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Israel tech experts visit Indonesia to build ties

JAKARTA, INDONESIA - APRIL 20: Mass from the humanitarian organization Aqsa Working Group (AWG) hold Defend al-Aqsa action in front of the US Embassy, in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 20, 2022. They asked the US and western countries to impose sanctions against the actions of the Israeli security forces that carried out attacks on Muslims during Ramadan worship at the Al-Aqsa Mosque. ( Eko Siswono Toyudho - Anadolu Agency )
Mass from the humanitarian organization Aqsa Working Group (AWG) hold Defend al-Aqsa action in front of the US Embassy, in Jakarta, Indonesia on April 20, 2022 [Eko Siswono Toyudho - Anadolu Agency]

Israeli tech professionals and trade officials visited Indonesia last month to explore investments, technology ventures and social impact initiatives.

Organised by the Israel-Asia Centre, a three-month online programme was also arranged and attended by nearly 100 Israelis and Indonesians.

Rebecca Zeffert, the Israel-Asia Centre founder and executive director, noted that despite the lack of diplomatic relations, there is still "tremendous untapped potential in education, fintech, cybersecurity, AI, mobility, healthcare, agritech and water technologies."

"The online programme is an opportunity for participants from both sides to dip their toe in the water, but the trip, in person, took these relationships to a whole new level," she explained.

"This was the first time that most of us had met in person after months – and in some cases, years – of working together entirely online, and the energy was simply electric! Everyone was so excited to finally be meeting in person," she told the Times of Israel.

READ: Indonesia slammed for allowing Israel to take part in U-20 World Cup

As part of the trip, the Israeli delegates met with local business leaders, university presidents, entrepreneurs and investors, and visited startup hubs and accelerators in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta.

According to the Israel-Asia Centre, Israel-Indonesia trade comes to about $500 million per year. By 2030, Indonesia is expected to have the world's fifth-largest economy. Moreover, Indonesia's internet economy is growing by 49 per cent a year and will reach $330 billion in the next eight years.

"When you take all of this into account, it's not surprising that Indonesia's digital economy is experiencing massive growth, particularly post-COVID,"  Rebecca added.

The trip comes amid speculation that the world's most populous Muslim-majority country may be looking to normalise relations with the occupation state, following the US-brokered Abraham Accords which saw Bahrain, the UAE, Sudan and Morocco build ties with Israel in 2020.

However, a senior Indonesian MP stressed earlier this year that his country would never normalise relations with Israel and confirmed claims that the US offered Jakarta $2 billion to do so.

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