The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced yesterday that it was setting up a $10 billion investment fund aimed at strategic sectors in Israel. The two countries normalised relations last year in what was seen as a major triumph of the former US President Donald Trump.
Reports say the decision was taken following a "constructive" phone call between Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed Bin Zayed and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The Likud leader, who's party has historically opposed Palestinian self-determination, was refused access to Jordanian airspace yesterday for what was meant to be his first official visit to the authoritarian kingdom.
Israel's public broadcaster Kan, reported that Netanyahu was due to hold talks with Bin Zayed and Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman in the Emirates. An intelligence report released by the US last month held the de-facto ruler of Saudi responsible for the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
Reporting on the UAE-Israeli investment fund, Abu Dhabi's official news agency WAM said that the Gulf kingdom will use the $10 billion fund to "invest in and alongside Israel, across sectors including energy manufacturing, water, space, healthcare and agri-tech."
"The fund builds on the historic Abraham Accord and aims to bolster economic ties between two of the region's thriving economies, unlocking investments and partnership opportunities to drive socio-economic progress," WAM continued, adding that fund allocations "will derive from government and private sector institutions".
In comments following the cancellation of his flight to the UAE, Netanyahu explained that the trip "was not possible due to a misunderstanding" with Jordan, with which it is bound by a peace treaty since 1994. But he said he spoke to Bin Zayed, the UAE's de facto leader, and that the pair agreed to meet "very soon".
The news of the investment fund comes as Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) and the Emirates' EDGE – both state owned defence companies – said in a statement that they will collaborate on "an advanced C-UAS (Counter-Unmanned Aircraft System) Solution tailored to the UAE market, with wider-ranging benefits for the MENA region and beyond".