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Cause for celebration: the Abraham Accords promise an improved investment climate for Israel and the UAE


resolved quickly aswemove into 2021. Mazdak Rafaty, managing partner at


Ludwar International Consultancy based in Dubai, highlights the fact that “two business worlds are colliding”: one that is “tribal with complex governance structures” and the other that is “streamlined, fast and global”. While there will be clear winners from


these accords, the risk of misunderstanding one another at an early stage might prove dam- aging, particularly for small and medium-sized businesses, he cautions. In any event, the geopolitical signs are clear,


according to MatthewMcGrath,managingdirec- tor at EmissaryHoldings, a global advisory firm. The fact thatMrNetyanhuhas approved the


F-35 fighter jet sales to the UAE is a “signal that Israel thinks that theUAE is a similarly minded country and would be trusted with the same fire power”, he says. Mr McGrath also adds that on a broader


world stage, this move to an open relationship makes sense. “They both triangulate the world similarly,” he says, referring to both countries’ relations with China, India, the US and Russia.


The Palestinian question Against the backdrop of a domestic conflict, however, these accords have been divisive. The Palestinian leadership has been quick to denounce the normalisation agreement, with many in the country feeling sidelined. Jessica Leyland, senior political risk analyst


at AKE Group, says the accords are likely to be detrimental to the Palestinian cause, adding that she sees “no decent way out from here” for the Palestinians.


“Precedent shows that the territory appor-


tioned to the Palestinians will continue to be reduced, and with normalisation there now appear to be fewer obstacles to this process,” Ms Leyland predicts. But there remains optimism on the ground


that the agreement will prove positive for future Palestinian–Israeli relations and busi- ness opportunities. AviZimmerman, president of the Judea and


Samaria Chamber of Commerce, says that the area of theWest Bank could prove pivotal in the area of logistics and development opportuni- ties, as “it would be hard, costly and ineffective to go around this region”. Palestinian entrepreneur Mas Watad,


founder of Dawsat, an AI-powered wellness app based around the traditional Arab kitchen, is hopeful that the accords will lead to greater economic integration between Israelis and Palestinians but stresses “itmay take time”. “I believe that there will be a lot of opportu-


nities for Palestinian business people who can bridge the gap between the Arab world and Israel,” Ms Watad says, “as long as the Palestinian ecosystemand people are included, benefitting from jobs and economic well- being, and are not left behind, we can be a force multiplier.” It remains unclear what the accords might


mean for the rest of the region, however: will they trigger adomino effect, with Saudi Arabia at the helm? If the sensitivity surrounding Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netyanyahu and the Saudi crown prince Mohammed bin Salman’s secret meeting is anything to go by, it isnot a foregone conclusion – not yet, at least.■


December 2020/January 2021 www.fDiIntelligence.com 89


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