Abraham Accords: Marking the 3rd year of the landmark agreement
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Abraham Accords: Marking the third anniversary of the historic agreement

Abraham Accords: Marking the third anniversary of the historic agreement

Experts believe the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords is the most significant one yet

Gulf Business
Abraham Accord
Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images

The historic Abraham Accords, signed on the White House lawn in September 2020, was a landmark moment, normalising diplomatic relations between Israel and the UAE and Bahrain, with Morocco and Sudan following suit.

The agreements have bolstered stronger ties between the nations, offering all parties advantages in areas of economic cooperation, cultural exchanges and regional security cooperation. September 15 marks the third anniversary of the signing.

The US Department of State marked the significance of the accords in a statement released on September 14. It stated: “Normalisation between our allies in the region has been transformational for Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco. On this anniversary we recommit ourselves to the goal of expanding and deepening opportunities for integration represented by the Accords.

“The US remains steadfast in its support for a more peaceful, secure, and prosperous Middle East. Subsequent partnerships such as the Negev Forum and I2U2 partnership of India, Israel, the UAE and the US strengthen shared capabilities and foster the collaboration necessary to meet today’s pressing challenges and opportunities.”

The UAE Embassy in Israel also took to the social media platform X (formerly Twitter) to mark the event and the benefits of the accords.

Here, top leaders and experts share their views on the impact of the Abraham Accords

Ambassador Eitan Na’eh, Ambassador of Israel to Bahrain: The Abraham Accords have already had a tremendous impact on the Middle East and it will continue to make an even greater impact as more countries establish relations with Israel and we become a fully integrated region.

We see the impact of the Abraham Accords every day – whether it is in business collaborations, investments, soaring tourism numbers, increased trade, the exchange of ideas and strong people-to-people ties. As we look to the future, it is exciting to see that the youth in the region see the benefits of an integrated region, one that Israel is very much a part of. These youth see how Bahrain and the UAE are flourishing and the business opportunities that are developing as a result of the Abraham Accords and they want it to continue and grow so that they too can have access to it.

Ambassador Houda Nonoo, former Ambassador of Bahrain to the US: I believe the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords is the most significant one yet. The first two years were about laying the foundations in diplomacy, business, tourism and people-to-people relations but this past year was about furthering those relationships to create a more integrated region.

Over the last year, we’ve seen the number of direct flights on the Bahrain-Israel route increase to five flights a week, illustrating the increase in demand as people travel back and forth for business and leisure. This past March, a business event in Bahrain brought more than 500 businesspeople from both countries.

As we embark on year four, I hope that we continue the momentum from the past year. The Abraham Accords ushered in a new chapter for the Middle East and we are seeing its positive impact not only in the signatory countries but in the region more broadly. A more integrated region provides more opportunities for us all, especially for the youth of the region.

 Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, Deputy Mayor of Jerusalem: In some ways, this past year has been the most significant yet, after of course, the historic signing and opening of business and tourism immediately after. Whereas the first two years were about celebrating the many “firsts” – first flight, first trip to the other county, first business engagements in several sectors, etc. this past year was about concretising the relationships made and focusing on a more integrated region.

For example, we just completed the first FemForward MENA cohort which brought together women in the tech sector from Morocco and Israel. We launched the FemForward programme three years ago to create Israel’s first junior-to-manager programme designed to address the global “broken rung” trend, which represents the lack of career advancement for women in entry-level positions to progress into management. It was so tremendously successful with many of these women moving up in their positions and receiving salary increases that this year, with the help of our partners – the US Embassy in Israel and the UAE-Israel Business Council, we launched the first MENA cohort which included women from Israel and Morocco. We’re hoping to launch additional cohorts with women from Bahrain and the UAE as well.

Ahmed Bin Sulayem, executive chairman and CEO of DMCC: As we celebrate the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords, Dubai is fast becoming the next big global hub for Israelis to do business. This is reflected in the soaring numbers of Israeli companies setting up in Dubai and we see the impact every day in DMCC where there has been a 42 per cent increase in new Israeli members since the beginning of this year. Nearly a third of Israeli companies registered in DMCC are in the precious metals and stones sector – specifically diamonds and gold – where Israel and the UAE are global leaders.

More broadly, we are seeing a steady rise in other sectors too, such as financial services, technology and telecoms. This increase in both volume and variety is a positive sign for shared economic growth and sets the stage for more Israeli companies to extend their trade to countries they do not yet have access to, collaborating with enterprises, investors, and potential overseas partners in a vibrant, fast-growing ecosystem. With Israel being world-renowned for its innovation and pioneering start-up culture, I believe Dubai offers a platform for Israeli businesses to thrive.

Avi Hasson, CEO of Start-Up Nation Central: The Abraham Accords unlocked a new era for the MENA region. While there is direct impact every day in the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco, and Israel, increased technology and innovation collaboration has also become more common with other MENA countries that have not yet signed on to the Accords. As neighbors, we share common opportunities and challenges – and by working together, we can develop solutions at a quicker pace.

This year, we brought our Connect2Innovate conference to Bahrain where it quickly became the largest Bahraini and Israeli business event to date. Over the course of just a couple of days, businesspeople from both countries met and discussed potential areas of collaboration. Some signed MoUs during the event and are currently working together.

In May, we held an event in Morocco bringing together female business leaders from several countries in Africa and the Middle East to discuss ways to work together. Through innovation diplomacy, we are working to promote partnerships that propel knowledge exchange and create business opportunities across the region.

Sharon Biton, VP of the MENA Region for Israel Aerospace Industries: There has been much collaboration between the Israeli defence industry and our counterparts in the Abraham Accord countries. Earlier this year at the NAVDEX exhibition in Abu Dhabi, Israel Aerospace Industries, EDGE and Abu Dhabi Ship Building held a joint demonstration where they performed a range of military and commercial missions. This was a historic moment as it was the first time that Israeli and the UAE held a joint demonstration. Another example is our work with Etihad Engineering establishing a passenger-to-freighter conversion site for the Boeing 777-3000ER aircraft in Abu Dhabi.

Through our joint efforts with our partners in these countries, we are harnessing cutting-edge technologies to develop new solutions to the region’s most pressing challenges. We are excited for these partnerships to develop further as we see the UAE as a bridge to the entire Arab world and as a leading partner in our effort to make the region a safer place.

Dorian Barak, co-founder of the UAE-Israel Business Council: Three years after the signing the Abraham Accords, trade and business between the two countries has far exceeded everyone’s expectations for the breadth of our budding commercial ties.

We will far exceed $3bn in bilateral trade in 2023, and this doesn’t count much of the trade Israelis conduct through the UAE with counterparties across the Arab world, South Asia and beyond. Israel’s trade with, in, and through the UAE – i.e. the full measure of the trade relationship – will certainly exceed $5bn by 2025. It has become one of Israel’s most important trading relationships, with a huge impact on Israel’s place in the economic fabric of the region.

Avi Melamed, former Israeli Intelligence official: We are celebrating the third anniversary of the Abraham Accords while at the same time, there is a lot of discussion around Israel and Saudi Arabia potentially establishing a formal relationship. Recently, Saudi Ambassador to the US Princess Reema bint Bandar Al Saud spoke at the Aspen Ideas Festival and shared that Saudi Arabia is focused on an integrated region and noted the kingdom’s hesitation about using the phrase “normalisation” because it has a negative connotation.

There is no doubt that the Abraham Accords are the first step in an integrated region. Israel now has true partners in the UAE and Bahrain, which has led to many organic business collaborations between Israelis and citizens of other GCC countries. It’s a matter of when – not if – Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia will establish relations with Israel as we all work together toward this vision of an integrated Middle East. A more integrated region supports stability, thus presenting opportunities for prosperity for Palestinians.

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