CHICAGO: The accord between Israel and the UAE will help the latter shift its reliance on oil production and exportation to other industries in the near future, Emirati Economy Minister Abdulla bin Touq Al-Mari told a gathering hosted by the Atlantic Council and attended by Arab News.
The UAE and Bahrain each signed peace deals with Israel, dubbed the Abraham Accords, at the White House on Tuesday.
Al-Mari said the UAE-Israel accord could generate between $300 million and $550 million in new business deals for his country.
The UAE is the eighth-largest oil-producing country in the world, and seventh in terms of oil exports, which the country estimates accounts for a quarter of its gross domestic product.
“Both nations (the UAE and Israel) will learn from each other … In the UAE we’re very strong in trade. We’re very strong in terms of logistics, in airlines, construction,” Al-Mari said, adding that water and agricultural development are important too.
“There’s a lot of learning in future technology here … The current economic mix for the region can’t depend on oil,” he said.
“We need to redesign the future of the economy, the future of the economic mix. What mix of the economy do we need 10 years down the line? That’s what’s important, and that’s what the conversation is going to be about.”
Al-Mari predicted that the UAE and Israel will partner in developing solar power for the region, that there will be a focus on reducing trade tariffs, and that the accord will progress better than those struck by Israel with Egypt and Jordan.
“We’re very, very excited. I think both nations (the UAE and Israel) come in with an attitude of excitement and curiosity … How can we change for the better?” he said.
“I think it’s important to look at our strengths … We have so many similarities on things that we do. We have a lot of similarities in our economics … and I think it’s just a matter of putting our heart into it, our mind to it and moving forward faster with it,” he added.
“This signing was historic. It was a day that fills the future with optimism, hope and confidence.”
Al-Mari said he received his first phone call from an Israeli official the morning before the discussion, from the minister of economy and trade.
“We had a great conversation … We said, ‘Let’s move fast, let’s move for the nation, let’s move for the people, let’s move for the Palestinian people’.”
Al-Mari emphasized several times that the interests of the Palestinians will continue to be a priority for the UAE.
“We have confirmation from both parties (the US and Israel) that this agreement will bring benefits to the Palestinians,” he said.
Al-Mari added that the UAE-Israel deal will not be one-sided, and that the two countries will “complement” rather than “compete.”