War in Gaza has cooled Israel’s once red-hot business ties with UAE, officials say

The war in Gaza has cooled Israeli business activity with the United Arab Emirates, with the once-celebrated relationship now conducted away from public scrutiny amid anger in the Arab world over the conflict.

The UAE became the most prominent Arab state in 30 years to establish formal ties with Israel under a US-brokered agreement in 2020, dubbed the Abraham Accords. It has maintained the relationship throughout Israel’s more than seven-month war in Gaza.

In the wake of the accords, Israeli entrepreneurs began flocking to the Gulf state on direct flights from Tel Aviv, establishing new business ties and expanding existing relationships that were once kept a secret. Deals announced before the war included investments in cybersecurity, fintech, energy and agri-tech.

Ten Israeli officials, executives and entrepreneurs have told Reuters that business ties with the influential Gulf state remain intact but, in a sign of how the conflict has dented enthusiasm, they have declined to discuss any recent deals.

“It’s still happening. It’s happening less; it’s less in your face,” says Raphael Nagel, a German Jewish entrepreneur living in the UAE who heads a private business group that promotes business ties between Israel and the Gulf Arab state.

Six bankers and lawyers in the UAE also say business ties between Israeli and Emirati companies have endured the war but that few new deals are happening.

The UAE government is wary about promoting relations with Israel, they say. In Israel, meanwhile, many businesses have had staff called up for military service, impacting operations.

A UAE official does not directly respond to Reuters’ questions about how the economic relationship with Israel has been affected by the war. The official says, however, that the UAE’s diplomatic and political dialogue with Israel has facilitated humanitarian efforts to assist the people of Gaza.

The UAE is the only Arab state still hosting an Israeli ambassador. Jerusalem recalled its diplomats from other Arab states it has ties with for security reasons following the October 7 onslaught by Hamas that prompted the war.

Israel’s Foreign Ministry does not respond to a request for comment.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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