Power Letters 2021: Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder, UAE-Israel Business Council
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Power Letters 2021: Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder, UAE-Israel Business Council

Power Letters 2021: Fleur Hassan-Nahoum, deputy mayor of Jerusalem and co-founder, UAE-Israel Business Council

In 2020, the UAE and Israel signed the Abraham Accords to establish full diplomatic ties between the countries


For the Middle East, 2020 has been a year of both upheaval and great opportunity. One highly contagious microscopic virus has turned the world upside down. It has brought world economies to their knees and has challenged health infrastructures globally.

Some optimists see this as a much needed reset, bringing back the desire for human contact that had seemed threatened by the era of digital connectivity. Others see this as a catapult to the digital age where borders are no longer relevant and the workplace is no longer about real estate. In a year where I would have travelled across the globe almost every month to speak to various audiences, I instead speak on Zoom to Australia in the morning and the US in the same afternoon.

In a year filled with game-changing events, August 13 will still be the date that remains top of mind for all of us in the United Arab Emirates and Israel. It’s the day when our lives changed for the better. It’s the day when our national leaders said that it was time to lay out a bold new vision for the Middle East – one that focuses on economic prosperity and providing a better future for our children. It was then that the silver lining in the dark clouds of 2020 finally appeared and most people celebrated this very timely and appropriate “match”.

I stress “match” because Israel and the UAE are a perfect match. The most advanced economies currently in the Middle East, which just a few decades ago were struggling to build a modern economy. Today, both thrive as beacons of free market ingenuity and good old-fashioned grit. Israel built itself as the ‘startup nation’ and the UAE as the infrastructural and financial gateway to the Gulf and everything to its east.

We are both multicultural modern societies deeply rooted in tradition that live side by side with liberal values. It was this potential that my partner Dorian Barak and I envisioned back in June when we set up the UAE-Israel Business Council. Yes, we started it two months before the Abraham Accords were announced because by June, we could already see a shift of tides in the business community in both countries. Emiratis and Israelis were already reaching out and expressing interest in working together.

Two months later, our national leaders put their stamp of approval on these newfound relationships through the announcement of the accords.

In 2021, we expect to see business partnerships and joint ventures between our two great nations continue to grow. Specific areas of growth include tourism, technology, biotech, healthcare, education, R&D and many others. The intellectual capital and human capital in our region are enormous and with proper planning, the UAE, Bahrain and Israel’s new partnership will make us the leader on the world stage.

Businesses in the UAE and Bahrain now have access to the Israeli market, and Israeli businesses now have access to the Emirati and Bahraini markets. What better way to rebound from the economic impact of the pandemic than by opening up new markets.

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