UAE & Israel to explore cooperation in the development of tech ecosystems

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An exclusive inner circle of experts organized by Google to build ongoing dialogue & collaboration between the UAE and Israeli tech ecosystems

Abu Dhabi: “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 currently generated,” said H.E. Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SMEs. 

The Minister made these opening remarks during his participation in the ‘Sharing innovation – A UAE-Israel’ startup ecosystem event, which was organized by Google. With an aim to create an exclusive inner circle of experts to collectively build an ongoing dialogue and collaboration between the UAE and Israeli tech ecosystems, the event brought together policy makers and technology leaders from both the UAE and Israel, in addition to featuring the participation of Google executives.

H.E. Dr. Al Falasi further reviewed the UAE’s success in establishing a robust SME sector in line with the highest standards stands out at both regional and international levels. He noted that the sector contributed 53 per cent to the UAE’s GDP in 2019, up from about 49 per cent in 2018. Through the efforts we have currently undertaken, we strive to increase SME sector’s contribution to 60 per cent by 2021, also underscoring its importance in the country’s economic diversification, H.E. explained.

The event witnessed the participation of H.E Faisal Al Hammadi, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for Entrepreneurship and SMEs, in the roundtable discussion, where he discussed how the UAE’s economic strategy aligns with the appendix of the Abraham Accords. He added that the UAE’s main focus areas include the retention of high-quality human capital, advancement of key industries enabled by technology such as healthcare, cyber and aerospace, mobility, water, 4th Industrial Revolution; Agri-tech and food-tech; and leveraging the UAE’s geographic position as a global hub and that these priorities map well onto Israel’s strengths.

Speaking at the event, Meir Brand, Vice President of Google, EMEA Emerging Markets, said: “The signing of the Abraham Accords presents huge opportunities to tech entrepreneurs in both the UAE and Israel. Google has had operations in Israel since 2005 and in the UAE since 2007, and we employ thousands of Googlers in the region to help people and businesses make the most of the opportunities that the internet offers. We intend to continue to help support the tech industries in the UAE, Israel and across the region, enabling entrepreneurs and businesses to reach new consumers and customers, access new markets, and – in doing so – to be a growth engine for national and regional economies.”

Mahmoud Adi, Co-Founder and Director of Pure Harvest Smart Farms, said: “The event’s platform turned out to be a progressive opportunity to network with Israeli ecosystem players. The commonalities in the focus areas of both the UAE’s and Israel’s startup, tech and innovation ecosystems indicate the large scope of collaboration in these fields in mutually beneficial ways. 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. The UAE is a gateway to a large market opportunity in the wider region. Combining smart capital and attractive market opportunity will be a winning formula for startups and investors alike.”

Rashid Al Ghurair, Founder of Cafu, said: “In my experience, one of the biggest strengths of having startups in UAE is that more than 200+ nationalities live and work here, and this can be looked at in two ways. First, using UAE as a test bed for scaling into different markets globally, by testing products or services locally through those different nationalities, and they become the biggest ambassadors in taking a UAE-made product into their markets. I have personally experienced people knocking on my door and telling me that Cafu can work in their home countries, be it Asia, America or Australia. Secondly, Cafu’s multi-talented workforce comprises around 200 staff from 50 different nationalities, and that is a very diverse group of people. I believe that having diverse nationalities within a company is one of its greatest strengths in building a global product or service.”

The two sides agreed to continue holding meetings to ensure coordination and consultation between the public and private sectors in both countries to strengthen channels of communication and promote constructive dialogue between experts and technology leaders in the UAE and Israel. These efforts will also expand bilateral cooperation in the field of advanced technology solutions and applications in a way that contributes to driving economic development in both countries and in the region as a whole.