Israel’s Bank Hapoalim Ltd. said Sunday it has signed “historic” agreements with two financial centers in the UAE, enabling the lender to give its customers easier access to the network of banks, investors, regulators and tech firms that are part of the financial centers.
Hapoalim said it signed memorandums of understanding with the Abu Dhabi Global Market (ADGM), a financial center located on the Al Maryah Island in the capital city of the UAE, and with the Dubai International Financial Center (DIFC).
The centers are special economic zones that act as financial hubs for the Middle East, Africa and South Asia markets. They generally have their own independent, internationally regulated rules and judicial system, a common law framework, a global financial exchange, and a tax friendly regime. The districts house hundreds of financial institutions, including wealth funds and private investors as well as multinationals.
The cooperation will enable Bank Hapoalim to offer its clients easier access to the UAE via the financial centers’ network of firms, and give entrepreneurs in the financial technologies sector access to the accelerator programs run by these centers, which will provide them with office space as well as connections to banks and financial institutions to test out their technologies.
ADGM started operations in 2015 and has played a key role in branding Abu Dhabi as a global financial center that connects developing economies in the Middle East, Africa and the South of Asia to the rest of the world. There are more than 3,000 organizations and financial institutions operating from the center, including investment bodies and startups. The organization has signed 116 cooperation agreements with financial entities from across the world.
DIFC, set up in 2004, was the first financial hub set up in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia region. It has 2,584 registered companies operating from the hub, among which are banks, investment firms and legal offices, with 25,600 employees.
The accord will enable Bank Hapoalim to access banking and fintech opportunities in the Middle East, Africa and South Asia (MEASA) from Dubai, the DIFC said in a separate statement, adding that the sides will work together in sharing knowledge, hosting delegations and promoting industry events.
Dov Kotler, the CEO of Bank Hapoalim, will be speaking at a fintech conference in Abu Dhabi on November 26, and the bank will be leading a business delegation to Dubai in December. As part of the visit, the bank’s officials and representatives of the DIFC will meet to finalize details of the cooperation.