Two Israeli defence contractors and a United Arab Emirates (UAE) company will partner to research and develop technology to tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Executives from each company, Group 42 (G42), an Abu Dhabi-based technology company, took part in a signing ceremony held yesterday with Israel’s Rafael Advanced Defense, which manufactures weapons for Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI).
The agreement comes after a senior UAE official last month said the countries could possibly cooperate in the fight against COVID-19 technology and health security throughout the region.
IAI confirmed the deal in a statement, saying: “Israel Aerospace Industries signed a historic cooperation agreement with the company Group 42 from Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the UAE.”
The partnership focuses on artificial intelligence, sensors and lasers, it added.
Last week, Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addressed the collaboration, without naming the companies, calling it a result of “extensive and intensive contacts in recent months and will bring a blessing to many in our region.”
Critics have said the UAE is attempting to use the pandemic to increase the pace of its normalisation with Israel at the expense of the Palestinian issue, which is passing through the most difficult crisis in its history since the Nakba of 1948.
“At G42, we embrace international cooperation as a way to develop new and innovative technological solutions for the public good,” said G42 CEO Peng Xiao.
“The UAE has led by example in the global collaborative effort to defeat the Covid-19 pandemic, and our company is privileged to follow the lead and share resources and expertise with Rafael and IAI for such a significant cause.”
Israel’s Channel 12 news reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen helped broker the deal.
Writing in Israel’s largest Hebrew daily, Yedioth Ahronoth, UAE Ambassador to the US, Yousef Al-Otaiba, last month acknowledged that the UAE has played a key role in the Arab world’s recent embrace of Israel.