Dubai says trade with Israel has topped $270 million since normalization

‘Expansion of trade and investment will benefit not only business communities in the UAE and Israel, but also in the [wider] Middle East,’ official says

The skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at sunset. (Britus/ iStock by Getty Images)
The skyline of Dubai, United Arab Emirates, at sunset. (Britus/ iStock by Getty Images)

Since Israel and the United Arab Emirates normalized ties in September, trade between the Jewish state and Dubai has reached 1 billion dirham ($272 million), the Dubai media office said Saturday.

No figure was provided for all trade between the two countries beyond Dubai.

The office said some two-thirds of the sum was exports, while a third was imports.

Main imports include electronic devices, diamonds, fruits and vegetables, and medical devices, while exports are chiefly perfumes, lubricants, engine parts, phones, and diamonds.

“The expansion of trade and investment between the two sides will benefit not only the business communities in the UAE and Israel, but also other stakeholders and business communities in the Middle East,” said Sultan bin Sulayem, Chairman of Dubai’s Ports, Customs and Free Zone Corporation.

“This growth supports the vision of [the UAE’s leaders] to forge closer cooperation and cross border partnerships with markets around the world.”

Israel and the oil-rich UAE signed a US-brokered normalization agreement in September, opening the way for business and tourism between the two countries.

The UAE, a federation of seven desert sheikdoms dependent on petrodollars, has been keen to cash in on the influx of Israeli investment and travel, particularly after the pandemic diminished demand for oil and hammered international tourism.

Days after arriving in the United Arab Emirates, Israel’s first-ever ambassador to the Gulf nation told The Times of Israel this week he was set to focus on economic issues, saying he saw a bright — and cheaper — future ahead for Israelis as ties develop.

“The UAE is an opening to a huge market, huge ports, with very big free trade zones,” Eitan Na’eh said. “There are huge advantages for Israeli trade, be it imports and also exports, for lowering the cost of living.”

While Israelis have long maintained quiet commercial and security ties with the UAE, the normalization agreement has been touted as a potential economic boon, with increased access to the global business and shipping hub of Dubai, on top of tourism and energy.

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