two companies coming together, but a strategic collaboration that further strengthens the relationship between Israel and the UAE as the countries explore multi-faceted opportunities for bilateral economic growth. The signing of the historic Abraham Accords last year has already enabled trade and investment across several sectors and is a testament to the many opportunities that lie ahead. We are still at the beginning of an exciting journey, and I look forward to more collaborations and bi-lateral agreements between our dynamic and innovative nations,” he said. Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. of Israel, and Group 42 (G42), a leading technology company based in Abu Dhabi, announced the signing of an agreement to form a new Joint Venture (JV) that will commercialize Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Big Data technologies and solutions for multiple sectors, the companies said on April 19. The new JV will be called Presight.AI. You can read the report here.

Meanwhile in the UAE the new Kosher Arabia catering is taking shape. Michael Sussman wrote an important piece for the Israel Gulf Report about the new endeavor. He notes: While Kosher Arabia was inaugurated only last week, the vision for a catering company to provide kosher catering was floated four years earlier by Saeed Mohammad Ahmad, the CEO of Emirates Flight Catering, who explained, “we want to have the best Kosher meal served on our aircraft and in our lounges worldwide.” Read his full piece here. Follow Michael on Twitter here.

On the peace front, a new initiative will see Stevens Initiative grants, the U.S. Department of State and the nonprofit Games for Change announced "a new project that seeks to engage 2,700 students in the U.S., Israel, United Arab Emirates and Bahrain in a virtual student exchange program centered on the development and creation of social impact video games," according to a Washington Post report. Read our report here.

This month Gulf Air and Etihad both made news with new routes to Israel. Gulf Air, Bahrain's national airline announced the start of sales for direct flights on the Tel Aviv-Manama route. The flight, a bit over two hours, is set to begin soon. Reports note that "Bahrain’s flag carrier Gulf Air will be offering direct flights between Manama and Tel Aviv starting June 3, the airline announced." Read more. In a historic first the UAE's Etihad began flights to Israel on April 6. News organizations and Israel's head of mission were on the first flight. Flight 598 left after 8 in the morning UAE time from Terminal 3 in Abu Dhabi. Airline executive Amina Taher spoke at Ben-Gurion International Airport about the new route.

A new article at ZDNET looked at the importance of the Abraham Accords and also looks at how economic issues are underpinning them. Read the full article by Damian Radcliffe here. He quotes a variety of experts including the Israel Gulf Report's Seth J. Frantzman.

In Bahrain the newly renovated synagogue is making waves. "It’s my pleasure to invite you to the recently renovated House of Ten Commandments (our synagogue in Manama, Bahrain). This is the oldest synagogue on the Gulf and we look forward to welcoming you soon," said Ambassador Houda Nonoo in a post on April 7, 2021. Read more. This illustrated the role religious coexistence has played in the new relationships being built. US Chargé d'Affaires Margret Nardi and Shaikh Abdulla bin Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa who currently serves as Bahrain Ambassador to the United States, along with Ambassador Houda Nonoo toured the newly-renovated synagogue and discussed areas for continued cooperation to support the culture of peaceful coexistence. See tweets about the visit on April 20.

Gatherings were held in Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates, including in Dubai and across the region, marked a unique series of unprecedented events commemorating the Holocaust this month. These included an event at the Crossroads of Civilization Museum in Dubai, a unique women's event and important participants from the various communities. In Bahrain the commemoration took place with President of the community, Ebrahim D. Nonoo. Read more here.

Cyber events are also coming up. Israel Aerospace Industries, for the first time, officially attended the CyberTech Global week in Dubai, the company said on April 4. "Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) will participate in the CyberTech exhibition hosted in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, expected to take place from April 5 to April 7."

According to reports on April 21 Israel and the UAE health ministries signed cooperation agreement. In the US, for Earth Day, UAE Ambassador to US Yousef Al Otaiba and his Israeli counterpart Gilad Erdan planted an olive tree in the garden of the UAE embassy. The Jewish Community Relations Council of New York is also hosting and event with His Excellency Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, Cultural Advisor to the UAE President and Chancellor of the prestigious United Arab Emirates University, who will hold a public dialogue on the role of academia as a bridge between nations, cultures and peoples with Prof Ron Robin, President of the University of Haifa.

Linda Gradstein visited the UAE, alongside other key movers and shakers such as Nir Boms, and wrote a piece at The Jerusalem Report about her trip. (see the cover). There is also a new joint UAE-Israel tech tech force. Shoshana Solomon at Times of Israel took a look at it.

During Ramadan, the Majlis Mohamed bin Zayed featured Rabbie Elie Abadie, H.E. Sheikh Abdullah bin Bayyah and Bishop Paul Hinder. It was praised for encouraging coexistence.

Air corridor: Israel and Bahrain are expected to “announce soon on a mutual recognition in the vaccinated-green-passport between both countries, which will allow citizens to enter both countries without quarantine,” according to reports.

The UAE-Israel Business Council Co-Founder Dorian Barak spoke at FinTech Week Tel Aviv.

Mohammed Baharoon wrote on ‘The China-Iran deal and the reinvention of the Iranian revolution,’ on April 13.

Israel, the UAE, Greece and Cyprus met in Cyprus on April 16. Israel Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi said: “Today’s meeting is the first tangible step towards expanding the positive impact of the Abraham Accords to our partners in the Eastern Mediterranean, Cyprus and Greece. In the earliest stages of the Abraham Accords, we already spoke of the prosperity and stability that would spread throughout the entire Middle East as a result, and today we are expanding the circle of prosperity and stability towards the Eastern Mediterranean. Today, we are embarking on a new path of regional cooperation with the aim of turning our vision of cooperation into a reality that will improve the lives of our citizens”.

The UAE and Israel also flew at the same at the annual drill, dubbed INIOCHOS, which began on April 18 and lasted a week in Greece. Israeli side sent F-15 and F-16 fighter jets as well as Boeing 707 refueling tankers and Gulfstream G550 surveillance aircraft. It came as Israel and Greece signed a massive defense deal.

On the Greentech front, Asher Fredman, CEO of Gulf-Israel Green Ventures, “the leading company bridging greentech leadership emanating from Israel with the robust development taking place in Gulf countries, recently returned from the United Arab Emirates after a series of high level meetings discussing the opportunities for cooperation between the UAE and Israel in the greentech and cleantech space,” according to a statement.  

The U.S.-U.A.E. Business Council also hosted a Conversation with Eitan Na'eh, Head of Mission Embassy of Israel in Abu Dhabi on April 20. The conversation focused on the growing cultural, commercial, and political ties between the U.A.E. and Israel.

Meanwhile at DMCC, the world’s flagship Free Zone and Government of Dubai Authority on commodities trade and enterprise; they announced the signing of a sale and purchase agreement (SPA) with REIT Development to establish the largest precious metals refinery and storage facility across the GCC and the first to be completely enabled by blockchain in the GCC. DMCC has taken an interest in Israel since the early days of the Abraham Accords.