Making history? UAE and Israel set to explore food tech and trade advances after historic agreement

By Guan Yu Lim contact

- Last updated on GMT

The UAE is the third country in the Middle East to recognise Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. ©Getty Images
The UAE is the third country in the Middle East to recognise Israel, after Egypt and Jordan. ©Getty Images

Related tags: Uae, Israel, Food tech, Middle east

Food businesses in Israel and UAE will be able to formally operate in both countries after the historic announcement made on 13 August to normalise relationships between the two states.

The agreement is set to significantly boost Israel’s exports to UAE, and gives the UAE access to advanced Israeli technology and innovations.

Chairman of the Israel Export Institute (IEI), Adiv Baruch told FoodNavigator-Asia​: “Once the normalisation of diplomatic relationships between Israel and UAE is signed, the business community can work directly with each other, and we will have a clear understanding of the true numbers​.”

Baruch added that bilateral trade is expected to multiply by 10 times than it is today.

IEI is an Israeli governmental agency operating under the Ministry of trade and Labor, representing more than 2,000 manufacturers across various industries and facilitating export opportunities.

On IEI’s website, it represents some 75 food and beverage, 33 alcohol, 24 fresh produce and 94 food tech Israeli companies.

Food tech and agri-tech

Israel is particularly strong in food technology and innovation, and is home to many plant-based and cell-based food companies.

Baruch told us: “Israel has a large ecosystem of food tech companies, with many partnerships with research institutes and universities​.”

He added that UAE consumers were increasingly seeking healthier, innovative and sustainable food products. Through this arrangement, UAE can benefit from Israel’s expertise in this sector, he added.

In addition, Israel has strong expertise in agri-tech, with advanced water and fertilizer irrigation allowing the country to maximise the production efficiency of agricultural products including potato, carrot, pepper, avocado, date and mango.

Baruch said both Israel and UAE were similar in its climate, desert land, and scare water resources.

With UAE importing more than 90% of its food and beginning to boost its food and water security in the past few years, Baruch said Israel can provide the infrastructure for UAE’s agriculture sector to flourish in the desert land.

He added that the agreement would not only benefit the bilateral trading potential between both countries, but also trade globally, as UAE is the fourth largest free trade zone in the world.

Keen interest

Baruch told us that the IEI received immediate interest from most of its F&B member companies once news of the agreement was announced.

From the minute of the announcement, we were approached by almost every single food manufacturer, looking to understand the potential of this arrangement on this business. They wanted to find out how to operate in UAE and how to maximise their penetration in the region​.”

He added that food consumption in the world was expected to increase by 70% as people lived longer, and were not only demanding more food, but also better food.

IEI is now preparing the business community in understanding the regulations, culture, and restrictions to operate in UAE.

 “We are excited about the two business communities building relationships. UAE has great admiration for Israel’s innovative solutions that can do good for the region, Israel has great respect for the UAE business culture​.

Food is a fundamental asset to build a strong lasting relationship and the level of innovation that Israel brings to the world, is a strong anchor for a long-lasting relationship​.”

Baruch expressed: “No matter what your political ideas are, when it comes to the well-being of people, we must have respect for humanity​.”

The agreement which is brokered by the United States, is expected to be signed in the White House in September.

The UAE is the third country in the Middle East to recognise Israel, after Egypt and Jordan.

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